Chillin’ with Dylan

Dylan’s Story

I’ve got to be like Dylan. Coming from someone my age, born in the 1950s, you would probably conclude I mean Bob Dylan – the singer/songwriter icon and voice of my generation. While I loved his music, in this instance, that is not who or what I mean. No, the Dylan I am referring to is a 3 or 4-year-old boy that I observed one day while I ate dinner at a local restaurant. Dylan was at a table across the way from me, and I know his name only because his mom used it frequently to keep him focused on finishing his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, although, in his mind, it appeared that his primary calling in life was that of alternately annoying and entertaining his mom and 6-year-old sister. As I watched, at first, I was struck by some nostalgia as I peered over my shoulder at the “good ole days” when my kids were young, and my children behaved in a similar fashion.

I also recalled the struggle and stress involved with raising a family and providing for their needs while finishing college and starting a “highly lucrative” teaching career. As much as I enjoyed my children and those early years, I don’t really wish to hit rewind and live them over again – but I did gain some valuable insights at dinner with Dylan that I remember to this day.

As I watched Dylan do his thing, I was struck first by his bouncy, blond curls and his impishly cute face and thought to myself how much his mom must adore him. I know that even at the height of their impishness, my children filled me with secret mirth and joy (although I often had to hide my laughter in order to appear the stern disciplinarian that I thought dads are supposed to be.)

What struck me next was the patient love with which his mom tried to keep him on task – not that she didn’t get somewhat exasperated from time to time as she tried to reel him in, but throughout the meal, even when she was redirecting his energies, there was an overriding sub-conscience agenda of love. Not love out of some parenting book or out of duty, but I just knew that it was a love born out of absolute adoration for this little imp that was hers.

Why do you suppose that she loved this little guy so much? Was it because someone somewhere told her that she had to? Was it that, in order to fulfill an unspoken “Mommy Code,” she needed to add “loving Dylan” to her list of daily responsibilities? Or did she perhaps get an increase in her pay grade by loving or feigning to love him, or better yet, did she love him more when he properly focused on eating his peanut and jelly sandwich, and then love him less when he flipped potato chips into his sister’s hair?

Did she sit and wait for him to step out of line in order to rain down punishment upon his cute little blond curls – because, after all, he deserved it, and it was “good for him” in the long run?

I would submit that none of the above is true, and I don’t know the woman, nor have I ever met the child. But even to a casual observer, her love for her son was apparent. Why? Quite simply because he is hers. Dylan came from her. She conceived him, carried him, birthed him, nurtured him, and now loves him simply and only because he is hers. And it caused me to realize that in some similar fashion, my God loves me because I am His. In spite of my quirks, faults, idiosyncrasies and mistakes, my heavenly Father loves me. Not because of my positive attitude, my unique personality or my good works; He loves me, period.

The second thing I noticed was Dylan’s total lack of concern for anything outside of his sphere of existence on that day. At that time, Dylan’s world consisted of his mom, his big sister, the table at which they were seated (at least most of the time), and his PBJ. He was not concerned about the weather, how much the meal cost, who would pay for it or whether he would eat tomorrow. He didn’t care about the upcoming evening obligations and activities; he wasn’t concerned with his college education or his 401-K. He simply lived in the moment and enjoyed the company of his family with no regard for clothing or shelter or where he would lay his head. He was living in the reality that he was loved. Knowing only that he was loved and caring for nothing else, there was a carefree joy on his smudgy little face and absolute unfettered freedom in his movement. He was not weighed down by the evils of the world around him nor consumed with worry about where his next PBJ would come from. He knew all he had to know. He was with his mom, and she loved him. He had everything he needed: period.

An important note is that Dylan didn’t consciously invoke this environment of trust that enveloped his being; he didn’t manufacture his contentment or security by some act of will. His unshackled existence was an outworking of his experience; his life experience in the presence and care of one who loved him. This mindset of absolute trust was an existence born of the only life experience he had ever known—he only knew that he was loved and that was enough.

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.– Luke 18- NIV

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