I kinda stink at playing with my kids.
There...I said it.
I wish I naturally enjoyed playing dolls and spontaneously turning PB&J sandwich crusts into semi-automatic rifles, but it's a challenge. My husband can play Barbies with the best of them, but I'm much more of the puzzle, read-aloud book, and "y'all go play outside" type.
This summer, our family lived overseas and we had to become really good at communicating with people who didn't speak our language. My son and daughter learned to navigate this by smiling extra big at kids on the playground and offering to kick a ball back and forth. It was pretty amazing to see true friendship form between children who couldn't even pronounce each others’ names...all thanks to a smile and a soccer ball.
This connection spoke volumes to me about playing with my kids. Sometimes it seems we just don't speak the same language. I want more than anything to nurture their hearts. Right now, the name of their soul's language game is play. And truthfully, isn't it the language of us all? Don't we all crave that break from reality and routine? Don't we all long to laugh with the people we love? Isn't it calming to color side-by-side or paint a tiny human's fingernails just because? Hit the whiffle ball clear down the backyard and go whooping and hollering through the grass? And doesn't our Heavenly Father lean close to care about our unique interests? Didn't He create those desires in us? Isn't this how our hearts most naturally connect with Him?
God created the world to be productive. He created us in His image, calling us to work heartily as unto Him, and to be fruitful and multiply. Worshipful work stands at the center of our purpose for living. But, God also created play. Look at the wildflowers that dance in the rain. Examine your sweetest memories in life. Observe your precious children who reflect His image in their spare time, without even trying. Our playfulness reflects the creative intentions of our playfully endearing God.
Maybe you're an imaginative-play rockstar or maybe you're like me and you struggle to prioritize play. Either way, I'd love for you to join me in setting a timer for ten minutes, getting down on the floor with each of our children and asking them, "Hey, can I play with you?" I'll bet your kids, like mine, will be delighted to see us speaking their language.
What do you think about play? Do you consider play as part of God’s original design for creation? What are your favorite playful activities? What ways do you enjoy playing with your children? What about as a family at large?
"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood." -Mr. Rogers
We are to work. We are to rest. We are also to play, relishing the beauty, freedom and delight of life. So play on, players.
Kitty Hurdle is the mother of two preciously playful children. Besides Hot Wheels, (which are legitimately SO fun) "Beauty Shop" is her favorite way to play. You know, the one where mom lies face down and lets one child brush her hair while the other one massages her back? She'd love to hear your thoughts on our playful God and how to better love His playful people. Connect with her on Instagram @kitty_hurdle or over at her blog, www.joelandkitty.com