From the Pastor’s Pen: Take Time to Play

I take myself too seriously sometimes.

Very little good tends to come out of the times I take myself too seriously, the times I stress about so many things I can’t change, the times I try so hard to keep things in order.

If you peek in at my desk, you’ll find just how successful I am at keeping things in order.

Sometimes I just need to let go. Sometimes I need to be reminded how important it is to just enjoy things.

Some of you have phones that have app(lication)s on them, and some of those apps are games. Maybe you play them to unwind. Maybe you play them to pass time. Maybe you play them because you have a friend who has encouraged you to play with them.

I have two games on my phone. I recently installed Words with Friends because Karoline encouraged me to. I don’t particularly enjoy it. I also have Sudoku, which I play to calm my mind. Some of you will understand how that works, and some of you find games like Sudoku, which is a number puzzle, endlessly frustrating.

Those are the only games on my phone.

But there are other apps on my phone that have features that are gamified. Waze, my navigation app, tracks my mileage and allows me to mark things like road hazards and traffic stops, and awards me with points that put me in a ranking with other users of the app. Swarm awards me points for checking in to places I visit, and occasionally points to discounts at those places for app users. Merriam-Webster feeds me a Word of the Day to try to use in conversation.

App developers are smart. They know an app is more likely to be used if it feels more like play and less like work. They know that people seek out play.

Play is important. Play is fundamental to enjoying the beautiful gift of life that God has given to us.

And I forget that sometimes. I get carried away with getting things done and pushing to goals and I neglect the beauty and wonder that surrounds me and begs for me to play with it.

And I’m afraid that what I’m teaching my children is the importance of stress and rush and goal-focused activity, and I’m neglecting teaching them how wonderful and joyful life is.

We are surrounded by a cacophony of busyness and worry and stress, and those are not gifts from God. What God gives us is beauty and joy and play.

And I, for one, need to take myself far less seriously and invest more time in play.