I’ve been playing more lately.
Monday, I needed a break, so I pedaled downtown on my bicycle and treated myself to lunch. I rode back with raindrops falling on my head.
Another day, I colored while eating leftovers in the dining room.
Last week, I took an hour or so out of my day, hopped on my bicycle, and rode to the park. When I got there, the park was empty. Mine alone. I smiled.
At first, I saw only teeny tiny slides and a little climbing castle. Playgrounds are made for children, after all. But then I saw what I came for and rode to the far side where the swings hung motionless.
Jumping off my bike, I tiptoed toward the saddle seat hovering over the smallest mud puddle. I climbed up gingerly, careful not to get dirty, and then with a bend and a kick I was off, pumping my legs harder and faster. As the swing climbed higher, I began to hear the familiar singsong of the chains in their hooks. I looked up at the canopy of leaves. I looked down at the ground so far, so near, so far, so near. My pulse quickened. I breathed deeply.
Then, I saw a car pull in. Someone else was coming to the park. I stopped pumping. When the swing slowed enough, I jumped off. What would they think of a middle-aged woman swinging alone in the middle of the day?
I climbed back on my bicycle and rode quickly out of the park through the grass, avoiding the parking lot and the main entrance and stares of the just-arrived carload. As I pedaled up the hill toward home, I saw a car in my rearview mirror and nearly wrecked my bike trying to get off the street and onto the sidewalk before they whizzed by. I remembered how my husband and I teased that everyone probably thought I had a drinking problem, relegated to a bicycle because of a suspended license or some other crime of addiction. At least that’s what we thought of the scruffy old men who pedal themselves around town. What respectable adult prefers biking to motoring for errands?
And just like that, the playtime was over. I was back at home at my desk. The work continued.
Play doesn’t come easily for me. Although I like to break free and laugh loud and do things for no reason at all as much as the next person, in my grown-up life of marriage and parenting and homemaking and freelance writing, life doesn’t just hand over opportunities to cut loose. And other people don’t always look kindly on those who take time to play. That’s my impression at least. People who play seem childish.
But people who play also become child-like. Just as life gets too grownup and serious sometimes, so does my faith. And Jesus said, “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
This desire to come to Jesus as a child is what led Laura Boggess to set aside time each week for the past three years to play. She takes walks and visits museums. She tries new things, and she rests more. And as she goes, she goes with God.
It started on her neighbors’ trampoline, when she snuck over for a bit of the exhilaration she saw in the children’s faces as they jumped earlier that day. After she had bounced alone for a few minutes, she found herself saying to Jesus: we need to play more.
And when the laughter hushed and there was just me and God, all tangled up under that blue sky, I made a promise. I promised God that I would not forget the sweetness of that moment. I made a commitment to seek out moments like this with him. Once a week I would leave my grown-up notions behind, and I would find a place where joy and wonder would lead. A playdate with God.
I’ve been reading Laura’s book, Playdates with God, the past week or so. As I’ve turned the pages, I’ve been yearning for of the joy and wonder that come with play. It’s why I’ve been coloring and swinging and riding my bicycle more. But it’s also why I’ve been letting myself cry more when I feel like it, and throwing myself on Jesus when I don’t know where else to go. It’s why I said out loud this week, “It’s not fair” and felt a little better after the words escaped my lips. Because being child-like isn’t just about wonder. It’s also about trust.
Most of all, leaning in to God in my highs and lows is about love—that’s really the heart of Laura’s book.
“God knows me. And he wants me to know him,” Laura writes. “I can never know or understand God fully, but I’m prepared to keep trying for the whole of my life.”
At work, at rest, in grief and exhilaration, when I am producing, or when I am playing, may I come wide-eyed, tenderhearted, and fully His.
WORD COUNT: 850
AUTHOR: Laura Boggess
TITLE: Playdates with God: Having a Childlike Faith in a Grown-up World
WHERE TO GET IT: Follow the link above to order it from Amazon, or to help celebrate Laura’s book launch, I will buy a copy of her book to give away in the next few days. Everyone who leaves a comment on this post or signs up to receive my blog in their email inbox through noon on Monday, October 27, will be registered to win. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 28, and I will contact the winner privately for shipping information.
*This website uses “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Also, I received a complimentary preview copy of Laura’s book, but any endorsements, reviews, or comments about the book are my own opinion and were not influenced by the author. The give-away copy will be purchased by me.