As a friend shared this quote with me several weeks ago, my interest was piqued. The scale of my soul has always tipped toward a driven responsibility rather than play. In my adult life, that is. I have ached deeply in my homeschooling years for the scales to balance more... Or even tip toward play. So much that I have worn a charm around my neck the past 7 years imprinted with the word "play." Two others keep it company. "Soul" and "faith." Beside them "play" appears so shallow. At times, self-consciousness creeps in when I think what others might think about the "play" around my neck. If only they knew the battle which rages within me on a daily basis to let it all go. And play. Connect with the ones I love. One son sees me battle. He deemed himself my "play teacher" years ago. Amidst my resistance to stop working, he presses in. Wooes me toward the frisbee, the tetherball, a tv show. Anything to have fun and connect with me. He invites me into relationality, into play, into love.
Mystery converged and my soul sighed when she shared the relationship between play and love. The connection had never been so clear. I've believed there's a bigger story to my ache for release from the extreme. The enemy seeks to destroy healthy play. Because play is connected to love. And love is the essence of everything. He's at the center.
Trauma assaults our ability to play. A friend had an epiphany. She was playing dolls when her mom died of a stroke. She was a little girl, home alone with her beloved mother. The weight too great. It was on her to save her mom when her age was still a single digit. If she hadn't been playing... Her small mind wondered if her story would be different? And all these years later, she sees that was the day she stopped playing nurse with her dolls. Her favorite past-time buried with her beloved. And she began to work hard. Replaced play with work.
I'm grateful I lived no such trauma. But It didn't take that severity of trauma to tip my scales away from play. Somewhere throughout my traumas, I chose to work harder. Make myself less disposable to others. Produce. Keep order. Not from a space of knowing who I am. But to prove who I am, I suppose. To control my environment so chaos would be extinguished. Chaos brings me discomfort.
Isn't creativity birthed in chaos?
25 years ago, love captured me. "My grace is sufficient for you!" He exclaimed. And whispers it every day deep into my soul. And will do so until I see Him face to face and really believe Him. If I really believed in this grace, this covering, I might play more easily. I think it would recalibrate my scales. Bringing balance. Ushering in rest. And the freedom to play. To be content with a little less productivity.
Trauma came for a visit six months ago. It converged on me by ones I'd never imagined would betray me. Built a case against me. Without the courage to let me know. To move toward me. Then, as a group, they lowered the gauntlet on my just recovering soul. And darkness moved in, seeking to destroy further, even after so much relational destruction.
In the grieving, I have only had energy to grieve and keep the family running. My normally productive self has not been so productive. A few months ago, Dennis introduced me to "Arrow." A tv program full of everything addictive. Beautiful people, action, cliff-hangers.
I don't value watching the tube for hours on end.
One show in a season is plenty of time invested in mindless detaching from reality for me. I'm fine if others weight it differently. Everyone else in my family does.
But in the wake of grief, I've found myself wandering around our home, aimlessly. Not knowing what to do. Having no energy or inertia to do anything if something were to come to mind. My "play coach," eighth-grade son, Cole, has taken full advantage of my fragile state.
"Mom, come watch Arrow! That's what you should do." This has been his invitation every day of the fall.
He loves popping the corn, loading it up with butter, and crawling beside me into the world of Arrow. This is the beauty of homeschooling. Work hard and play hard. And there's a lot more time to play some years.
I never would have conceded to this invitation in the past. Not on an almost daily basis. But just as trauma tipped the scales away from play as a child, it seems to be pulling them back toward equilibrium as an adult.
Two nights ago, as I watched the final three episodes of Arrow Season 2, guilt plagued me. Growing like a festering wound.
"You're being irresponsible."
"You're relationally unavailable."
"You should be helping with the bedtime routine."
"That was 2 1/2 hours of the tube in one night."
I offered my tortured insides to a few friends. They told me this is good. Just what I need. I need to restore and veg-out. Friends who keep speaking grace into our lives are priceless.
Then I shared of my life-sucking guilt with Dennis.
"I've never thought one of those thoughts about you," he said.
"I think it's wonderful you're so into Arrow. We can be with you in it. It makes Cole so happy to watch it with you. It's harder for us to connect with you when you're constantly working."
Something in me was released to play a little more freely. It's connecting me to the ones I love. Making me more permeable to them. And I'm hoping more permeable to Him, who is love.