When I was a kid, my sisters and I were often home alone during the day in the summer, as both our parents worked. We did fairly well entertaining ourselves, and sometimes we got rather creative about it.
One day we decided to make a documentary film about our parents. As the oldest, I, of course, was the director and producer; my sisters were assigned the acting roles of Mom and Dad. Once we’d dug through our parents’ closets and dressers to find the right “costumes,” we began setting the scene for Act I.
It started in our parents’ bedroom—blinds closed, lights out, “Mom” and “Dad” in bed. Aaand Action! “Dad” begins to snore loudly. “Mom” covers her head with one of her several pillows. “Dad” snores louder. “Mom” grabs the pillow off her head and whacks “Dad” with it. When we showed this film to our parents later, they almost fell off the couch laughing. They admitted our depiction was very accurate.
The scenes progressed through a day in the life of our parents—cooking, going to work, coming home, cleaning, watching TV, and going to bed again. Though it was all done through the eyes of children, we got a lot of it right—from behavior to props to costumes. We clearly knew our parents very well.
Recently I was working extra-long hours toward a big deadline and didn’t have time to go home for dinner. Around 7:00 p.m. my office door opened, and my daughter walked in carrying a lunch bag. “I brought you dinner,” she said, hugging me. I thanked her as she left, then gratefully opened the bag.
Inside wasn’t just a delicious pasta dinner; there was also a lunch box note—one of the cards I occasionally put in my children’s lunches to show them a little extra bit of love. She’d taken a page out of my book to make me smile.
The more time we spend around someone else, the better we know them, and the more likely we are to look and sound like them—for good or otherwise. My kids demonstrate this to me regularly, when they come home from school with new catchphrases and buzzwords (my 7-year-old says “bruh” about every 30 seconds), or when they suddenly take up an interest in a new hobby (my 10-year-old has done a lot of muddy bike rides in the forest with her bestie this spring). Inevitably, they will also begin to resemble their friends—the people they spend much of their time with.
The same is true of God. The more time we spend with Him, the better we’ll know Him, and the better we’ll be at reflecting who He is. And that is truly the best kind of imitation to strive for. “Therefore be imitators of God, . . . and live in love” (Eph. 5:1, 2, NRSV).