Play for Fun| By Ellie Saul

Have you ever met someone gifted, successful, sharp, smiling, convincingly charming and delightful even, on the outside… and then in one question realize she is barely hanging on to a glimpse of a thread for dear life in so much pain?

What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45

Within minutes of meeting Mrs. P, I knew a few things about her. She is poised, manicured, dressed to impress and ready to tell me all about herself. Mrs. P has a very successful husband who is older than her, a grandson she teaches all about the Bible when she keeps him once a month, and her favorite thing about herself to mention is that she is the piano player at a large, prominent  church. She plays for multiple services and in impressive choral groups and even travels with her talent. She actually works hand in hand with “the” pastor.

“Oh wow! You’re amazing!” I said, “What’s your favorite song to play?”

She looked at me matter-of-factly and said, “I can play anything they tell me to.” 

“That’s so awesome! When no one is asking you to play… what do you like to play for fun?” I asked innocently.

She looked at me like there was an unfamiliar foul smell she couldn’t describe… puzzled… and quickly replied, “Oh no, I don’t play for fun.”

My heart broke. She doesn’t play for fun.

 Her elevator speech self description of prestige and success would make anyone feel like she has it all together… I couldn’t even respond, but she sure did… I think my question opened the flood that is really in her heart because she started talking about losing a child, losing her parents, and losing her job in one year with a stoic, emotionless face. Quickly she described again all of the work she is doing with music now that she is retired against her will. She listed countless tasks, travels, and ministries concluding that her faith is what keeps her. 

My heart broke again. That doesn’t sound like faith at all…it sounds like work

She is grieving and hurting and only has the words to describe to me that being very busy every day with important tasks with important people at important places and playing the piano **not for fun** is the “faith” that helps her cope. 

When we are grieving we can easily come to a place where we “survive” by working and filling our day with importing tasks. I’ve done it.  When I was grieving I needed to hear that I had permission to fall apart, permission to drop every single plate I was spinning, permission to seek counsel, permission to rest, permission to mourn… and most importantly for me... I needed permission to play for fun, to experience guiltless joy again. 

Sometimes grief makes us so sad and so lonely and we don’t even know how it happens… but somewhere we start feeling guilty for joy because it feels somehow disrespectful to the loss or grief we are experiencing.

If you are hurting today… If you have an amazing elevator self-accolade speech that holds the rivers of pain in your heart back only long enough for a stranger to ask one innocent question that opens the flood of grief you have… let me give you permission today to do 5 things from the Bible. 

  1. You have permission to fall apart. Mourning is not weakness, it is a vehicle God can use for us to be comforted and heal. (Matthew 5:4)
  2. You have permission to drop every spinning plate (you can pick them up later if you even want to pick them up again. Even if they break, someone can sweep them up for you for now) (Proverbs16:9,Exodus 14:14)
  3. You have permission to seek counsel. Experts can help you talk through things and look at things in ways you never imagined. (Proverbs 12:15)
  4. You have permission to rest.  Sometimes resting is discipline and learned and can feel like a punishment if you are a go-getter… it’s for your good. Our bodies literally heal when we rest (Matthew 11:28)
  5. You have permission to PLAY FOR FUN! You have permission to laugh, sing, jump, clap, and have guiltless joy even if you are suffering loss. Joy does not diminish your grief or make your hurt any less significant. It just releases strength that you very well may need to get through this pain. Jesus Himself considered JOY on the cross experiencing the deepest pain of His life on earth. (Hebrews 12:2, Philippians 4:4, Nehemiah 8:10)

Who Wore It Better?|By Jasmine Beard

 

2way8Comparison.

It is said to be the killer of joy, yet all of us at one time or another have compared ourselves to someone else.

Today we live in a society where people boast about the highs of life and often mask the reality of their lives.

As people, we often want others to view us as better than we actually are because of pride. It is because of this that now in our society, people are suffering with depression and anxiety triggered through social media. Instead of getting our worth and value from God as He intended us to do, we tend to measure how we are doing in life in comparison to others.

“Of course, we wouldn’t dare to put ourselves in the same class or compare ourselves with those who rate themselves so highly. They compare themselves to one another and make up their own standards to measure themselves by, and then they judge themselves by their own standards. What self-delusion!” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:12‬ (‭TPT‬‬)

Even before social media, people have been comparing themselves to others for centuries. Not only do we compare ourselves to others, but we compare other people to each other.

A perfect example is Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle.

Tabloids read:

“Who’s prettier?”

“Which wedding dress did you like better?”

And forbid Meghan Markle does not appear outside a hospital a couple hours after giving birth like Kate Middleton did after having her children. The tabloids will literally explode with comparison.

Growing up, people loved to compare me and my best friend. We did everything together and were almost like twins. We were inseparable.

Unfortunately, throughout the years, people often compared us to each other. I was labeled the the “cute friend”, and she was labeled the “smart one”.

By people comparing me to her all the time, all I strived for after that was to be smart. However, no matter what I did, she was always smarter. If I made an A, she made an even higher A.

On the other hand, no matter how pretty my friend looked (and she is beautiful), I always got more compliments than her. This resulted in me feeling like I wasn’t smart and left her feeling like she wasn’t pretty. But the truth is we are both smart and beautiful.

Comparison is not only the killer of joy, but it is a liar. You will never reach your full potential by comparing your life to someone else or by being envious.

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” Galatians‬ ‭6:4‬ ‭(NLT‬‬)

If you keep your gaze on others, you will always find someone you think is prettier than you, someone you think has a better husband than you, and someone you think has a better life than you. But when we turn our gaze onto Jesus and are grateful for how He created us and the life He has entrusted to us, His truth can prevail.