Faith Reflections

How My Niece Schooled Me on the Playground

Recently, I was at a local park with my family for my nephew’s cub scout picnic. During some down time, I took my five-year-old niece down the hill to the playground to burn off some energy and enjoy the gorgeous spring day.
She went straight for the swings. After hopping up in the seat and grabbing hold of the chains, she gave me the “push me, Aunt Moe” look followed by verbal confirmation.

Morgan soaring on the swings. I clearly excel at pushing.
Morgan soaring on the swings. I clearly excel at pushing.

So I pushed her, she started pumping her legs and everyone was happy.
Except for a little girl sitting on the swing next to my niece. She was around 4 or 5 years of age and was at a “sit still”. She called out to her daddy who was nearby reading a book. “Push me, daddy. Push me.”  But he didn’t look up from his book.  She said this a few times with no acknowledgment from her dad.
Then, Morgan looked at me as she swung past me and commanded ….


In her mind, it was so simple. There was a little girl who needed a push and I knew how to push. So – push her. You could almost hear Morgan utter “DUH” as she swung back by me. Stop standing there when you know what to do.
It struck me that perhaps this is what God utters a lot to me.
Near me is someone who is at a stand still. They need a push – a nudge, an ear, a hand, a chance, a break, an advocate.
God looks at me and commands ….


In God’s mind, it is so simple. There is someone who has a need and I am able to meet that need. So – do it. I can almost hear God utter “duh” as I “pray” about whether I should act. Stop standing there when you know what to do.
I could not and did not push every child that was at that playground that night and wanted to swing.
But I did help one little girl who was near me when my niece’s voice broke through to make me aware of this one who had a need that I could do something about.
As kids do, the girls continued to swing for about three minutes and then Morgan slowed herself down and got off the swing. Her new friend did the same and as she ran past me following my niece I heard her call out to Morgan, “Can we play together?”
Morgan had advocated for her. Morgan had moved someone to help her. And that made this little girl trust her and want to call her friend.
Perhaps the same will happen when we listen to God to help someone. Perhaps we can help them connect the dots that it is God who advocates for them. God has moved us to help them. And just maybe they will want to call God friend as well because of it.
Or maybe, at the very least, I simply gave someone a push that got us both moving out of a stand still.


  • Sue Mescher Buchanan

    And the dad? Did he recognize that the second-best person had done the job that he should have done, or did he continue to be absorbed in his own life? Am I ever like the dad instead of Aunt Moe?

    • Melissa Hatfield

      He eventually interacted with her some. You may a great point, Sue. We often are like the dad in this story! Great observation and great reminder to stay attentive! Thanks for commenting.