And he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
Tell me, what was your favorite thing to play as a child? Your favorite craft to make or story to read?
I have vivid memories of riding around in an old go-kart at my friend Kathleen’s house. The driver would ask the passenger to close her eyes so she could take her companion on a wild adventure. The driver would then narrate what was happening: “We’re driving through a haunted forest being chased by ghosts and need to get away!” or “We’re on the world’s fastest roller coaster, and we’re about to go down the first hill!”
Then she’d jerk the wheel from side to side, driving over mounds of grass, as the passenger shrieked with glee.
Afterward, we’d go inside and take one of Kathleen’s snow globes off the shelf. We’d stand on the couch and “sprinkle” the snow globe over our heads like pixie dust, then we’d JUMP! as high as we could, off the couch, making a wish upon the landing.
“Did you see me?” we’d ask. “I think I flew a little bit!” Then we’d scurry back onto the couch to give it another go.
Childhood. It can be magic, and it is my belief that reconnecting with those imaginative parts of ourselves is what will bring us closer to the people Jesus intended us to be. He said so himself in Matthew 18:1-4…
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.
And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”
What is it about children that Jesus values so much? What characteristics do they posses that he longs for us to reclaim as well? I think there are several.
They are playful. Children can find wonder in the smallest of things. Give them a rock and they call it a treasure. A cardboard box becomes a rocket ship and an empty paper towel roll, a spyglass.
God delights in us and longs for us to delight in the gifts He’s created for us.
Children are unashamedly themselves. Rarely do they ever care what people think. They express themselves and their emotions in various ways - crying, screaming, laughing, creating. They proudly display the things they make and call them masterpieces without anyone else’s permission.
Children know how to let go of worry and fall into trust. They do it automatically. They trust that they will be provided for and spend their time exploring the world around them.
Children are not worried about being the best or the greatest. They are simply content to be.
Doesn’t that sound appealing? A worry-free life where we can just play and be as we are, in love with our truest selves and embracing an all-out trust in God.
Unfortunately, we live in a broken world that often forces us to trade wonder for worry. Jesus knew reclaiming a childlike faith and way of being would be a key part of the transformation process.
So, today, I invite you to take a step toward becoming more like a child.
Listed below are two playful process art projects. Each exercise can be done individually, with a group of friends, or with your kids.
Feel free to just be yourself and do the art project, or, for those of you who insist on a deeper dive (which is the camp I often fall into), I’ve included some reflection questions as well.
1. Things Collage
A bunch of small things. Think buttons, sequins, rocks, torn up pieces of paper, bits of ribbon and string
Liquid Glue (such as Elmers)
Hot glue gun (if you’re working with heavier objects)
Pieces of cardboard or cardstock
Crayons or paint
First, gather your things. If you have kids or even if you don’t, it could be fun to do a “treasure hunt” or nature walk to gather up things you want to use on your collage.
Start collaging! There are literally no rules to this project. Just cut, paste, glue and make!
Why did you choose the materials you chose? Do you have a favorite?
Did creating your collage spark any memories from your childhood? What were they?
How did it feel to take some time to just play?
If you have children, start the conversation by simply stating: Tell me about your collage.
2. Self Portrait
(Adapted from Art Workshop for Children by Barbara Rucci)
Glass of water
Set the supplies out in front of you, but don’t start painting right away
Ask yourself (or your kids), “How does it feel to be you?”
When you’re ready, pick up the marker and paints and create a self portrait. Remember, this portrait is more about feelings than it is about how you actually look. Don’t be afraid to venture into the abstract.
Why did you choose the colors you chose?
What was your primary feeling as you created?
How did it feel to play a little bit?
If you have children, another good way to spark conversation is to simply say: “Tell me about your painting.”
*Remember, there are no right or wrong ways to do these projects. If you’re working with kids, refrain from directing them and allow them to play and explore as they create. Give yourself and your children permission to make mistakes and find creative solutions to problems as you create. This is process art, and the purpose lies more in the process than in the result.