I remember the first time I took the twins to a program at our local library, they were barely old enough to sit on their own. Each baby played with their own toy and wasn’t interested in what the rest of the group was doing. Mildred Parten, American Sociologist and Researcher, calls this Solitary Play. As we continued visiting the library group, the twins watched other children play; usually children a tad older than themselves. Appropriately, this stage is called the Spectator Stage. As the time passed, the girls would get down in the floor beside the other children and play near them, but never with them. This type of play is called Parallel Play. Playing together with other children didn’t happen until a few years later. By the time they were 6, they played well together and with others. They were interested in both playing and people. This is God’s design. God designed us to progress into people who cooperate with each other. People who engage WITH one another. These stages of development are the same for introverts and extroverts and is why I stress the importance of playing for both my girls over seat work.
“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.”Brian Sutton-Smith
I have this tendency to be a hermit and easily fall victim into solitary living. I even remember thinking during the thick of the lock down in 2020, “This is my jam.” The longer I stayed cooped up in my four walls, the easier it was to stay cooped up and the harder It got for me to want to leave. I got out of the habit of going. I spiraled down a hole of depression and the longer I stayed in, the deeper the hole got. I had never experienced anxiety until then. Our choir concerts were canceled. Our church was cancelled. Our vacation was cancelled. Trips to see family was canceled. Satan had me right where he wanted me. He had me away from community, living life in a bubble I called home. It felt safe and miserable at the same time. Not only was it tearing me up, but each day that I stayed locked up, was another day that I wasn’t touching the lives of people. I am a teacher. I am a friend. I am a neighbor. I am a servant and called to serve my community and church for the sake of God’s Kingdom. It’s a loss to many when I am not available and Satan loves that. He loves lost people and loves it when no one is there to lead them. Therefore, I live life with intention. I wake up each morning and choose to live and be available to my fellow people….just outside of my comfort zone. I never have to go very far to find people in my path. Playing looks a little different now as an adult than it did for me as a child and it’s going to look a bit different for each person. Today, I’m here to tell you: refuse to give in to solitary living.(Being intentional about solitude is a whole other post!) Refuse to give in to parallelism. Refuse to be a spectator! People are hungry; hungry for Love, hungry for Truth. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy that men and women don’t live by bread only, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. While some people may be hungry for physical food, all people are hungry for spiritual food. Be a mouthpiece for God, a vessel for His words here on Earth. Bring heaven down to Earth! Who does God want to invite to your table this week? Take your table outside! Get out of your comfort zone, it’s time to play! Be available and feed these hungry people because it’s exactly what Jesus would do. People are hungry.