Max Lucado tells a story in his book Just Like Jesus how he took great delight in playing with his daughters when they were young. He would “come home, shout their names, and watch them run" to him “with extended arms and squealing voices. " He continues, “For the next few moments we would speak the language of love. We'd roll on the floor, gobble bellies, and tickle tummies and laugh and play. "
He describes this as ‘delighting in each other's presence. ’ Lucado's kids made no requests of him he couldn't oblige them, and he made no demands of them they couldn't achieve. They were, for these moments at least, completely level pegging; equals with the same purpose and goal. Now that's capturing the spirit of family unity, is it not?
There is surely not a higher pinnacle for a father or mother than this. Spending time with our kids playing is such a thankful blessing. I've just been to the playground with my two younger daughters - we call this one our ‘favourite park’ - to play dodge-ball and though we were only there for little more than 30 minutes, we had an unadulterated ball! Anything ‘good’ goes during these times. This means anything that is acceptable to both the kids and the parent or grandparent, as far as play is concerned, is okay - no rules. The traditional parent-child roles are thrown out the window whilst everyone enjoys playing like children.
It's important to take our opportunities as we have them. There will come a time when ‘playing’ with our kids won't finally be possible because they will be too cool for it. This is as they enter the crucial teen years, especially the mid- to late-teens. In these times, we can engage with them, however, by finding stealthily what gets them going and what gets them talking. Instead of playing it might be times of getting to know one another more or coaching them with their studies and life routines.
When we genuinely spend ourselves totally - our time, effort, and enthusiasm - with our children and grandchildren we often reap much more than we thought we would. It is a complete surprise how good we feel inside. This is a sample of the abundant life of the Spirit. And to look at the joy on their faces and to see the growing levels of confidence and self-esteem - a burgeoning self-image of self-empowerment and self-belief - we should know that whenever we can engender this, we should.
. . And if we often can't, we should do what we can to make it possible. We get only one go at it. Make it count now.
Copyright © 2008, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
Steve Wickham is a safety and health professional (BSc) and a qualified lay Christian minister (GradDipDiv). His key passion is work / life balance and re-creating value for living, and an exploration of the person within us.