Every year our little county has a little fair. Having lived here for several years we had never attended because our children were too little to know what it was and frankly I was trying to avoid it for as long as I could. In my practical minds eye it has always made more sense to-if one is a lover of rides and carnival food- to save up for a more substantial trip to an amusement park like Busch Gardens. This could be however only due to my limited experiences with the fair- I’ve only been to small, local fairs a few times in my life and never to a larger state fair. At any rate, the children had earned enough tickets on their “Accountable Kids” chart to each have a date night with either mom or dad. Luke and Tyler were off to the movies to have “guy time” and Brooke had decided she wanted to try the fair- which she found out about by reading the banner in town 🙂 …. there are downsides to literacy–this being one example and another being the inability to spell words in code to my husband in front of the children anymore 🙂
So, I at least bought the bracelets ahead of time which allowed for a set price to ride the rides as many times as one’s heart desired. Of course there were only about 4 rides that were big enough for anyone over 3″. As we drove to the fair Brooke was practically squirming in her seat. She was so excited about this adventure that she had never been on before. As we parked her eyes lit up and she squealed (really…squealed) at the sight of the Ferris wheel in all of it grandeur. I looked around and although she wouldn’t have been able to know by the smile on my face and eyebrows lifted, thought, “yep, just about what I thought it would be…..” There were little food carts prettily painted with food items that resembled nothing of what you actually received upon ordering-except maybe the cotton candy. There were your as-sundry carnival games, offering the opportunity to win a stuffed animal for five dollars that I could have bought at the dollar store for one. And my adult mind reeled on…. I think after the first ride-it was the “spinny one” that flings you around so that the person you are sitting with squishes you against the side, Brooke the whole time finding a whole new well of belly laughter to be had with each squish of mommy- me making the appropriate I am REALLY being squished by you sounds-that I became aware of God tapping me on the shoulder. This is His gentle way of saying to me “My Sweet Daughter, if you choose to be aware, there is a spiritual lesson in here somewhere- open your EYES!”
So, with that prompting from my Daddy, I did. I started watching my daughter-really studying. I watched her take in each new fair experience. I watched her laugh whole heartedly, scream (in my ear) as loud as she could. I watched her become completly immersed in the show we watched as the performers did “death defying acts” and hoola-hooped, and attempted to get their semi-trained dogs to look cute by doing semi-impressive feats for the audience (remember this was a small town fair 🙂 I became acutely aware of what a complete experience this was for my daughter when we were sitting on the ferris wheel together and at the very top she grabbed my hand and said “mommy, thankyou so much, this is the best night ever.” I could tell that in her little ten year old heart, at that very moment, her words were offered with all sincerity. Those words, her hearts thankfulness, ministered to my heart.
It was at that point that I heard God say that the fair, just like life, is ALL ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE. After we got off of the ferris wheel it was my heart to give Brooke the totality of the fair. Usually the mommy in me tries to find the balance of teaching my children the gift of being thankful for what we are getting and not focusing on what we are not getting. Although we like to do fun things, it seems that there are always opportunities to say no whereever we are and whatever we are doing. For instance, we do not always go to the concession stand when we go to the movies. Stepping off of that ferris wheel however it was almost as if that adult in my head who saw the fair as nothing more than an expensive way to waste money was able to see it more from the eyes of my ten year old daughter. She had asked for nothing up until that point-probably because she was practicing the lesson of being thankful just to be there. Boy was she surprised when I said “Hey, do you want to get your face painted?” With big bright eyes and a smile as big as the moon she answered with a look of this is almost too good to be true. After that I said “Hey, do you want to go ride that pony over there?” “Sure”, she said, almost with a look of “mom is really acting out of character, why is she letting me do ALL of this stuff?” I did have to stifle my desire to roll my eyes when I saw that they were charging $5.00 for a child to ride the pony around a little ring twice….nonetheless Brooke was on the horse and I was opening my wallet. After the pony ride we enjoyed the fair until they were about to close. As we discussed heading home Brooke asked with a slight amount of hesitation, “mommy, I saw some batons over there, do you think I could get one?” I think she was probably torn between a feeling of “mommy is really in a great mood tonight and there really is a chance that I might be able to get one” and mommy has let me do so much tonight and given me so much already that I don’t want her to think I am unthankful by asking for something else.” I said “baby, tonight is all about YOU!” And we went and picked out the purple sparkly baton with the streamer ends. The adult/practical side of my mind was practically screaming “The cats are going to eat this and it will be gone tommorow-what a waste!” But the other side was louder saying “what a perfect way to end a perfect night.”
So, what was the big fat spiritual lesson your thinking? For me, there were several things. I think about how when we first come to know the Lord we are SO ECXITED! As we become more aware of His mercy, grace and unconditional love we can feel overwhelmed and like “this is too good to be true!” Every opporutnity to share Him and how He has transformed our lives is an opportunity that we look forward to and experience with all that is within us. After we have been walking with the Lord for awhile however somehow we start to look at things differently. It is easy to after being hurt or wounded a few times, or been at it awhile, to experience chritianity with a ho-hum attitude. We forget the zeal, lose the unhindered passion and just shuffle along in life doing our “Christianly duties” with half-heartednes. My prayer for you is that you will be walking along and all the sudden your Daddy will tap you on the shoulders and say “Hey sweet daughter, it’s all about the experience!” That your eyes will be opened again to the amazing wonder that is the Gospel-and that you will be renewed with the passion and zeal that you experienced when first accepting your Savior.