A year or two ago I was in Chuck E. Cheese’s and had a moment.
My kids are way past the target age-range for Chuck E. Cheese, but on this day, we were entertaining someone else’s little one who was exactly the target age.
(May I say that I am not a natural babysitter? Even as a teenager, I didn’t like it. I did it, but even then, felt out of my element. If you ask me to watch your kids, I’ll probably do it…but we’ll most likely end up at a place like Chuck E. Cheese where there’s lots to entertain the little people.)
At the “moment” moment, the child we were watching was off with one of my kids climbing through tunnels or riding a mini carousel, and I was sitting at one of their booths doing some prep work for school.
It wasn’t long before I was distracted by a sweet little toddler and her mama walking through the maze of video games. I could see on this mama’s face a large measure of angst and stress. I have no idea what was presently causing that, or even if everyone else could see it. It might’ve just been the spiritual eyes I had at that moment to see past her countenance and into her heart.
At any rate, within moments of recognizing the weight that this mama was carrying, I was taken back in time about 15 years when I was that lady, chasing my toddler through the light and sounds of the entertainment zone. I was the one following my gorgeous little girl as she explored and played. And I was the one who, in the midst of a relaxed, playful moment, had worry and angst on my face.
There have been very few moments in my life where the past has played back to me like a movie, but this was one of those times.
There I was, present 40 year old me, watching my 20 year old self follow my little one around. I saw the strain of the future on my face. I could read the insecurities, the pressure, the doubt, and fretting, right alongside of the joy and amazement that I was carrying.
I wanted to take my 20 year old self by the shoulders, get her to look me straight in the eyes, and tell myself that no amount of worry, strain, or fretting was going to change the outcome of my little girl’s life. In fact, releasing those things would allow both she and I to enjoy the moment in a much richer fashion.
I wanted to point out to her that the little one she was following was across the room as a beautiful grown lady, full of great character, love and grace. I wanted to tell her what a great job she was doing. I wanted to tell her that the lovely young lady that we were talking about didn’t evolve because she, as a parent, had done everything perfectly or had disciplined just the right way, or had read enough to her, or had her memorize enough scripture, or got her in the right dance classes or Spanish classes, etc. That little toddler grew into a godly young woman because of God’s grace, and because her dad and I had loved her well.
I wanted to tell my 20 year old self to relax. To stop and enjoy, thoroughly roll in, stretch out in, and live in each moment. I wanted to tell her to pray more, and off-load her worries on Him. I wanted to tell her to play more – to be spontaneous and quick to laugh. I wanted to tell her that the little phases of disobedience, forgetfulness, disrespectfulness, etc that her kids would go through were healthy, normal and temporary, and not to spend so much energy fighting to maintain control of the situation.
In short, I wanted to share all of my experience, perspective and lessons learned of the past 20 years with her so that her path may be a little easier, but for sure, more enjoyable. I think there is a book in that moment for me to write at some time.
But for now, I want to pass on the gift of perspective. Whatever stage you’re in right now, there will be a 20 year older self from the future wanting to send some messages to you. Messages of calming, messages of warning, messages of help. See if you can tap into those today.