My husband Salad Boy and I were both at my youngest son’s pediatric appointment today. We were there for a med check, but we were also there to discuss bringing yet another specialist into the already large group of professional hands tending to his care. While there, we got to fill out a Vanderbilt form and ask about an insurance-imposed change on some asthma management medication. Oh my, what we parents can squeeze into our 15 minutes with the pediatrician!
While there, this lovely man, who has seen us through eight years of all kinds of things, reminded Little Man how he used to refer to himself not by name, but as: “The Pirate Who Saves Good People.”
We pretty much revisit this little memory every time we see this doctor. He continues to tell us each time how much it struck him that a then-three year old would define himself that way.
Today, it struck me afresh as well. I thought about it the entire two-laned, windy, 30-minute ride home.
At eight years of age now, Little Man may have rolled his eyes at that past reference, but inside, I saw a twinkle of something familiar, something beckoning forth a younger time. I saw him remember, and that was a beautiful thing.
I am going to take a minute to bless that. To consider it a dream inside his heart that may take slightly different shape over the years. But I believe it’s a tiny glimpse of how he sees himself.
I remember the fascination with pirates. We had just left residence on Kwajalein Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, when he started to find the world of pirates so interesting. At the time, I didn’t make the direct connection to seaside life. But I think he was hanging onto something by wanting to fill his fantasy world with eye-patched, peg-legged, scruffy-bearded characters. I have to admit that I indulged this. I bought pirate wall border, sheets, and a matching throw rug. I bought every Playmobil and Imaginext pirate toy I could find. He loved the role play, and he really got into character. I’m pretty sure preschool teachers continue to remember this. When asked his name in the grocery store, he would reply with his name and, without skipping a beat, quickly add that he was The Pirate Who Saves Good People.
Now I know he was holding onto a little piece of the island that he mourned, because looking back, that was one of his depressive episodes. He used to come home from preschool right after our move to the States and lay his head on my lap and weep. I thought he was just adjusting, but five months went by like that. Five months watching a curly redhead sob for his old home.
So, if pirates were a world he could get lost in, I was all for it. When we’re three years old and we grieve, Mommas indulge a little imagination to soothe the loss.
But getting back to his title…what a great identity to take on! It was an early indication of his thoughts about himself, and I want to go back to that place for a minute—because in that place is an innocent heart who wants to protect good people, who sees himself as a warrior, who feels like he has something to offer, who has a role he wants to play.
And I won’t be at all surprised one day if whatever he ends up doing in life goes back to that early theme of protection, empathy, justice, safety, and rescue.
My point is this:
Where can we go back to that simple childhood role-play and see what surfaced early on that matches the dream God has put into our hearts?
Where can we bless it?
What about our kids?
Or people we know who seem a bit lost at the moment?
How can we look for traces of where a holy God was whispering dreams into our hearts before we even knew how to recognize it?
I think we get a little tossed about in life, a little seasick now and again. We get jumbled on the ride from there to here and here to there, and we forget how simple those early moments were when innocence was all we had, and we were free to hear what God was telling us about ourselves.
I want to listen more again. I want to climb up onto the lap of Jesus. I want to remember those early dreams and redirect my sails.
In some ways, I think He wants us all to be Pirates Who Save Good People, although that may look differently according to how it’s lived out.
Ephesians 2:10, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
But He will honor us coming to Him as purely and trusting as a child because He promises this.
Matthew 18:1-6, Apostle Matthew narrating, ESV
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Mark 9:36-37, Apostle John-Mark narrating, ESV
And he [Jesus] took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them,“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
Matthew 19:13-15, Apostle Matthew narrating, ESV
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.
A great book for trying to identify the dream God has given us is The Dream Giver: Following Your God-Given Destiny by Bruce Wilkinson. A sweet friend gave this to me as I was rounding out the edges of finally becoming an author. It’s an easy read and sweet story to help us go back to the place where He first put the dream into our hearts.