Reading time: 3 minutes
When you rake leaves in your yard, is it fun or work? Your answer probably depends on your purpose. Your goal might be to play in the leaves. Or, it might be to make your yard look presentable when you’d rather be doing something more fun.
Children will spend hours raking leaves when they see it as fun. But tell them it’s a chore they have to do, and they’ll spend hours moving slowly and complaining about the job.
What is Play?Play is a time-out from reality in order to better understand reality. Click To Tweet
In his classic book Homo Ludens, Johan Huizinga defined play as “a free activity standing quite consciously outside ‘ordinary’ life as being ‘not serious,’ but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it. It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner.”
Play can be work you enjoy; if it becomes drudgery, it has become something else. Play is relaxing; if it becomes stressful, it has become something else. People choose to play; if it is forced, it has become something else. Play is a glimpse of heaven. If it involves sin (missing God’s ideal), it has become something else.
Play is Related to Purpose and Rest
Play is important because it allows you to connect with the reason God created you. Kids use their imagination to re-create (recreate, grow, build) their understanding of God, self, and life. Forgetting how to have fun is never a good thing. Perhaps the Sabbath is meant to be a time to have fun instead of working so hard.
If your life is all about work, you’ll see yourself as an object that others use. You lose your value. You believe what you want is irrelevant. With a worldview like this, you become only a shell of a person. You can become so focused on tasks that you no longer feel like a person.
One of my favorite things to do is install insulation in a hot attic. Just kidding! I’ve taken on this task a couple of times and it always triggers the thought, this must be what hell feels like. Isolation from people. Irritation from glass fibers. Extreme heat. Maybe insulating is better as a non-summer activity? I’d rather be raking leaves.
When work becomes the priority in life, you’ll lose touch with your true purpose and you’ll become depressed. That’s because you’re made for more than being a machine. Machines don’t have feelings; they tolerate meaningless
God made you to have fun. He made you to experience joy.
Different people will define “fun” differently. What is work to one, will be fun to another. There will even be different times when what was once work is play, or what was once play is work.
How Much Fun Are You (Having)?
Could you be experiencing depression or anxiety because you have a faulty view of life that emphasizes work over play? Maybe you didn’t become this way on purpose, but your life has changed slowly and now you’ve forgotten how to have fun.
Do a quick check of your current lifestyle.
How much of your life is work and how much is fun?
Has your “fun” turned into a chore?
When was the last time you let loose with an all-out belly laugh?
When was the last time you chose to be more extravagant than efficient?
What are you afraid will happen if you pursue more fun in your life?
With the right motivation, your work will honor God, but God also taught His people to have times of celebration and rest. See Luke 15:23-24 and Psalm 118:24.
So this week, will you be intentional about truly playing? Set some time aside for this ultimate way to enter God’s rest. You can’t reach God’s purpose for your life without play.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.