Profound doesn’t have to be complex. Oftentimes, the most profound truths are also the simplest.
After spending time at Edisto Beach recently with Lauren, my favorite two-year-old, I jotted down 11 rules I learned from her that I want to apply to my life. I think you'll find them worth considering, also.
11 Life Lessons from Lauren
1. Look closely at the world around you. Lauren examines everything. Seashells, fish, even the lemon-scented soft soap in the bathroom is worth a close-up look. She notices the tiniest crab as he scuttles along the beach, Papa and Gigi’s toothbrushes hanging in the bathroom, and the unfortunate snake that didn’t look both ways before he crossed the road. Because I’m not very observant, Lauren is a great example to me.
2. Ask for help. There are many things two-year-olds can’t do. They don’t know how to eat a push up pop, build a sand castle, or open boiled peanuts. They don’t know how to get sand out of their bathing suits, catch a hermit crab, or jump over waves. They do, however, know when they need help and aren’t afraid to ask for it. Most of us could take a page from their playbook. Admitting our need or lack of knowledge is both humbling and empowering.
3. Spend one-on-one time with those you love. Lauren loves snuggling on the porch swing, cuddling for a nap, or talking about whatever comes to mind. Summer vacations are great opportunities to spend time with extended family and friends, but they shouldn’t be the only time we hang out. Even if you don’t live nearby, a visit by phone, Skype, or Face Time can be great for letting friends and family know you love them.
4. Laugh often. Every day Lauren makes silly jokes and funny faces. Her giggle sounds like joy bubbling out. Her original songs, dramatic gestures, and perceptive insights keep us smiling. She is our family’s comic relief. Even after she goes to bed, we’re still laughing as we compare notes on the hilarious things she did that day. Since laughing boosts our immune system, relieves stress, and lowers our blood pressure, we’d all be wise to follow Lauren’s lead and laugh often and laugh well.
5. Respect your limitations. Lauren needed a little help with this one. I noticed that her normally sunny disposition would take a nosedive if she felt hungry or tired. Thankfully, she has attentive parents who recognize the signs and intervene. A well-timed snack or nap restores her equilibrium, and she’s good to go again.
We, too could benefit from understanding and respecting our limitations. If our bodies function best on seven or more hours of sleep, we should do everything we can to allow for this. If we work best in the morning or the evening, in a quiet atmosphere or a busting one, we should try to accommodate these dynamics instead of fighting against them. There will always be times when we have to make do in less than ideal situations, but ignoring the way God created us is always counterproductive.
6. When you’re there, be all there. There’s something delightful about the abandon of a child. They don’t hold back, hedge their bets, or have one toe in. Since this was Lauren’s first real trip to the ocean, we were curious to see how she’d react. Enthusiastic is an understatement. She chased waves, dug in the sand, and lay on her belly and splashed. She came home every day with sand in her hair, mouth, ears, and, well, other places we won’t mention. Bottom line for us grownups? Wherever we are, be fully engaged. Multitasking shortchanges everyone, including ourselves.
7. Slow down and savor instead of gallop and gulp. Ever watched a two-year-old eat a peanut butter cracker? First you twist it to separate the top from the bottom. Next you scrape the peanut butter off with your teeth. Then you eat the top. Then, because you notice the seagulls gathering around you, you break off a corner and toss it their way. One piece for Lauren, one piece for the birds. One piece for Lauren, one piece for the birds. It’s not a speedy way to eat, nor is it the most efficient, but it sure is satisfying. I wonder how many simple pleasures we miss because we’re gulping instead of savoring?
". . . and a little child shall lead them" (Isa. 11:6).
In my next blog post, I'll share Part II of Life Lessons from Lauren. If you haven't subscribed to receive twice-weekly blog posts, now is a great time to sign up so you won't miss a single post.