The child in us
A Christian Science perspective on daily life.
Most of us know adults who exhibit childlike qualities. Whimsy, spontaneity, curiosity, innocence, or openness might characterize their nature. And while these qualities aren't limited to a certain age group, they sometimes serve as a throwback to earlier times (see today's Monitor, "Toys 'Я' (for) us grown-ups!").
Consider Elaine, a senior woman who created a story around the pending marriage of a tatty teddy bear named Ted to a doll named Dolly. Young girls from her apartment complex often joined her for tea to plan the upcoming extravaganza. Finally, Ted and Dolly married, much to everyone's delight. Elaine's childlikeness brought joy to the children (and even adults). Some might view this as childish. But the qualities Elaine expresses not only round out her nature as the child of God, but also have forwarded her career as an artist and interior designer.
And a current trend shows that you don't have to be an artist to benefit from embracing childlikeness and creativity as part of your being. Today, companies have discovered that play fosters creativity. Some provide rooms with foosball and pinball machines, pool and ping-pong tables for a much needed break. Creative solutions often come out of moments of departure from a frenzied day. These examples illustrate the vast difference between childlikeness and childishness.
Neither Elaine's successful career nor the provision for play by flourishing companies would advocate childishness, which lacks maturity and poise. In fact, St. Paul wrote of the need to throw off such immaturity: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (I Cor. 13:11). The challenges of our time demand mature, though creative, solutions; so we all must put away the childishness of quick fixes, self-interest, incessant entertainment and thrill-seeking, and the failure to accept our due responsibility.