So you’re all grown up now.
But do you remember me?
Hi! I’m your eight-year old self. The you that would giggle and run around outside in the neighborhood until dusk. You rode your bike like it was a car and explored the backyard like it was a jungle or a great underwater garden, filled with countless creatures and specimens to study in your laboratory.
You rolled down hills, even if it felt itchy and grass got in your hair. You weren’t so concerned about appearances but about how much fun you were having. In the summer, you barreled down the slip-n-slide, making your best effort to land in the hedge of trees at the bottom of the yard. Back then, mud all over you equaled success.
You wrote your own made up stories, did baking experiments in the kitchen, and let the liquid sweetness of a popsicle drip down your chin. You didn’t care as much as you do now about life being neat and tidy.
Can I keep going? I want to remind you of the way you cuddled kittens and never let them out of your arms and stayed all day in your swimsuit if it was hot outside. Or what about the way your eyes lit up at even the hint of a snow day, a trip to the petting zoo, a family vacation to the beach, or a sleepover with a friend. It’s true, the eight-year old Charissa’s expectations couldn’t be crushed, and in turn, life was more sparkly magic that maddening stings.
Sure, you didn’t know what was ahead, what challenges and responsibilities life would deal to you, but this was (and perhaps still is!) the secret to keeping your joy alive and well.
Although young, you experienced fullness of life because you weren’t constantly over-analyzing your actions and motives. All you knew to be true was the beautiful day in front of you.
Yes, eight-year old you didn’t fully understand the Gospel and love and sacrifice, but you didn’t need to because you offered your heart, which is exactly what matters. The world received the purity of who you were. Giving the gift of your presence was enough for every circumstance. I think you knew some timeless truths then, but nowadays it seems you’ve complicated them with your weird formulas.
Once upon a time you hadn’t yet realized life was broken and friendship wouldn’t be as easy as, “Hey, you wanna go play together?”
Of course, there’s an innocence to being eight that you will never be able to get back. And lest we forget, you also carried irrational fears about change, thunder storms, sleeping in the dark, and being kidnapped that kept you awake at night, but besides all that, I wonder if there are parts of you that died an unnecessary death?
At eight, you were aware of how older people forgot to have fun. It seemed like they carried around a heavy bag packed full of who knows what. Well, guess what, many days that’s you now.
Without even realizing it, you became the grown-up. The heavy packer, the super-serious one. You think the world is out to get you now, that people will attack you, and your frail hope will dismantle in a moment’s notice. These fears do more than keep you up at night though, they hold the power to dictate your every decision and thought when you let them.
You need not become eight years old again. Obviously, you can never return there, nor would you want too. The life you have right now is even more magnificent.
But can I just remind you for a moment what life was like when your load was light-when the only phone you had hung in your hallway and not in your hand, and the only pictures you scrolled through were in the family photo albums?
Can I tell you more stories about the season of life when you still attempted to jump off the couch and fly or bounce on the bed without care of what jiggled or spend hours in the mirror making silly faces instead of inspecting every inch of your body for flaws?
I’m curious…might there be aspects of you in those years that hold mysterious clues into your next step and adventure.
Would you like to come find out? I know it’s been a few years, but wanna play together again?
Eight-Year Old Charissa