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December has arrived, the Christmas season is here—and children are excited!
That excitement always reminds me of the beautiful words of Jesus:
Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. – Mathew 8:13.
What I know about children is this: they are pure. They are authentic. They are spontaneous.
Adam and Eve were like children—pure, authentic and certainly spontaneous. Remember the apple? Well, the infamous apple grew on the Tree of Knowledge, otherwise known as the tree of life.
Before eating the apple, they were innocent—but out of instinct, not out of will. That symbolic apple gave them the opportunity to choose to be pure, not out of naiveté, but out of knowledge and choice. The Baha’i teachings say we all have that same choice as adults—to grow to be more childlike. Here are four ways to become more like children:
1. Always Check your Motivation
When I think about purity, the first thing that pops into my mind is motivation. First I ask myself: what is my motivation? Do I have an ulterior motive? Being honest with yourself helps in this process!
2. Curtail the Hypocrisy
Children are who they are. They don’t have two selves: one in private and one for the public. They are authentic. Correcting one’s behavior to social or moral norms should not lead to an artificial or fake self. This is a tough one, as society encourages the seeking of popularity. Listen to Jesus in Luke 9:25, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
3. Sustain a Sense of Wonder
Children are filled with a delightful sense of wonder. Everything is new to their senses, and they drink it all in with total abandon. Staying open to learning and child-like delight can be difficult to maintain as we grow up and become engrossed in the routines and responsibilities of life. But the modern age is filled with fantastic discoveries and inventions, and knowledge is more accessible today than ever before in human history. Learning new things is easy, with the availability of the internet and free university courses, not to mention numerous other forms of media. The universe we live in definitely has no shortage of wonder!
4. Maintain Spontaneity Rather than Over-Thinking
Children are spontaneous in their actions and reactions. We have always been told that we must think before we speak or before we act—those are the social norms. But there is tremendous purity in reacting spontaneously when it comes from the heart and not the over-wrought mind.
These are certainly not the only ways we can regain the purity of childhood, but they may help put us on a path to becoming like little children. Baha’u’llah’s words give us a wonderful guide to this path of purity, authenticity and spontaneity:
O Son of Spirit! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting. – The Hidden Words, p. 3.