The Power of Play

What role does "play" play in your life? Leah Robin causes me to pause and consider whether or not I embrace the power of play. Read on ...


The Power of Play

By Leah Robin

I was huffing my way uphill on an after-work run, my head spinning with deadlines and to-do's from the previous work hours, the beauty of the grassy green and little stream going completely unnoticed.

Stop it, you're doing it again, I scolded myself, at the realization I was furrowing my brow, creating that un-erasable line on my forehead. Just like my mother's. Oops. I found that as long as I kept rehearsing my to-do list in my head, my face remained stuck in that squinty-eyed scowl. The only way to smooth my face was to clear my mind.

Just as I reached the top of the hill and stopped to catch my breath, two little boys on bikes racing from opposite directions, almost collided right in front of me. They pulled up next to each other, happy little eyes lighting up in recognition.

"Hey, Ollie," one boy said to the other, "do you want to play?"

The response elicited from Ollie was immediate: "Yeah!"

Something in my heart stood upright at attention; I had to catch my breath - and not because I was running at altitude.

Do you want to play? What a beautiful question.

I admit, I dream about dance parties in my kitchen and spontaneous dinners on the back porch with my neighbors, and belly laughing with a friend over who-knows-what. I have blank canvas and rusty brushes lying in a spare room corner, waiting for color and a lovely stroke. I live near wide tree-lined trails and spacious parks, beckoning me to lace up those walking shoes.

Yet if I am honest, my internal adult says everything must be "done," before I can let loose. Which means, "play" in any version, gets shoved to the bottom of the priority list.

Grad school? Check. Grown up girl job? Check. Family? In Progress. When I'm not hurtling toward the next big thing, I'm engaged in self-critique, my five-year plan, or worrying about the freckle on my back turning into a cancerous mole (okay, let's be honest, the many freckles on my back).

The full, abundant, cup-runneth-over life Jesus promises so often seems elusive - out of reach. The boys' question got me to thinking: was I missing something so simple?

My therapist friends often use play therapy - like adult coloring books or sand trays - to help their clients connect to deeper parts of themselves that can't be accessed through analytical thought or mere talking. Play allows us to rest the left side of our brain that we use for decision making, problem solving, bill paying, organizing, and worrying and tap into that imaginative, creative idea-generator.

I realize that as an adult, I don't get to give up "adulting." But I want to step into more spaces more often where I am deliciously unaware of myself, lost in the sheer wonderment of the happy mystery of life.

Today, I haven't made it through all my emails. I still have a couple of errands to run. There's always a bill to pay or a phone call to make. But it's a lovely evening and the fall weather is calling. I ask myself:

"Do I want to play?"

Maybe for just a minute, maybe for an hour I am free to just be. Immediately, God seems close at my side. Philippians 4 bubbles up inside of me:

"Rejoice always. Again I will say: rejoice! ... The Lord is Near."

Here's to glorifying God with all of me, in work and play.

Leah Robin, is Pastor of Administration and Women's Ministry at Wellspring Church. She is a graduate of Denver Seminary. Leah is happiest when exploring Denver, running, cross-country skiing in the mountains, sharing good conversation over a good meal, and plotting her next adventure. She hopes to spend the rest of her life engaging others with the love of Jesus.

© Elisa Morgan 2020

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