Confession: After several years of profound deliberation, I have come to believe that the best approach to life is, after all, play.
When I was a mother of two, one a high energy two-year-old with incessant questions, the other a baby requiring nighttime feedings, endless diaper changes, and infinite patience, I came across a song that baffled me.
Based on Psalm 20:7, it sang
Some trust in horses
We trust in the Name of the Lord our God.
Some trust in chariots
We trust in the Name of the Lord our God…
His love never fails, His name will always prevail…
Some trust in the work they do
We trust in the Name of the Lord our God
‘Cause by His grace all the work is through
We trust in the Name of the Lord our God.
Huh? I thought. My eyes were bleary from interrupted nights. My body was stretched and exhausted. My sink was full of dishes. There were toys all over the floor. There was supper to prepare, and three phone calls to make, and a neighbor to invite over for supper—never forgetting the big day of laundry coming up tomorrow. If all the work is through, what in the henry do they think I am filling up my days with??
I didn’t know the answer until several years later.
I want to talk about this carefully, because I know some of you are in a bleary-eyed stage. Some of you are breaking your backs and your hearts on jobs too big for you, praying your way through every day, collapsing into bed at night with water leaking out of your eyes. I’ve been there.
I’m not trying to make light of what is deathly serious. But play has never been for the faint of heart. We’ve all seen kids so absorbed in play they forgot food and family, lost all sense of time and place. We’ve seen them afterwards, so weary they’re nodding and drooping on their feet. We’ve seen the complicated mess that play entails, the three pages of plans necessary to pull off its intricate production strategies, the dramatic mayhem when it goes awry. Every healthy child knows how to play—and knows good and well it’s NOT EASY.
The more we think of our work as play, the better able we are to offer it to Jesus—to toss it up to Him with a smile and a prayer, to throw our hearts into it and then let it go. When it’s work (hard work) (never ending work) (work somebody ought to be helping us with) (and why did He saddle us with it anyway?), we are soon grinding our hearts out earning His favor, feeling all adult and sidelined and melodramatic, presenting our product to Him with bent shoulders and downcast faces. Or else being so deeply serious and intentional about everything (about this Important Work To Which We Are Called) that we forget the other half of our birthright: creativity, silliness, laughter, and joy. It’s amazing how much nonsense you can sandwich between layers of laundry.
We were born to play for Him. The most severe criticism I ever offer to anyone is that she takes herself too seriously.
(I offer it to myself very often.)
By His grace all the work is through means that no matter what we’re engaged in, He’s doing the heavy lifting. If He drops His end, we goin down, sister. He’s the one who changed the world with a shake of His mane and a roar: we call it the Resurrection. We are children: our best work mere child’s play to His, and mere child’s play often our best work to Him.
If you’re stressing over the Big Work you’re supposed to do, feeling Singled Out and Called and Why Me?–laugh at yourself a little, and lay down the burden of singlehandedly changing the world. Only one Man can do that, and He said if you wanted to help Him you had to become like the littles, the kind that run around in diapers and prattle nonsense and smile at strangers. The work He wants from you is the kind you throw your heart into and then let go.
And if you’re caught in the middle of a desperately busy time–a weeping-at-night-panicky-with-exhaustion gauntlet of endless demands, your days stretching like elastic to hold the impossible task lists, your body spent…
Light a candle or brew some iced tea.
Pray for grace to stay on your feet.
Catch hold of that dishcloth or fussy baby, and open your heart to play.
Beautiful words sister. 🙂 I love it! Vote nominations cease:)
Open your heart to play.
I like that.
I needed this today, and agree with you 200%.
Water leaking out of your eyes …. yep, mmhmmm, thats me. Right now, today. Loved your post, Shari!
So very beautiful. If you knew me in real life, you would constantly be telling me not to take myself so seriously. These are wonderful words and you are so gifted in putting them together at the right time and place.
Your plant post is f.u.n.n.y.
I love this! I do not always do so well with the whole work/play thing but I know that my happiest days are the ones when it seemed like I was playing all day but I actually was accomplishing numerous tasks.
A key to turning work into play for me often means inviting my children or husband or friends into my work.
Worthy of reading and re-reading and reading again. I’d love to sit down over some iced tea with you. Thanks for this.
What shall I say? the week has been Big and the water has leaked from my eyes often today. Now I sit with a cup of coffee in a house finally quiet while my family goes off for the next thing.
Maybe in a while I shall get up and play (instead of work).
For this moment, I rest.
Thank you for your words–beautiful, true, life-giving.
I NEEDED this! I think I’ll re-read this often to shift my perspective back to where it should be. All these things that have to be done? Collectively, they look like a monster to me. To Him, they look like a silly kid with a mask on. 🙂 Really, he can make it all get done if it’s really necessary. Why don’t I let him take over?