I grew up in the presence of an adult habit that seems to have been lost with the passage of time, thank-goodness! When I was a child, adults used to talk about kids in the third person while they were standing in their presence. The final punctuation of the conversation would be the condescending pat on the head with a gentle pinch of the child's cheek. I have no idea what was behind the gesture. The conversations were usually full of flowery praise that primarily served to embarrass even those starved for attention and recognition. Why anyone needed to pat the individual in question head is beyond me. Yet, it was the very idea of a possible attempt to pinch my cheek that caused me to flee long before there was even a remote chance of it occurring.
In the turmoil of growing up in this strange environment, I actually missed something obvious. When adults have not seen children of friends for a time, they often wonder what they have become. Usually his or her memories are frozen in time with a picture that lingers from a moment long forgotten by everyone except the individual in reflection. Paste in any person's name and the reaction is the same. “They couldn't take their eyes off them-Peter and John standing there so confident, so sure of themselves! Their fascination deepened when they realized these two were laymen with no training in Scripture or formal education.” (Acts 4.13)
To adults and kids alike, I would like to suggest the following. Everyone changes in time. Being open to the possibilities is one of the gifts we can share with each other. Second, never be afraid of what you have become. Seeing yourself for what you have become, especially with the Spirit's help, strengthens the bond between you and God. Third, take courage in where you want to go and get on with the journey! Accomplishing something is never the end – life is always about growth and being more than yesterday.
Progress is wonderful. Pinches though are not required.
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