Things Above

I’ve made it to verse 13 in my challenge to memorize Colossians 3.  There are lots of people words in verse 13…each other, one another, any of you, someone…so it’s taking a little longer to stick than the last few.

Apparently Chica’s been listening as I’ve been practicing out loud.  Today on our ride to a friend’s house, she asked out of nowhere (because isn’t that how the best conversations always start)…

“What does ‘set your minds on things up above’ mean?”

There’s nothing quite like having to explain truth to a five year old to let you know whether you’ve got it or not.

I think I said something like, “We should spend our time thinking about God instead of worrying about things that are less important in our everyday lives.”  Since that explanation was met with silence, I knew I was going to need to do better than that.  Chica is certainly a verbal processor, and she starts explaining things back to you (always with her own twist) if she thinks she’s got it.  That wasn’t happening yet.

Just like me, I knew she needed an example.  I had a pretty concrete example from last week at the library…

That day I made the mistake of attempting the library without Bubba’s stroller.  Chica was way into an Elephant and Piggie book, but Bubba was much more into pulling one book after another off the shelf.  My chaos quotient had long been passed, and I needed to get out of there fast.  But Chica wasn’t budging….only whining.  So I got down in her ear and whispered a very mean sounding threat.  Meanwhile Bubba is sprinting across the library and has made it clear across the building by the time I’m done with Chica.  I run to catch him, and then she runs to catch us.  I gave her a few more ugly words, this time with her chin in my hands (the I’m Really Serious signal in our house), and then marched my grumpy little family out of that place.

In the car I was just fuming…rolling everyone’s bad choices over and over in my head.  But it didn’t take too long before something else rolled on in there…set your hearts on things above.  Certainly my crappy attitude wasn’t above.  A few verses later it says to rid yourselves of anger….the verse I had been working on that day.  Though I admit it wasn’t immediate, I tried to use these two verses as reason to cool off and just let it go.  First…get rid of the anger.  Second…think bigger picture about what might be happening here.  The best I could come up with on my ten minute ride home is that I was being given an opportunity to model for them an appropriate (or inappropriate…ugh!) way to handle frustration.  If I want them to have a Christ-like attitude in difficult situations, I better start trying to model that myself…and admitting when I don’t get it right.

Sooo….back to today’s question in the car.  The whole library example was so concrete and real for me, but way too much to give Chica today.  So I stalled with my fair share of ummmms and welllllls, and finally attempted a few five year old “for examples”:

  • If it’s your first day of kindergarten and you start to worry about having the best clothes, the coolest backpack, sitting next to your favorite friend, and knowing all the right things to say, then this is thinking about the earthly stuff.  But if you set your mind on things above, then instead you’ll be thinking more about God’s promises to protect you and provide for you in a new situation.
  • If you and a friend are playing, and you both want to play with the same toy, you have two choices.  Earthly choice:  “I want to play with that toy because it’s the coolest, I don’t have one of those at home, and you’ve already played with it for too long.”  Things above:  “I’ll let my friend have it because this is what Jesus would do.  Maybe by sharing I can show my friend what it means to be like Jesus.”
  • If you are at Nana’s house watching TV, and Nana says it’s time to go see Mema,  you could tell her, “I don’t want to go…I just want to watch this show.”  That would be focusing on the earthly stuff.  But you could also think, “Ok…I’ll go because I know that going to see her makes her feel good and loved.”  This is thinking about things above.

Her feedback after each of the examples made me think she was getting the idea, but I know from my own life that this is definitely an easier-said-than-done kind of lesson.

Well apparently it’s more accurately an easier-done-when-five-than-thirty kind of lesson.  My friend called me tonight to tell me about what had happened when we weren’t listening.  We were gabbing about teacher stuff while her teenage daughter entertained four little kids in her room. They were each picking a piece of paper for a project, and Chica wanted the same piece as one of the other girls.  It sounds like there was a short protest, then something like, “I’m going to let you have that one because I’m thinking about things above.    The paper is an earthly thing.”

Bam.  I have so much to learn from her.

But just in case you are tempted to think that she’s an angel (Grandma!) and always goes around quoting scripture, I leave you with one other conversation that happened today.  Again, out of nowhere in the car:

Chica:  There are just so many ways to do it.
Me:  Do what, Chica?  You mean think about things above?
Chica:  No, Mom.  I mean when I burp I can make so many different sounds.
Me:  Oh.  Yeah, that too.