I was in a hurry. My mind was set on one goal. Get into the store and get out! We needed paper plates and some white table cloths for an upcoming event, and that was it. I had NO time to dilly dally and look through the aisles of “junk” in our local dollar store.
But my young daughter had other plans. You see, when we walked into that discount store, she didn’t see cheap trinkets. Instead, she saw aisle upon aisle of treasure. Everything was new and exciting. Breathtaking even.
As she excitedly flitted from one chintzy item to the next, her eyes were wide with wonder. Every once in a while, she would let out a little gasp of glee at her newest discovery.
“Look at this mom!” she exclaimed in amazement for the 5th time in a row.
She saw a valuable prize. I looked down, and saw a toy that would break the moment we walked out of the store.
Impatience was starting to well up inside of me.
“I don’t have time for this.” I thought to myself. “We need to get our stuff and go!”
Just as I resolved to redirect my little explorer to the far back corner of the store – where MY items were located – I was suddenly distracted by a man who had recently walked through the front door.
He was quite a sight, and reminded me a little of a cross between Kremer from the old hit TV show Seinfeld, and a guy you may see begging for money on a street corner.
His gray hair was wild and unkept. His clothes didn’t really match and didn’t seem appropriate for the elements outside. I couldn’t help but notice, his long black socks and well-worn sandals.
I was definitely gawking a little. But he wasn’t looking at me. His eyes were focused on my joy-infused, darling of a daughter who was still bouncing from one item to the next and still gasping with delight at each precious new find.
As he watched her, his eyes lit up like a candle, and a giant smile spread across his face.
He ended up passing us in the store, and that’s when he said something to me that changed my entire attitude.
“Aren’t they fun at this age? They are sooo filled with wonder and life!”
That was it. Nothing terribly profound. Yet, as he breezed past me to do his own shopping, I was suddenly convicted to my very core.
It took an unlikely stranger to point out to me, that I was missing something incredibly profound. I was missing a beautiful, life-giving, moment with my young daughter. She WAS filled with exuberance and awe. Her countenance was pure cheer.
She was having the time of her life! Why wasn’t I?
His comment left me pondering, “When did I stop experiencing wonder?”
How many opportunities had I missed, because I was too busy or preoccupied to notice the marvels that might have been on display right in front of me?
I glanced down and watched my little girl’s mouth curve into yet another grin, and I saw her big brown eyes sparkle with delight, and I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with gratitude and joy myself. Her enthusiasm was contagious.
Suddenly, getting in and out of the store didn’t matter so much. I realized that taking a few extra moments to allow my daughter to explore was FAR more important than quickly completing a task on my to-do list.
Fifteen minutes later we emerged from the Dollar Tree with my paper plates and tablecloths. My daughter had also found some trinkets to treasure. And I found a new perspective.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go through life missing the wonder that is all around me!
However, this experience confirmed how easy it is to do just that.
There truly is so much beauty and joy and awe that can be found in the everyday moments of life: a gorgeous sunset, freshly fallen snow, an act of unsolicited kindness, a Holy Spirit whisper, a child’s uninhibited laughter, just to name a few.
But we often miss the magic of the moment simply because we don’t look for it!
Experiencing the gift of wonder requires some intentionality on our part. I’m learning that I need to slow down and make room in my busy, often chaotic, task-driven life to not only look for, but also embrace and thank God for these special moments around me.
I still have a long way to go. Old habits seem to die hard. but I’m working on being more proactive in this area of my life. I’m happy to report that it’s totally worth the effort!
How about you? How could you embrace the gift of wonder in your life today?