This fall, when reading the book Overwhelmed, the author Bridget Schulte talks about adding play back in to your life. She interviews people from Mice at Play, an organization whose goal is to help grown women learn to play again. With playdates like a 1940’s dress up photoshoot, a beach volleyball party, and even trying out the trapeze, Mice at Play wants to instill play back into the lives of overly stressed-out women.
I think play is hard. As a 30+ year old working-from-home mom with a preschooler full of abundant energy, it can feel like the daily energy to keep up with a fast-moving day is about all I can muster. To think about doing something more, even if it is for fun, just exhausts me.
And, if I do take time for myself, it is usually “productive” play time - reading lots of books, running, getting coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in a while…all good things, but typically purposeful-play.
But I think this idea of play is so much more…and even something encouraged from God. I think it starts with allowing the reality of the gospel to actually intersect with my everyday.
So much of every day life can feel like mundane - the laundry, the to-do lists, the cooking of food, the disciplining a preschooler. But God calls us to joy, to rejoicing, to an attitude of thankfulness, to hearts overflowing.
If we can see these mundane things as joy, would it free us up to play?
In Hands Free Mama, the author Rachel Macy Stafford tells a story about how she was about to have guests over for dinner. Twenty minutes before the guests were to arrive, she hops on bikes with her kids and pedals around the neighborhood. Instead of finishing the last details for dinner, Stafford chooses to let the stress go, and instead see the joy in the moment…choosing rejoicing instead of fretting, choosing an overflowing heart instead of perfection.
Can we do this in our own lives? If I could see everything in my life, even the average and the mundane, as abundant gifts from God, an overflowing of grace in providing even the smallest of pleasures in my day-to-day, my perspective could change. I could let go of what seems so overbearing…the cooking, cleaning, working…and rejoice in the day I have, allowing myself freedom to play.
I can then see play as a way to reflect that I am embracing this day given by the Lord, seeing this hour as nothing but blessing. I can be free to play outside of the "guidelines of productivity" because I can find joy in the fact that I have nothing more to accomplish - all has been accomplished for me already. I can play with abandon because the Lord has been gracious to me in ways that mean I don’t have to check off my to-do list to find my worth.
If the gospel is able to infiltrate the reality of my mundane days, I have freedom to let go…and just play.
Today, I could go down the slide with my child at the playground because my worth comes from God, not how put together I need to look. I could sit on the deck tonight with my husband and try to count the stars, because my efficiency in cleaning the house is not what defines who I am. I could choose play today because I believe that all is grace, all is finished, all is through Christ.
Do you find time for regular play? What do you find hard about letting yourself play?