Monday, April 4, 2011

God in the Yard Week 5 - Part 3 "I have been trained to think that growth happens through suffering more than play. I think this is based on..."

As I respond to this statement/contemplative comment made by L.L. Barkat in the book God in the Yard I find that the consistent focus of several authorities in my life has been obedience = blessing. If you obey you will be blessed. If you don't, well, bummer.

When obedience is the "be all" and "end all" of everything spiritual there is not a lot of space for play. You are so busy obeying that anything else feels like negligence or even dismissive of God's presence.

Also, until recently, my seasons of painful growth have been much more memorable than the times I have grown in places of play. It is hard to imagine God teaches us anything during play because it doesn't usually leave a BIG mark like the education of the furnace.

I played growing up. My mom especially knows how to play. We grew up with lots of laughter, especially at the family dinner table. As we shared the events of the day, something funny usually came up and we would all (including Dad, though often he was the last to cave to the belly laughs) giggle til our faces ached. The ultimate goal would then become to get mom to snort, which would set off another whole round of hysteria (that was usually when Dad caved!).

I think my mom learned how to "perform" obedience because of her very authoritative father (retired from both Army and Navy) was pretty hard on her big brother so she jumped through the hoops to stay out of trouble. But for as long as I can remember, Grandpa has been very funny too. So they knew how to play and laugh as well as follow the rules.

In my adult spiritual journey I became more obsessed with obedience as a means to an end. I wanted to become pregnant and therefore I had to show God I would be able to be trusted with a child if I obeyed - all the time. Except it was never His standard I was meeting, it was my perception of His standard which left me empty, angry, depressed and overweight.

After almost ten years of that, He blessed me with three boys (His timing - no drugs or special stuff) and my sense of humor has been tested zillions of times. He has used them to teach me more than I could ever describe.

But let me bring this all the way to right now in my life:

These past few months God has been teaching me to "lighten up". I have spent almost two decades diving into the "deeper" things and have failed to really embrace the "lighter" things.

The interesting part of this has been watching a movie or two that contain "questionable" humor or having  a drink past "enough". And instead of a lightning bolt zapping me onto the greased pole to hell, I have kicked back and laughed more.

Now, don't get me wrong here, I do not believe that getting drunk or watching "The Hangover" should become a habit or a lifestyle. I am just saying that for a girl who spent many, many years trying to be "obedient" (according to my legalistic understanding) it has amazed me that I have not been "deeply convicted" (said in a condescending tone with condemning eyes looking darkly at me over half lenses). I have actually sensed God's chuckle over me. He wants me to lighten up. He is teaching me how to love Him and receive love from Him within His boundless grace. He has reminded me time and time again that who I am in Him will not change whether I have an uptight demeanor or a spunky, adventurous, funny zest for life.

I am seeking Him on how to play more and this book is really drawing me into it. I want to learn how to play well, often. Laughter has always been frequent with me, but my playing, it's improving - so watch out!! :)



Laughing out Loud
Brings glitter to a "nice" day
Reminds us there is joy
Not just happiness.

Gut bustin' peals of sound
Teary eyes and aching cheeks
Reveal the delight
We were created to savor.

A silly word
Funny phrases
Mismatched rhymes
All can free the giggles
From their somber abode.

Making someone laugh
Is more satisfying than
The richest meal
More refreshing than
A good nights sleep.

Laughter gets on everyone
Like a shower of confetti
We should be okay
With a little mess
So it gets on us too!

Not the most brilliant poem I've ever written - but you get the point... Laugh. More. Play. More.


Unknown said...

I love this poem, Jennifer! I especially love the playfulness. I am in a season of "play" with God right now...and I have to say, it sure is leaving a mark. I guess you know that reading God in the Yard led me to commit to "play" outside everyday this year, and that led to my Monday posts "Playdates with God". It is changing me. My spiritual walk is growing richer.

I'm glad you feel free enough to play a little too. :) I think it's harder when the kids are small--which is kind of counterintuitive, but someone has to be the grown up.

Love to you, girl.

L.L. Barkat said...

This really made me smile. I feel like running around the neighborhood with you, and laughing! :)

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I have been married to my best friend for over 29 years and our children are 16, 15 and 12 years old. I have struggled with infertility, suffered the loss of a baby by miscarriage, and endured multiple career paths. I have experienced a crisis of faith that shook me to the core and lost dear friends to tragic death. I have a personal relationship with Jesus which is essential to surviving and even thriving in my circumstances. I hope you will be blessed by my heart and words. Thank you for being here..