My eyes found her from across the room doing one of the things she loves to do most, dance! Knees bobbing. Toes tapping. Shoulders swaying. She was dancing – in church no less! I remember the moment I learned that dancing in church isn’t what people do. She hasn’t learned that yet and I hope she never does.
In watching her my immediate response was overwhelming joy and delight. There’s something special about a 4-year-old being free enough to dance in church and not give a rip about what people think. There are many days I wish I could be like her and wish others in our church could too.
But I as watched more closely, I noticed something unusual about her movements. They seemed more rigid, jerky and mechanical than usual. It was almost as though someone was telling her how to move, yet she couldn’t keep up. This was strange. Often she’s so free-flowing and graceful (as graceful as a 4-year-old can be that is). As I focused my gaze on her more intently, I noticed her gaze was also sharply fixed. And when I realized what she was watching it all made sense.
She was watching her mom on stage and whatever her mom did she followed suit. When her mom’s hands went up, her hands went up. When her mom moved her hands over her heart, she moved her hands over her heart. When her mom swayed her head back and forth, she swayed her head back and forth. She was watching her mom and mimicking her every move.
The realization that your kids are watching and mimicking you can be a little scary. Especially when they start reflecting back your bad habits and foul mouth. But at the same time, this little girl has a lot of wonderful things to take in.
She may not fully comprehend what she’s seeing, but she’s taking it in nonetheless.
She may not fully know that her mom is brave and courageous. That she takes risks and puts herself out there even when it’s easier to hide in the shadow.
She may not grasp that her mom has an immeasurable amount of strength and grit. That she keeps at it and doesn’t give up even though it’s sometimes tempting to quit.
She see the fruit of her mom pursuing her passion but probably doesn’t understand all of the hard work she’s put in to bring it to fruition.
She frequently has a front row seat to her mom’s need for Jesus. It probably doesn’t make sense now, but this, I pray, is what will impact her the most – her mom’s willingness to be vulnerable even with a 4-year-old and say she was wrong and needs forgiveness.
I know there may be a time when the idea of being like her mom will make her wanna crawl out of her skin. But for now she’s watching. Her eyes are wide open and she’s soaking it all in. It may take her a few decades to have eyes to see who her mom really is, but I think one day she’ll see and understand. I pray she’ll be grateful and even desire to be a lot like her.
Your kids are watching too. What are they seeing?