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Encouragement Article

Innocent Joy

Recently, my family went RVing. We don't own an RV, nor have our children ever been in one, so we rented one and went away for a long weekend.

Overall, it was an excellent trip!

Visited family we hadn't seen in a while, experienced cooler weather which was welcomed after our Texas summer, and got wonderful quantity and quality time with my wife and boys. The only difficult part of the trip? Sleeping in an RV.

To set the stage, the RV was a medium sized Class-C Motorhome. Small bed over the cab, bed in the back with "privacy" curtain, and small table that doubles as a bed for a hobbit.

Overall, not too bad. More than enough for a few days of camping when most of the day is outdoors anyway. The only other details? We have 3 boys: 5 , 2 , and 6 months at the time. Our 5 year old sleeps great. 2 year old normally gets up a couple times in the night. 6 month old still nurses at least once a night. But in this case, sleeping in a pack-n-play in the only floor space of the RV, missed Mama more than normal and was up 3 to 4 times a night. I don't say all this for empathy. We have 3 kids 5 and under, we know anything is going to have its difficulties. And difficult doesn't mean bad. I say all this to set the scene for my point of the article. Each morning we woke to either a 2 year old or baby crying, well before the sun came up. Generally crying from someone (my wife and I included) continued for another 30 minutes while we tried to scrounge breakfast together, nurse a baby, pack up the pack-n-play, brush teeth, get dressed all within a confined space. One morning however, in the midst of the chaos, an innocent joy emerged. Our 6 month old was crying, still in the pack-n-play, while we organized for the day. My wife and I were exhausted from the restless night and the night before. Our 2 year old had an ear ache and was also crying. Then in the middle of this high anxiety moment, our oldest began to sing. Standing over the pack-n-play, reaching down rubbing his baby brothers head, in the sweetest little voice, sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Everything stopped. We sat and listened. Joined in the next time around. I marveled at his heart, jealous of his purity in the situation. Then celebrated the joy he brought to our family. In that moment, the entire day was re-routed. I went from anxiety, frustration, and stress to peace. From 'this is going to be a long day' to 'what a joyful day this will be'. His ability to spark joy in places I couldn't image is beyond my comprehension.

By no means is this the first time something along this line has happened. I'm sure if you have small children you have experienced it too. Generally, it's in moments of high stress, anxiety, or frustration where a children's innocence is highlighted. They are unable to capture the gravity of a situation. They are hardwired for play. Made to be joyful. Another example of this was a few years ago at my grandfather's funeral, we called him Paw-Paw. While it was a celebration of his life, there was of course a somber undertone in the room. Paw-Paw was at the front while friends and family gathered to show their love, share stories, and pay their respects to my grandmother, we call her Nonnie. For my son however, this was the ideal time to initiate a game of hide-and-seek…without telling anyone. His chosen hiding spot? Under the casket. He couldn't comprehend why that was not acceptable at the time. However, his innocence in that moment generated smiles and lightened the mood, if only for a moment, because we all knew Paw-Paw would be smiling too.

Sometimes it's hard to pull back the layers of my weariness to embrace the innocence and joy in some of these moments. They don't always stop us in our tracks or make us smile. But I'm continuing to challenge myself to allow it to. I think we can all learn something from children in this way. While experience is an excellent teacher, life has callused our mind and stolen our own innocence. We can all use a bit of innocent joy in our life. Embrace it.

Be Present. Be Intentional.

- Chad Vrla

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