Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Struggle to Play

We parents can fail and will fail at almost everything we do. Our most serious failure, however, is not that we fall short of fulfilling certain expectations. Our most serious failure is something that seldom crosses our mind: the refusal to play.

Play is ridiculously inefficient. It splurges and spends, often without any apparent return on investment. That's why we must remind ourselves of the blessing of the process and not look for any measurable outcome of the effort.

To live against the grain of our culture, as we must, the serious parent will spend the majority of his or her time in play - whether we're on the job, running errands, doing household repairs, or playing catch in the backyard. The mature person will see all of life, work, worship, and parenting as a form of play.

These are excerpts from a book I read this summer called How Children Raise Parents by Dan Allender. I just reread the chapter called The Freedom to Play because I've been feeling the familiar struggle lately of not wanting to play with my kids.

My struggle with playing with my kids is connected to my struggle with being a "stay at home mom" which is connected to my faulty belief that "I am what I do." I came across two excellent questions recently (through my church's women's bible fellowship) that are challenging me:

Am I really worth anything if I'm not out there constantly proving myself?

Who am I when I'm not busy doing things that tell the world who I am?

Aren't these telling questions? They pretty much nail me and my identiy issues. I loved the affirmation and sense of value I received from my job. I currently love the affirmation and sense of value I receive through my involvement at church, in MOPS, and even through this blog. It's much harder for me to feel a sense of value and affirmation during a day where I simply feed, clean up after, read to, and perhaps play with my kids. Like the second quote says, I think it's because some of these things are ridiculously inefficient (others are perpetual and monotonous) with little measurable outcome or apparent return on investment (in the near future anyway).

I'm clearly a child of our "self-absorbed, age of work, busyness, and productivity" (Allender). How I long to be free of this warped view of life! I want to want to play with my kids more often. I want to feel greater enjoyment as I play with them. I want to spend more time marveling at the wisdom, purity, and wonder of my children.

I love the brief story in Matthew 19 where the disciples think Jesus is too busy and important to be bothered with children, but Jesus intervenes and says, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! God's kingdom is made up of people like these."

I long to be more like Jesus!

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