God carries us through times of sorrow, teaching us to live and love with abandon. We can trust God’s invitation to have fun and enjoy life’s adventure.
People have fun in lots of different ways. Go out to dinner, watch a movie, dance, play sports, hang-out with friends. Immersing yourself in hobbies is a great way to relax and unwind. I have been giving this a lot of thought recently.
I have a few confessions to make.
Here is the first: I am too serious. It’s not like I don’t laugh or smile, I do, but I take my life very seriously. I make lists, plans, prepare, and predict. When I was a young girl I would literally plan out conversations. I plan out each step of my day. As a student I would write out my plan for studying before I could begin to study. When we go on vacation I plan out itineraries weeks before we leave.
Confession number two: The thing I pride myself on, isn’t exactly true. Being intelligent has always been an important descriptor to how I see myself. My husband lovingly says I’m the smartest one in the room and it secretly fills me with bubbling joy quickly followed by a deep shame. Because it’s not true. I have a learning disability that makes organization and logical thinking difficult. To combat this I have pushed myself to the opposite extreme.
Finally, my most secret confession: I stopped believing in fun. I have focused my life on striving to find the best. Sometime around the age of twenty or so this seems to have taken a decidedly down hill turn. I decided on being a teacher and gave up my childish dream of being an actress on Broadway. Being a grown up took precedence in my life. When I became a mother I felt the weight of responsibility. A few years later I had my first brush with death, and mortality became a very real entity. Later in my early thirties the greatest tragedy in my life occurred – the death of my son. I lost joy.
By the time I was thirty-five, there was no fun left in my life.
But God has a way of changing the story. He surely changed mine. We moved to a town where I knew no one. Our families lived hundreds of miles away. I had no job. What I did have was my husband and my daughter. We spent all of our time together that first year. I did eventually find a job, we met friends through my daughters soccer team, and we all learned to laugh more and have fun when our son was born.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12, NIV
God quite clearly reminded us to laugh and love with abandon. I remember one day when our baby was about 14 months old, the weather turned warm, the trees were in bloom and we spent a whole day out in the backyard. It was beautiful. We had a picnic that included his first popsicle. He drove his tractor, ran around naked, laughed like a loon, and took the sweetest nap curled up next to me while I read. It was the first thing I hadn’t “planned” in a long time.
I wish this was such an awe inspiring moment that I realized my control issues were getting in the way of God living in my life…it wasn’t.
Over the next few years I kept asking God to help me put “fun” back into my life. There were more of these moments, but I never seemed to be able to catch hold of the string, and it kept flying out of my hand just as I would get my fingers around it.
During this time I started listening to a lot more Christian music and found Newsboys. Their song “Live with Abandon” has become an anthem in my life. Let go of the plans and live the life God has made for you. He wants you to have fun, live life to its fullest, and trust in Him. He has the plan.
“I wanna live with abandon
Give you all that I am
Every part of my heart Jesus
I place in your hands
I wanna live with abandon”
Over the last year I have found myself more trusting in this plan and more willing to give up control to God. I can’t really tell you why this has happened. We moved again, but this time to a town where we had some friends and family closer. My daughter is now grown up and off at college. I had to find a new job – one that was very difficult to begin with. My son has had a hard time adjusting, but finally seems to be settling in.
All this is to say that my life is ordinary…nothing that many other people haven’t dealt with. The one thing that has changed in the past year has been prayer. I am a much more faithful friend to my God. I talk to him everyday. Usually I write those prayers down, but not always. I also try to listen to Him. “What do you want me to do?,” and then I feel a pull, encounter a situation, or hear His words through someone else. His answers are there. I still plan my day, I know what is happening tomorrow and next week, but I have made some room for revision. I have made some room for an old relationship that needed some tending to.
Now, I am having fun for the first time…maybe in forever. I laugh more with my family, my students, my friends. I see the world brighter and clearer than I ever have before. My sense of optimism and redemption has opened up. Fear and anxiety have lessened. Life is calling me and I am excited to accept its invitation because I know it comes from my Father in heaven. Join me in the fun adventures God has planned for us.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Thank you for being my Creator. You have brought joy and purpose in my life. Help me live with abandon for You. Keep my feet on the path that follows Your plan. I know wonderful adventures await me if I will allow myself to trust in You completely. Thank you for guiding me. Continue to show me Your way forward through this life’s twists and turns. My greatest desire is to join You in the next life.
How has God changed your story?
If you have found this inspiring, share the encouragement…