Thursday, November 13, 2008
When my daughter was born, my parents gave her a Keepsake Box that included various things, like a special container for the hair from her first hair cut, a container for the wristband from the hospital when she was born, etc. One of the things included was a round box in which there were 9 stones. On each stone was one of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians - love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
These are things that are difficult to teach, because they are ultimately, well, fruit of the indwelling of God's Spirit in a person. There is the element of example - she will see our lives and the lives of the saints and ultimately the life of Jesus to know what all these things look like in a person's decisions. But there is also the element of giftedness to them. Ultimately, as a Christian, I believe God gives peace. We can choose to live in it or not, but it isn't something you learn like you learn how to wash the dishes. I started thinking about this, and I decided that maybe the best thing to do at this point in her little life is to lay the foundation of knowing that these are characteristics of God. Then, building on that, we can talk about how, if we want to have these things, too, we go to God for them.
So today I showed her the box. She was enthralled with it. I focused on the love stone, and we did activities surrounding the love of God. I put the word "God" on a piece of paper and taped it really high on the ceiling where she could never reach it. I told her to go get it, and she tried and tried (very cleverly), but it was too high. I told her that God is so far away because people are so often very naughty. I referenced how yesterday a little girl had made my daughter sad by being mean to her and different things that she could identify with. BUT, then I took the piece of paper down and said that God loves us so, so, so much that he doesn't want to be so far away. He wants to be close to us. And so when say we are sorry (we did the ASL sign for 'sorry'), God forgives us and we can be close to him. She was so excited by this. It just killed me, as someone trained in theology, to leave it at that, but it seemed to be as much as she could take in today.
She took the love stone to her dad, because she wanted him to have it, too. I prompted her to tell him what it means, and she told him all about how God was high up on the wall and we couldn't reach him, but then mommy took the paper down and this means that God loves her. She went around giving the love to everyone - me, the dog, her teddy bear, etc. - because she seemed to want everyone to have something so wonderful.
Then we sang simple songs about God's love (O, How I love Jesus because he first loved me; God loves me; Jesus loves me).
We did this impromptu litany in which I would tell her something was a gift from God - her bear, her Elmo, our dog, mommy, daddy, EVERYTHING - and then we'd say and sign together, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, God!!!"