“I’m gonna hop, hop, hop,” my two-year-old daughter shouts as she hops and runs down the sidewalk, a made-up song spilling out with her giggles.
“Mommy! I’m gonna fly like a plane,” she shouts again as she extends her arms above her sides and starts to run.
I watch her.
It doesn’t cross her mind that anyone, but me, is watching.
She’s not even aware that anyone else might be paying attention or that we’re “in public.”
She’s not trying to impress anyone….
Or wondering what someone might think.
She is simply testing her abilities and finding creative ways to express herself and have fun.
I long to protect that—that innocent and unrestrained self-expression and playfulness.
And, I wonder when I lost it. When we lost it.
I wonder when we stopped testing our abilities, because we started to believe failure was a bad thing or when our shouts turned to a whisper and then to silence, because someone told us we were too loud or talked too much or didn’t have anything valuable to say.
Or when we started to compare our made-up songs or made-up poems with someone else’s and thought we better stop “making up,” because we weren’t any good at it anyway.
Sometimes, it takes a child to remind us what it looks like to express ourselves and create without fear.
There are times when we call our children reckless; we say they have no sense of danger or that they’re too courageous.
I wonder what age those words start sticking and when our caution starts to plant seeds of fear and reluctance in our children.
Of course, we have to teach our children boundaries and, of course, we have to teach them about danger.
But, why do our boundary lines move closer and closer inward until we will not move or speak or create or play for fear that we’ll cross the line?
The very line we ourselves created.
Why have we allowed fear to keep us silent?
Or keep us so heavily guarded that the words we speak or the things we create have little impact, because they’re not striking deep places, simply because we’re afraid to pull from deeper within ourselves?
As much as I long to protect the creativity, imagination, and uninhibited expression within my daughter, I long—even more—to cultivate it.
I long to find ways to keep her imagination and creativity alive, to fan the flame, and to keep it growing….
to call out all that’s inside of her to come forth and encounter the world…to make it brighter, to make it better.
And, when I create space for her to sing, dance, paint, or run without me drawing imaginary boundary lines around her with my “be careful,” or my “not so loud,” I see the most of her, I see the best of her…..I see what she’s made of.
And, when I create space for her to express herself without worry of a mess or a fall, she challenges herself and she surprises me, because “I didn’t know she could do that—I thought she was too young.”
Then, I wonder if I would create space, if there are places in my life where I’d surprise myself, because “I didn’t know I could do that.”
My daughter reminds me what it looks to create without fear.
Her very act of creating without fear is itself a creation, because it sparks in me the desire to create.
And, I start to think that if we’d all be a little braver, a little less restrained, and we’d extend those boundary lines out a little more…we’d see an outpouring of gifts, talents, ideas, and works-of-art that would begin to drown out the destruction in our world.
Because, if we’re not making something new or finding ways to breathe new life into what’s already been created, we’re either staying stagnant or we’re destroying the things that we’ve made.
Although we’ve never met in person, Holly and I connected through Her View From Home and hit it off right away. It took a few phone conversations before I realized that she is a Cozad, Nebraska native and her dad worked with my husband’a grandparents there. I’m so pleased to share her with you today. Please go to her website and order her book!
Holly Mthethwa is passionate about sharing God’s word in everyday life. She’s been a missionary advisor in Peru and India and is the author of the Christian memoir “Hot Chocolate in June: A True Story of Loss, Love, and Restoration.” She resides just outside of Washington, D.C. where she lives an adventure with her husband and daughter. Holly writes regularly about faith, family, and moments that have hooked her heart at www.ruggedandredeemed.com.
To read more from Holly, check out her book “Hot Chocolate in June” on Amazon or visit her blog at ruggedandredeemed.com.