My Heart, the Three-year-old
“He makes me lie down in green pastures”
My heart reminds me of a 3 year old: full of life and vim, silly, willful, curious, always learning, trusting, playful, quirky, clueless, undaunted, spirited, and busy – oh so busy.
The 3-year-old is certain they know everything, including the well-known fact that streets are perfectly safe to play in. These citizens are fiercely independent and quite ready to rule the world. We’ll frequently hear them say, “No!” and “I do it myself!” While they are waaaay past the terrible twos, if someone is in their way, the 3 year old is not past knocking them over to get through. Or walking up and bopping a friend with Thomas the Tank Engine. Or saying “mine!” and grabbing the communal Thomas the Tank Engine, then bopping the friend in the head with it. Concepts like selflessness, delayed gratification, and impulse-control are at the pre-delivery stage. Kinda sounds like Hwy 26. Or the adults at work. Or in your family. Or church – ouch!
I have a theory. I’ve been a believer for over 30 years and I’ve learned that, at its core, my heart is still pretty much at the 3 year old level. I’ve met a lot of people in my life, and I’ve never met a person whose heart is much past this level. My theory is that most normal hearts, no matter how old, how spiritual, how educated, or how sophisticated, don’t stray very far from three-years-old.
In some ancient traditions, the heart (kardia, in Greek) is synonymous with the mind. It is the center of your character, who you really are. It is in the heart/mind that you think your thoughts and purposes. There, you consider and weigh matters, and come to an understanding. It is where you believe and exercise faith. It is the parliament or senate of your physical, emotional, and spiritual life: your will, passions, desires, purposes, intelligence are governed and processed there and then manifested outwardly.
“The heart is the parliament or senate of your physical, emotional, and spiritual life.” hannah t.k.
That is why we are admonished to “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (1) To guard it means to keep it in sight and under careful observation, to tend it. Think of yourself as a high profile security personnel on a mission with a special subject. Guard your heart as there is much of value at risk.
ALWAYS be on guard because the 3-year-old is always up to something! If it’s too quiet, you better run and investigate what is going on. There are potential risks around every corner, from within the child and from without. Your eye has to be on them regularly. I am not advocating for helicopter parenting. Set the child up to be safe to explore their environment. Allow for their regular exploring, and the occasional fall and bump, it is a vital part of learning. What I am saying is that their cognitive capacity requires overseeing.
So it is with our hearts. While we embrace life and jump in with both feet, we have to be very careful what we allow our hearts to get into. We sometimes put ourselves in situations we have no business being in. Sometimes we narrowly escape unscathed, other times we pay a very expensive price, and that for a long time. How often do we say to ourselves, “What was I thinking?”
It is imperative that we constantly train the 3-year-old. We should carefully nurture and harness the healthy aspects of this wonderful phase. That entails exposing them to intense, ongoing teaching and modeling. It entails repeating lessons you have taught – a lot. Same thing with our hearts – it behooves us to expose ourselves to trusted, healthy teaching and models. We rarely learn important lessons the first time around, or the tenth. It takes repetition and practice.
Why do they force preschoolers to take naps when they have no such interest? Let the adults take the naps while the munchkins rule the world! In addition to training, another dire need for three-year-old is rest. They will go till they drop. A good caregiver will closely monitor activity levels of the three-year-old and learn to read them, anticipating melt-downs, they know just when to cease activity and call for rest. Times of rest avert crises and allow them, and us, to recharge and have a fresh perspective on things.
Regularly, the shepherd has to make the sheep have quiet time, but they won’t lie down just anywhere. The surroundings must be such that foster tranquility. He will make you lie down, but you must choose to rest. For our hearts, the greatest place of rest is in the presence of The Shepherd, regardless of our circumstances. Wherever He is, there is ‘green pasture’ for the heart – the luxuries of peace and rest. This treasure, that is available to you for free, the world chases after frantically and does not achieve. So no matter what you’re going through today, sidle up beside your Shepherd and know His peace.
“He will make you lie down,
but you must choose to rest.”
His presence is like a powerful modem. He is offering free WiFi. I can’t tell you the number of times I racked up massive phone bills because I was overusing data that I was paying for, instead of accessing the WiFi that was available to me. In what ways are you doing that physically, emotionally, spiritually. In what ways are you saying, “I don’t wan’t you WiFi, I have data”? He has already paid for the WiFi – it’s free for you. All you have to do is believe it and sign-in. Then you can access boundless benefits.
Sometimes I have so many apps open on my device, that it grinds to a halt. My kids frequently lecture me on the need to shut some down so others can work well. I also need to turn it off regularly so it can update. In His presence, I can power down. He’s got this. My work, passions, and dreams will be safe under His watchful eye. It’s not all on me to make everything happen. I have to trust that when I power down, I’m not going to miss out on life. In fact, life is not going to miss out on me. Nor is the universe going to spiral out of control if I take a break. In His presence I can plug in to my source and recharge. In the words of one of my favorite bloggers, “I have enough time to rest, but I don’t have a minute to waste.” Sonam Tsering “Sonsnow”
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” –Lao Tzu
Take a deep breath little one. Light a while. Trust. Close your eyes. Say with me, “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child in his mother’s arms, so is my soul within me.” (2) Do not be afraid. Do not fret. Breathe. Lie down. He’s got you. Turn up the amazing words of the Hillsong song, “Still”, below and be deeply blessed.
“… for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” 2 Tim 1:12 (Berean Study Bible)
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All scriptures are quoted from the New International Version
- Proverbs 4:23
- Psalm 131:2