Go Ahead, Be Playful! 3 God-Centered Ways to Access A More Lighthearted You
Do you remember all the time that you spent playing when you were a kid? Gosh, take me back in time and I can see my nine-year old self playing outside with my dog, Rascal. He was a beagle, and as cute as they come! I can also remember riding my bike with my friends and taking in an exciting game of kickball. If I stay with these memories long enough, I even hear the distinct sounds of my laughter while at play.
When I played, it seemed that any heaviness from school or family life just sort of melted away. I felt lighter and, yes, a good bit happier.
The pursuit of play, as I grew into adulthood, became stalled, however. The studies of graduate school and the demands of a professional news career stifled my fun. I stopped the sport of fencing and my life-long commitment to dancing, as I told myself that there was no time for these kinds of activities. I was, after all, an adult and these childish affairs had to take a back seat to real life.
So often, we can talk ourselves out of play, out of fun, and smack-dab out of living. As adults, we’re conditioned to take “adulting” very seriously. As I sit at my window, on a rainy Santa Barbara morning, I ask myself this question: Are we trying to be so adult in this life — so serious in our pursuit of success — that we’ve forgotten to enjoy the gift of life? If so, I don’t think this is healthy, and it’s actually not what God intended. He made us to be curious, to delight in His creation and to enjoy one another. God made us to play!
God the Creator wants us to embrace living in the same way in which He embraces us: fully!
This is evidenced in Zephaniah 3:17, “He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you by His love, He will rejoice over you with loud singing.”
God made us for relationship. He is waiting to fully express His joy and His playfulness with you. You see, God is not an “in the box” kind of thinker. No, this is the Creator of all things. He’s the God who made the Heavens and the Earth, who hung the stars in the sky and set the waves in motion. God’s an artist and the ultimate visionary! He created animals of all shapes and sizes. Think of our diverse animal planet and how God must have delighted in creating the powerful cheetah, or the beautiful peacock. Think of God’s playful nature as he designed the funny looking sloth and aardvark!
Indeed, our God has a sense of playfulness about him. And, so too should we. Diving into God’s wonder is how we begin to live lives that are lighthearted and playful: shedding the weight of our serious nature, and replacing it with the joy and curiosity that God intends for us.
How does this sound to you? Do you crave a time — from long ago — when life seemed lighter and more free? Did you pull the plug on play when God wasn’t finished on the playground?
I’ll be the first to say it: I did! I pulled the plug. I left God’s playground, for a time, and it didn’t make me happy. I missed His company. I missed seeing the world through God’s lenses. I missed feeling the connection that I am part of His great creation. I missed playing with God.
The good news is that God never leaves His playground. He never locks the gate. He’s just waiting — patiently — for us to come out and play: to loosen up those ties, to take off those heels, to leave those phones on airplane mode and come explore the vast universe that is God’s playing field. And, as I meditate on Zephaniah 3:17, there seems to be divine direction in how we might return to a state of playfulness in our lives, in our work, and in our worship.
In this bit of scripture, God says three things: 1) that He will take great delight in you, 2) that He will quiet you with His love, and 3) that He will rejoice over you with loud singing.
Isn’t that beautiful?
Perhaps, accessing a more lighthearted life should start with delighting in God, just as He is delighting in us: to enjoy His company, to be aware that He is with us, and to allow ourselves to feel the ease of happiness that comes from this place of knowing that we are not alone.
In this space of knowing, might it help us to be still — to quiet the mind — and feel His presence and His love flowing through our spirits? Might we find a freedom there, within this quiet place, to release ourselves from worldly pressures and just be with God? To feel his playfulness, as He releases us from the shackles of earthly seriousness…and to be curious enough to want more of all that God has to offer.
Might we be fueled by this new freedom — uninhibited — to stand, to dance, and to rejoice with loud singing of a God who loves us so much that He wants to play with us? A God who finds great pleasure in watching us explore the world that He created for us.
God’s playground is everywhere: it is all around you and all within you.
Isn’t that cool? I’m telling you something — when I focus on this truth, I feel such an exuberant enthusiasm well up inside of me. Yep, I feel like a kid again!
When we stop playing, we stop living. We stop feeling. We stop being. We stop delighting.
Here’s a question: What did you love to play when you were a child? How did playing in this way make you feel closer to God, and closer to Heaven? Journal on it, pray on it, and then get back to it!
In doing so, you’ll get back to yourself … and back to God.
You see, God wants us playful, lighthearted and open to hearing the whispers of purpose that He created for each of us. With child-like curiosity, we should take God’s hand, follow Him to the playground, let go of whatever is holding us back from experiencing the fullness of His love … AND PLAY.
Onward to lighthearted lives!
Michelle Madrid-Branch is an author, speaker, life fulfillment coach at LifeCoachMMB.com, and global advocate for women and children. She is the host of The Greater Than Project, a web series exploring the greatness within women. She is also the author of Adoption Means Love: Triumph of the Heart, The Tummy Mummy, and Mascara Moments: Embracing the Woman in the Mirror.