a lesson in life from Zach & Valentine

In acting class our teacher repeatedly states that we are not trying to learn anything. In fact, we are trying to unlearn all the things our parents, teachers, and society have taught us over the years – to “behave,” to repress negative emotions or outbursts, to be a “good little boy/girl.”

If you have spent any time with children, you will quickly see that they are so open and free with their emotions. One second they are laughing, the next they are crying. They don’t hold back on their opinions. They certainly don’t hold back expressing their desires.

But one my favorite thing about children is how freely they love. They love quickly, they love sweetly, they love well. I got to see a firsthand account of this unabashed love when my 4-year-old nephew, Zach, and his “girlfriend,” Valentine, came to stay with me in LA recently. (with their moms, of course!

Zach and Valentine met in play group when they were 6-months-old. They have been to the lake together…

They have been superheroes together…

And now they have been to California together. During their trip my boyfriend met Zach for the first time. He said something that really stood out to me. He said Zach was truly special, not only because he is very smart for his age, but because at barely four years of age…

he already knows what love is

I had never really thought about that. But it is so true.

Zach constantly tells Valentine how pretty she is, compliments her outfits, plays with her, holds her hand, hugs her, and will even just rest his sweet little hand on her arm when they are sitting side-by-side in their carseats. And over frozen yogurt after dinner one night, he leaned over and told me Valentine is his best friend…

… whom he likes to kiss at 6:00am over cartoons and milk. I die.

In all seriousness though, we really can learn so much from kids. One of my favorite verses is 1 Timothy 4:12:

“Do not let others look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in life, in love, in speech, in faith, and in purity.”

Life is hard. It is beautiful and wonderful and a true gift. But it is hard.

With each passing year of our lives, we see more hurt and more pain. We put walls up to protect ourselves. We are conditioned to trust less and doubt more.

But I think kids have it right. I think theirs is the best way. What if we could act more like children? Express ourselves like they do. Love like they do. Have faith like they do.

Jesus stressed the importance of having a childlike faith. He went so far as to say,

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3-4

We can learn so much about life from kids. They have undoubting faith. They have unabashed love. And they are hard-pressed to find any situation in life that can’t be turned into fun… including a rooftop sectional into a fort.

Take it from Zach and Valentine. Life is better with faith and love like a child.

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