Beautiful little girl playing with the otters at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Go with the bubblegum

I went to the dentist yesterday. I understand needing to go, especially on a regular basis, but going to the dentist is never fun. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I don’t handle scraping well. Any kind of scraping. I shudder even when I scratch someone’s back because the vibrations of fabric on my fingernails send shivers up my spine, so having a dental hygienist scraping around on my teeth with a sharpened spike is torture.

But it’s a necessary discomfort. And I am blessed to have insurance that provides for two dental checkups a year. But something really excellent happened this time–and it wasn’t that I didn’t have cavities.

The dentist had different flavored polishes!

For years and years, all you could have was mint if you were a grownup. Mint. Mint. But not even good mint. Mint that tasted like it’d been rolled in sand and left in the sun too long. Bleck. Only kids got a choice of flavors. But now? Now you can choose cherry and strawberry and raspberry and a host of other flavors–including bubblegum.

Bubblegum! A dentist hadn’t used a bubblegum-flavored polish on my teeth since I was a little girl. But as excited as I got about that, I thought that maybe I should choose cherry. Or maybe I shouldn’t even be excited. Maybe I should just go with mint. Isn’t that what a real grownup would do?

Beautiful little girl playing with the otters at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Beautiful little girl playing with the otters at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Luke 18:16-17.

Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

Where do adults get the idea that we have to act so grown up all the time? I think part of the reason some people love kids so much is that they don’t hold their emotions back. When they’re excited, you know they’re excited. When they’re sad, you know they’re sad. With a grownup, it’s hard to tell because grownups have had years and years of practice in hiding what they really feel and think.

Why? Because it’s childish to get emotional over things. At least, that’s what we’re told.

Children are real. They’re open and honest and genuine. Sure, there are some corkers who figured out how to lie and manipulate at an early age, but that’s learned behavior. Most kids I know are genuinely honest little people. They’ll tell me exactly what they think.

I miss that as an adult, especially in the big bad grownup world of politics and corporate careers. And I don’t understand why we have to give up that openness and honesty as adults. I don’t see why we have to lose the innocence and the excitement of childhood just because we’ve had some of our dreams come crashing down.

I think that’s why adults lose the joy of childhood. Children are idealistic. They dream and play and imagine, and then they grow up and realize that the world is broken and their parents don’t have all the answers and their teachers don’t know everything and they won’t always be rewarded for doing the right thing. How else do you react when you realize those things? It’s a lot easier to stop believing, to stop imagining, to stop dreaming, especially when it seems less and less likely that your dreams will come true.

Well, here’s something awesome. If you’re a Christ-follower, you never have to stop dreaming. Just because you have a dream and it doesn’t come true right now, you don’t have to give up dreaming altogether. That’s one thing amazing about God. He wants to fulfill our dreams, but they have to come true according to His plan and His design. We just have to be patient.

So don’t be ashamed of childlike faith. Don’t be afraid of childlike excitement, especially when God is doing something amazing. People may look at you funny. People may think you’re nuts. Don’t worry about it. Deep down inside they’re just wishing they knew God well enough to find the same kind of joy you have. And if you get the opportunity, don’t hesitate to share it with them.

And the next time you’re at the dentist and you get the opportunity to have bubblegum-flavored tooth polish, do it. I did. And it made my day.