What are your memories of Kindergarten?
Even though my long-term memory resembles Dorie’s, I have clear pictures of swinging at recess, Kool Aid and cookies at snack and carrying baby dolls around the house-keeping center.
Kindergarten has changed a lot since the simple time when I was there. Kids today are expected to start reading, writing and ‘rithmatic, but in my generation, there was a philosophy that play built an important foundation for children. Teachers filled our 5-year-old days with the basics to develop our small-motor skills like coloring inside the lines and cutting paper hearts. The wee people circulated through centers “cooking” plastic foods and putting together puzzles. It looked like pure fun, but all the activities were designed to ready our minds for learning in the upper grades.
Kindergarten was a wonderful place. And as Robert Fulghum has famously said, everything important starts there. Kindergarten is a wonderful place… until you get sent back there from college.
Even though I believe that foundations are important, it has felt uncomfortable and a little demeaning to get sent back to the beginnings of my spiritual schooling. In the last five years or so, it’s as if I’ve been hearing God whisper, “Go back, Amy. Relearn the things you used to know.” God lovingly sent me back to Kindergarten.
I’ve gone back to the simple things. God loves me. Life is best when I trust Him. Belief is the bedrock for everything else. These simple beliefs are where I’ve experienced being re-schooled by God, and it’s been good. But honestly, it’s been hard too. It’s hard for a woman who has loved Jesus for 40 years to admit that she needs to understand Jesus’ love. It’s humbling for a Bible teacher to go from meat back to milk.
Yet it’s the path God’s had for me, and there are three things I’ve learned that I hope will help you go back to the basics too:
- Simple truths aren’t insignificant truths. Just because our babies lisp through “Jesus Loves Me” with trilling voices doesn’t mean we can skip this essential belief. The simple beliefs of our faith are usually the foundational beliefs. Just like with houses, sometimes our foundations need shored up after years of the wear and tear of life. Sometimes foundations need straightened from the weight of what gets piled on top. Our spiritual selves are the same. Revisiting the beginning can leave us “straightened” and refreshed.
- It takes humility to go back when we want to forge onward. I could have ignored God’s beckonings back to His simple truths, but where would I be today? I’d be more numbed and my faith would be more wrecked than it was a decade ago. It’s not fun for a speaker and writer to disappoint the “spiritual crowd” with simple truths, but any disappointment I’ve caused along the way has been a result of a soul that’s more well-fed than when I started this journey. This reminder from Paul makes it all worth it, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (I Cor. 13:1) I was missing love, and it required humility to admit it and go back to receive it.
- When we return to the basics of faith, we aren’t dumbing down. We’re leveling up. When Cheri and I were recording Grit ‘n’ Grace last year, she painted a word picture that has stuck with and comforted me in my journey back ever since she explained it. If you watch kids play video games, you’ll know that upward levels may look the same while being more difficult. Conquering each increasingly challenging level, no matter how similar they may look, is called “leveling up”. The journey through simple truths is the same. Each time I revisit the simple truth “God loves me,” I learn a little more about His love. I believe it a little more deeply. What looks like regression to others–and may even feel like it to me–is actually progress.
Simple has been hard for me in some ways (!), but I’m so glad I’m learning to embrace it. God’s simple truths have brought deeper love, greater trust and bolder belief into my life. My 2018 word is “pray.” I’m re-learning simple prayer, and I’ll share some of my early insights next week.
How about you? What’s your word for the year? What are you learning so far?