I sat on the park bench with my son in the stroller beside me. We had just taken a long walk and it felt good to get off my feet for a few minutes. The playground was nearby, and I found myself subtly observing the children and their parents.
Before becoming a mom, I could not care less about the goings on at a random playground. These days, however, I am intrigued by it all – the joyful shrieks, the angry tantrums, and the tender moments. I imagine what my son will be like as he continues to grow.
One little girl, in particular, caught my eye. She was about four years old and she had a little pink backpack stocked to the brim with things. All sorts of things. Dolls, crayons, electronic toys, and so on. Everything but the kitchen sink, it seemed. Her mom was gesturing toward her, waving her to the car. “Come on, honey,” she coaxed. “It’s time to go home and have lunch.” The mother patiently waited. It was clear she had experienced this before.
In spite of her mom’s best efforts, this little girl would not stop going through her backpack. It seemed she was doing an audit of sorts, making sure that nothing was left behind. Suddenly she gasped, “where’s my pony?! I can’t leave without my pony!” Then came the waterworks.
I smiled and laughed to myself. Children are so simple, and so blissfully unaware that the things they hold so dear are actually worth very little. Her mom was right there, offering her a hand, offering her food to provide real sustenance, and she was blinded by a tiny plastic toy which would be forgotten altogether in the days to come.
Shortly thereafter, I reached into my bag and pulled out my phone. I scrolled through my calendar for the afternoon and started to feel overwhelmed with my to-do’s. Grocery shopping was on the agenda for the way home since the refrigerator was bare. Crap, did I ever put my debit card back in my wallet? I unzipped my wallet frantically. Phew, it was there. That was a close one.
Searching the abyss of my bag for some chapstick, I was immediately reminded of an instance recently where I lost my purse. It was a horrible feeling. My phone, wallet, makeup – all of my daily “necessities” – lost in an instant. Naturally, I panicked and threw and adult-sized tantrum.
As I thought more on this, I began to feel convicted for mocking that little girl and her pink backpack.
Aren’t we just like that?
How often I feel God patiently gesturing me towards something more important, something of sustenance, and yet I frequently find myself getting caught up in the trivial to-dos of daily life. How naturally I find myself clinging to what I can physically see and feel while disregarding that which is unseen. I hold tightly to things that will be forgotten altogether in days to come, while hardly seeking that which is eternal.
How humbling. In and of myself I’m just like that little girl – distracted, unaware, and self-focused. Thank God for Christ, who offers us so much more than we can hope for or attain for ourselves. He fills our lives with what’s lasting.