The older I get, the more I find play to be important. As children we are taught it and as adults we’re told to constrain it: “You’re an adult now, act like it.” And so you act like it, doing your best to hide the parts of yourself that might be tagged as unprofessional or too much.
You fight the want to run barefoot in the dirt or the desire to hide in trees like you did as a child. You fight the urges to count how long you can hold your breath because you’ve been holding your breath for years now and the minute you breath, you’ll be found out.
Because the truth is, you’re still just a kid.
Watching the clock.
Listening for the bell to ring.
Waiting for someone to tell you, “You can touch the bottom now.” and “It’s time to go.” and “You passed the next level.”
But kids who are told they can’t play, lose a huge part themselves. And when they can’t fully be themselves, delight turns into something very different.
Not too long ago, I found myself in a place where I could no longer play. I was being molded to be a part of something I knew was not my calling. But I tried so hard to fit it. To fight the wrongness feeling of it. To fight the pain it seemed to have on my childlike pieces because I’m an adult, and that’s what adults are supposed to do.
But the kid in me couldn’t pretend and so, despite how painful it was, I opted to walk away. I opted to seek the Lord in new direction and to learn how to play again because I had somehow lost that part of myself.
And everyone had an opinion. Some understood and invited me to sit with them while others decided I wasn’t adult enough to sit at the same table as them anymore. And that’s hard because like me, they’re just kids trying to fit into the adult world too. So instead of being mad, I mourned. I stopped writing and asked – no, begged – begged God to heal the parts in me that had become hard and scared and dull.
It’s been almost a year since then and this morning I was able to play outside. I walked barefoot in the dirt to remind myself of where I come from and breathed out for what seems like the first time in a long time. I laughed and I cried and Jesus met me there.
Play is SO important and it’s a big part of who we are. Without play, we lose wonder and without wonder we lose sight of what actual matters: The One who created us to show the world who He is with who He created us to be.
How can we do that if we’re pretending who we are? How can we do that if we shut out the world He made to take delight in? How can we do that if we’ve decided to stop being children because the world tells us we need to grow up? Taking delight in the simple and silly things isn’t wrong, it’s wonder, and we’re called to that.
So go outside and play.
Run. Climb. Laugh. Cry. Scream. Do what you need to do to find yourself in Him again and take delight.
You are your Father’s child, it’s okay to act like it.