Posted by: karanoel | October 25, 2019

Shopkin bible love

As a kid, I knew how to play. By that I don’t mean just structured play, like a board game with a defined purpose and clear starting and ending points, which has remained manageable through the years. I mean free play where I could apply my imagination to whatever toys were available and fully enter into a world I’d created. Somewhere along the way, that ability which once came so naturally became really, really hard. 

I didn’t fully realize this until a few years ago when my sweet boy, Chase, kept asking me to play Shopkins with him. These are small, overpriced, plastic toys made in barely discernible shapes of food and other household items. Playing Shopkins with Chase meant wide open free play with no concrete framework and no definitive end. It’s not that I didn’t want to. Okay, fine. I totally didn’t want to. I would have rather gone to the dentist. Not the gentle one I go to now, but the one that actually hurt me on a regular basis.

Shopkins

Sometimes I was successful in redirecting our playtime to something I enjoyed more, like a game or puzzle. Or anything else, really. But from time to time I would spend a handful of minutes that felt like hours attempting to create dialogue between characters like a guitar-wielding broccoli and what appeared to be dish soap. Because of love. The sacrificial bible kind. Jesus must have known about Shopkins when he taught us about this kind of love.

We eventually graduated to playing with Legos, which was definitely an improvement, but I still found it to be hard and unnatural. Not the building part, even though I’m not super creative in that area, but actually playing with the characters and scenes we had built. But one day, instead of trying to avoid, redirect or just grind out some playtime because of Shopkin bible love, it dawned on me that I could actually try to enter in and enjoy myself. Like the kid I once was, not the middle-aged grownup I have become.

Lego Characters

I’m not going to lie. It was still awkward and a bit forced. But then, as I continued to “practice” playing, my Lego characters started developing personalities and accents and quirks. I liked them a lot and thought they were pretty dang funny. Chase seemed to agree and now considers those characters mine. In this process, I have been realizing something. I am having fun. Like a kid. I’m not saying I want to play for hours at a time  and it’s still a choice I have to make, but it’s changed from the sacrificial duty of love to the playful joy of love. Way better than the dentist any day – even the gentle one.

This newfound playfulness isn’t just bound to our little Lego world. I laughed with the uninhibited delight of an easily-entertained toddler when I realized that if I throw plastic starfish at Chase while he’s taking a bath, they will stick to his chest and tummy. I have no idea why this hit my funny bone, but every single stick of a starfish drew out a riotous laugh. It just didn’t get old. Yesterday, when I was talking aloud to God as I tend to do when I’m alone, something in our conversation hit me as downright hysterical and I found myself once again laughing out loud in a distinctly un-grownup kind of way. While anyone looking on might question my maturity and sanity (if they haven’t already), I think this spontaneous joy – especially for someone who overthinks and overanalyzes a whole lot in life – is the greatest thing ever and I have decided it’s at least partially linked to playtime.

It made me think of that verse in Matthew when Jesus says, “And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” I still think that mostly means to be without guile and full of trust as we fully depend on our Daddy, but now I’m thinking it might also mean to learn how to play and lose ourselves in the fun of it. Maybe because it requires setting aside our cares and worries, our tasks and burdens, our expectations and appearances – which is an act of trust. Or maybe by practicing what “could be,” instead of what “is,” we are actually practicing faith. However you look at it, I hope I can keep choosing to enter into playtime because it pretty much feels like entering the kingdom of heaven, right here in Chase’s playroom. 


Responses

  1. So well-done–again, Kara. You are really good with words, like you have fun writing, which I am sure you do!! Sure enjoy the themes you write on as well.

    • Thanks Paul! I do have fun writing!! Most of the time, anyway 🙂


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