“Yet [I] came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” –Matthew 11:19a
One evening at bedtime, I asked my son Cameron, who was five, what he’d like to thank God for.
He replied, of course, “I don’t know.”
“Well, what makes you happy? We’ll thank God for that.”
The little wheels in his mind whirled a bit. Then, in a matter of fact voice, he said, “Well, playing makes me happy.”
How many adults would have replied so simply as that?
Having and supporting meaningful relationships. Finding a good job and gaining financial security. Maintaining health. All those things and more, along with the stresses and worries that accompany them, are what we adults call “fun.”
What happened to just playing and enjoying the adventures of today?
God imbued our DNA with a play gene that we once enjoyed but now suppress because of more serious concerns.
Jesus had fun. He partied so much that his enemies criticized and called him names. He also instructed people not to worry but to relax each day and enjoy the playground God’s provided (Matthew 6:25-34).
As years take their toll on our bodies and spirits, perhaps one of the most important spiritual disciplines we can develop is intentional play. Sort of sad we’d need to develop a discipline for something that once came so naturally, isn’t it?
In what small way can we rekindle play?
That night, after Cam reminded me about playing, he added one other lesson about happiness.
“And hugging Daddy makes me happy.”
With that, he put his spindly arms around my neck and squeezed as hard as he could.
Playing and hugging are two good sources of happiness. They’re not unrelated.