Monday, May 12, 2014

Others First: Thailand

Did you know I’m not really a ‘kid’ person? I don’t consider myself someone who really enjoys being around children. Being the one who has to entertain a child for really any period of time, and the idea of having one of my own, just seems so ridiculous I often laugh at the idea of it.

Why am I not a kid person? No reason in particular—I’ve never had a bad experience with children and there have been no traumatic events. I treat children like humans (as they are) and they generally respond well. Any child I tend to be around kind of understands I am someone they can sit with, but if they want to play around a bunch, they should find someone else. Bottom line, if there were a hyperactive child around who yells, runs, and is constantly up to shenanigans, I would choose to not be around.  Does this all sounds harsh? Perhaps. I don’t think people say things like this out loud so it is something we don't become familiar with hearing, even though they may be feeling it. 

If you aren’t a kid person, you probably understand where I am coming from and you probably understand what it is like to hear from folks with, or without, kids that you will surely become a kid person one day and basically become Mother Goose and Mother Theresa in one. While it’s true, you may change and become the most amazing person with children ever (!!) it’s also true you just might not. 
Both of these are OK. 
I know enough kid people to keep the kids in our lives happy. To be the most effective in serving other people and adhering to the gifts and talents I have been given, I know my strength is to stick to treating children like adults.
Want to talk about how you are, how your day is? Come on down.
Want to just sit with someone and not even have a conversation? I’m your lady.
Want to hug, cuddle, or hold hands for a while without doing anything else? Come at me, bro!
I am so down for these simple acts of love that make a difference.

What’s the most funny about all of this ‘not a kid person’ businesses is how, in Thailand, I volunteer at a children’s home.

What I find to be the best is that I don’t have to be a ‘kid person’ to hang out with these kids and get along with them. We sit together, hold hands, colour in silence, hug it out, and simply smile at each other to share moments. I don’t have to run around and play games (although when it’s organized game time I do and it’s enjoyable). I also don’t have to come up with a million different things to do to keep them occupied. It’s simple. It’s comfortable.

After Hair-Braiding, these little ladies brought me a bottle
of water (which I never had to carry or open) and picked
flowers for all of us to wear in our hair.
Loving & Serving.
Being comfortable at the children’s home is something our volunteers find easy. The kids are the most welcoming, gracious, others-centered human beings you will meet.  Notice I didn’t say ‘children you will meet’, I do mean people. These children are being raised in an environment that has a ‘love filter’ on everything they do. From serving meals and chores to general playtime, the idea of someone else coming before you is a concept they easily live out. It’s second nature to them—and it’s convicting for me. As an individual who strives to live an others-centered life I can say, with all amount of honesty in me, these kids put me to shame. Their priority is always to love people and ensure those around them are doing well before they think of themselves. When it’s a mealtime they ensure the other kids around them (especially the little ones) are ready to go. When it’s time to do an activity it’s ensured everyone around them knows what is going on and can fully participate with all the resources necessary (sharing is caring—even with oil paints and glue). When guests are around, ensuring they feel like they fit in, helping them figure things out and mesh with the routine is a priority you can feel.

Thanks Pinterest!

It’s truly incredible to experience yourself being the individual put first when the person putting you first is around 10 years old—or younger. When the person taking care of you (ensuring you are being well fed, hydrated and pampered with coffee, cookies, and the best seat in the house) is younger then half your age you feel a few things—humbled, convicted, gracious, and a sense of ‘wow, I have a lot to learn’. The way I feel I can learn so much from the kids around me at the home is quite awesome. It reminds me of the following scripture:
"And He called a little child to Himself and put him in the midst of them And said, Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all]. Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving] is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 18:2-4 (AMP)

I believe the characteristics the children at the home display are contributing factors to what the Bible has to say about having child-like faith. The ease of sharing and caring, loving and accepting, and mostly prioritizing others are the simple things children can do without giving it another thought. It’s often adults, tainted by our history and perceptions, which cause us to loose that child-like wonder.  What is even more amazing is these kids have every reason to not act like this. The assumption is their previous exploitative or at-risk situations would make them act the exact opposite! Talk about really being put to shame in how we act!

Let’s strive to put others first, always. I know I will think back to this time in Thailand and use the children’s acts of selfless kindness as my inspiration and example of every-day simple ways I can put others first. It doesn’t have to be some huge expression, some elaborate display of selflessness—it’s the simple things that can consistently show the most love, the most kindness, the most priority of serving others first.

Thanks Pinterest!

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