At six and a half months of age, Truett is an extraordinarily happy and easy-going baby. He smiles, he laughs, he scrutinizes the various textures with which his fingers come into contact, he studies intently nearby objects and movements with a decided preference for ceiling fans whenever he can catch sight of one. He will concentrate on curiosities for minutes at a time. But make no mistake, he does, indeed, cry. He cries when he is hungry, and he cries when he is overly tired -- this latter, of course, along with an occasional whimper when a diaper change is overdue, is hardly his fault. Credit those tears to his caregivers who have gotten busy with other matters under heaven. So, hunger and fatigue. That's pretty much it, which I find to be an amazingly short list.
When, I've begun to wonder -- and for what reasons -- does that list begin to lengthen? By the time a person reaches my age we are crying about all sorts of things -- skinned knees and hurt feelings, griefs, disappointments regardless of merit, even unspeakable joys. We cry because we don't get our way, we cry because of what was said about us on the playground or by the media. We cry at movies, we cry in church, we cry with relief. But even as I review the list which is intrinsically incomplete, I note that somewhere along the way tears of need -- for food, for rest -- give way to tears of want. I cry because I received what I didn't want -- or conversely, I cry because what I desperately wanted actually came my way?
I don't mean to malign the “wants”. After all, developmental psychologists would dig down into several of them and find them sprouting from core needs like validation and basic security of one form or another. That said, I can't help but wonder if our lists of crying offenses haven't gotten a bit out of control. Could it be that when we call someone a “big baby”, rather than the target of our derision we are slandering instead the babies in our midst who reserve their tears for the core essentials?
Maybe that's what Jesus had in mind when he encouraged us to become like little children, rather than the whining adults we have excessively become.