I just watched a movie. Not spiritual. Not uplifting. But it had one line that made me think. It was so true. Life is so short. It’s so short. Things happen to people we love. You turn around and you’re 31…almost 32, but not before my buddy, Jennifer Novotny. LOL. Sorry, Jenn, had to do that. But anyway, when did I become 31?? Really? James 4:14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. It’s true. I have childhood memories and I remember wanting to grow up and thinking my 20’s would never end. I remember all those things, but what I’ve forgotten is more important. I’ve forgotten how to play?
As a kid, it’s what you do. Then day by day we are taught responsibility, which is important. We are taught to grow up. We are taught to work. Which again is so important. You have to be responsible. You have to grow up. You have to work. Life is work. But I think in all that, we’ve forgotten the importance of play. Play is the work of childhood. Play is the lifeblood of adulthood.
So when Emme was first born and I would sit down to play with her, I thought what do I do? I’d forgotten. How? How does it happen? When does playing begin to stop? When does it lose its importance? I don’t know when it begins to happen, but my plan is to teach my child things. I will teach her that playing should always exist. You should always play. You should always be silly. You should always create things and do things outside the box. You should always put yourself out there, no matter how silly you think it is. It’s time. It’s time we lose our vulnerabilities. It’s time to give up our inhibitions. It’s time to enjoy life as adults. It’s time to play. Yes, to work hard each day, but to play. Why? Because my daughter won’t wait. She won’t stay little forever. She won’t always be able to curl up on my lap and read a book. She won’t always want to paint on the bathtub wall in her diaper. She won’t always want to squish her food through her fingers. She won’t always like being messy.
But I have a plan. I have a plan. I have a plan to be her mom. The mom that teaches her to be responsible, to help her grow up, to teach her the importance of working hard, but to teach her to play. To keep her youthful spirit always. To be silly. To laugh even when you feel like crying. To stop being an in-a-minute mom as my friend Lena Dornetto says. To learn to play with her. To embrace her youthfulness. To paint my tub and my walls and my pants and my face with shaving cream paint and to get lost in it with her.
And yet, again, I ask, when did we forget how to play? When do we start to lose that desire? Psalms 90:12 tells us: Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. You know what the heart of wisdom is, it’s the love of the Lord. I believe that God is a creative, playful God. He made things work perfectly. But he made them creatively. He spoke them, and they work beautifully. But there are funny things, and I believe that He has an incredible sense of humor. Seriously, why would people burp or have gas of any kind? (Can you tell I grew up with boys?) Why do dogs shake their legs when you pet them behind their ears? Why do elderly people lose their filters and say just exactly what they think, no matter who’s around? Why would you kid going to the bathroom in your hand as a baby ruining your shirt, bring about tears of laughter? Why? He made us laugh. He made us smile. He made things beautifully, but I believe He creatively played as He made them. And he made things humorous because He is a loving Father. And if we as loving earthly parents, play with our children, would He be any different? Could we consider ourselves better than Him? Who made us this way? Absolutely not. He is greater than us in every way, but He chose to live in us. And in choosing to live in us, He gave us His playful, creative spirit. Jesus played with the children on earth. He rebuked adults who tried to stop them from coming. Jesus was the truest picture of God that ever existed in life. God loves us. God plays. He is the best player. He pictured us and then spoke us into existence. Coolest thing ever.
So what is the heart of wisdom? Learning to believe that God loves you and meets you where you are, and then doing the same with the people in your life. And I know God wants us to be responsible and hardworking, but I believe playfulness and creativity are never far from His heart. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be in the heart of child that just came from Him.
So what’s my lesson? Learn to play with your kids. Learn to forget about the laundry, the dishes, and sometimes even dinner, and learn to play with your kids. Because your children are your most important work…not your house. And what’s the work of childhood? It’s play. And if we don’t forget it, it can be the lifeblood, the joy, the essence of adulthood and family.