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Playing Real Life

On Sunday we finally converted Jack’s crib into a toddler bed. I wasn’t sure how well it would go, if he would get out of bed at 3 am or refuse to stay in bed at all. So far there haven’t been any real issues.

Yesterday, Jack invented a little game for us to play. I guess you could call it “Going to Bed.” You see, I put a couple of pillows next to his bed in case he should roll out of it (funny side note, we’ve found him sleeping in the middle of the night on the floor on those pillows! Sweet sweet boy!) and yesterday Jack insisted I lie down with my head on a pillow. Actually, he grabbed my sweater with both hands and pulled me to the floor. I was laughing so hard I didn’t even try to resist or to get him to play nice. After I was lying there, he put a blanket over me, gave me a kiss, turned out the light and said, “G’night!” as he shut the door. After lying there for a moment, thoroughly amused, I called out his name and he quickly came back in, “What’s wrong?!”

I was chuckling to myself how kids like to play “make believe” which is actually Playing Real Life. When my sisters and I were kids we played school. My friends liked to play wedding. Others like to play house. Why did we play at the lives we saw adults living? Did we play life as practice? As fantasy? Imagining, “This is what life is like for adults! Isn’t it great?!”

Unfortunately, as adults life is not much like our idealistic child’s play. Far too often with Jack I do not act in the patient, loving manner I had with my dolls and I’m more likely to flip out the way I did at my sister Chelsea when she would be the problem child in our imaginary classroom just to drive me crazy. I think I still need therapy because of her abuse.

In Scripture, God gives us a picture of how He desires our lives to be. We would live in love. Love not only for other people, but for Him and even ourselves. We would experience joy – regularly! We would have peace that goes beyond our understanding whatever our circumstances. Past or present. We would be patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful and full of self control.

Pause for a moment and imagine what life would be like if they were always full of these qualities. How good life is meant to be.

God would not dangle a life like that before our eyes without giving us the ability to live it. Thankfully, because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives we are enabled to actually be patient, loving, joyful people. How? By practicing. By Playing Real Life.

I have been rather stressed out lately and I would love nothing more than to be a joyful person instead of the worry-wart I find myself being. I read this quote the other day:

The root of joy is gratefulness… It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.

(Brother David Steindl-Rast in Brennan Manning’s Ruthless Trust, 33)

To experience joy in life, we practice gratitude. So, I’ve been practicing. I thank God for my food, even when it doesn’t taste very good. I thank him for the heat we have during these freezing cold weeks. I even thanked him for my blow dryer and moose today! And you know what? My stress about money is not nearly as prevalent as it was a couple of weeks ago before I started giving thanks. I’m actually… happy!

We can do this with any godly desire. Do you wish to love? Start by receiving God’s love for you by caring for yourself. Do you desire to be kind? Consider ways you can show kindness to those in your life and strangers outside of your life. Play Real Life and see if Real Life begins to look like your Play.

Again, all of this is done through the power of the Spirit, we can do nothing by ourselves (John 15:4-5). So, receive God’s grace and patience with you. You may find you can extend it to others as well.

Playing Real Life. Perhaps the kiddos are onto something!

Jack, proud to be in his big boy bed.

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