My 3-year-old and I had lunch together this weekend, just the two of us. We had a “girl’s day” while the boys were at a football game. I let her choose the location for lunch – and she picked Panera because she wanted soup! (So proud of that girl – too refined for McDonald’s at age 3!)
I assumed that since it was only the two of us, she would dominate the conversation. At our family meals we usually have to fight for who gets to speak. Of course she would love the opportunity to have my complete attention!
But we spoke very little; and I did not feel the need to force conversation with my young daughter. We sat together at a big booth eating our warm bowls of soup. (I had the Autumn Squash soup – highly recommended.) We did not say much, but would occasionally trade small smiles. I can close my eyes even now and picture her sweet face, eyes shining. Her smile said “I feel safe, I feel content, I am happy, and I love you mommy.” All of this said through a smile – no words.
I might not have given this encounter much thought. However, an event earlier in the week made it more meaningful. My daughter made this with her little class of 3 and 4-year-olds at the Wednesday night education hour:
I haven’t had the chance to ask why these words were used; were they selected especially for my daughter, or did everyone’s sign say the same thing? Either way, the moment I saw this I knew it was meant or her. This so completely defines her and the gifts she has been given!
This girl smiles at everyone! She’ll smile at strangers in a store, she smiles and waves when she spots someone she knows across the room. She is spreading love and joy through non-verbal communication!
She did not get this gift from me! If you see me sitting across the room or walk past me in a store, I’m probably frowning. And it’s probably not because I’m unhappy or angry, but because I’m thinking, planning, or maybe even praying. Unfortunately, my natural non-verbal style is unapproachable, unkind, uncaring. It is a curse! I do not want these words to define me, especially to those who don’t know me well! How can I show and share God’s love, grace and presence in my life if I appear angry all the time!?
So, for me it takes conscious effort. It is something I work on all the time; I must be deliberate about my non-verbal presence so that I can be more welcoming and compassionate. I guess I need to take lessons from my 3-year-old!