by Bronwyn Lea
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.
“Don’t forget to wear a crazy, fun hat to this week’s staff meeting! There will be prizes!” The announcement was met with eyerolls and a couple half-hearted complaints, but there was also a noticeable buzz in the atmosphere. I immediately began cataloging my options: should I wear a glittery unicorn hat, or my multicolored mohawk wig? A wig counts as a “hat”, right? I left the meeting smiling in anticipation.
Usually staff meetings are all business: sticking to the agenda and getting things done as efficiently as possible. So why take the extra time to add ridiculous, colorful hats to a meeting?
Productivity is a good thing, but so is fun. Whether it’s at work, in our relationships with friends and family, or in ministry: having fun together is important. When life gets stressed and cluttered with to-do lists, fun often feels like the last thing we should be focusing on. But there are good reasons — and biblical ones!— to make fun something we prioritize.
One of the biggest things I need to remember in my walk with God is that my identity lies in who I am, not what I do. We are not human doings, we are human beings, beloved by God just as we are. This is central to the gospel of grace.
And yet, we so quickly focus on what needs to get done, both by us and by others. The result can be that we start to feel like machines; and evaluate others by what they accomplish or contribute, too.
Having fun with others reminds us that life is about more than productivity, it’s about togetherness. Scripture reminds us that in God’s world, there’s time for all of it: a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4). There’s time for work, and then there’s time for fun - and all of this is part of what God has given his children to be busy with (Ecclesiastes 3:10). God made humans in his image: we were made for more than a job; we were made for joy.
Another word for fun is recreation, which has the idea of rest built right into it. God didn’t make us to work all the time: he also set regular times of rest, or sabbath. Scripture gives two main goals for rest: we need time to remember our redemption (Deuteronomy 5:12-25), and we need time to remember our place in creation (Exodus 20:8-11)… or, to put it another way, to enjoy re-creation. God established these patterns from the get-go in Genesis 2:1-3: there were days of rest, and then a day that was holy: quite literally a holy-day (or holiday!)
When we step outside, marvel the sunset, sweat our way up a hiking trail, collect fall leaves, listen to the waves, or the crunch of snow underfoot: we’re joyfully connecting with God’s creation. That kind of outdoor play and fun does our spirits deep and restorative good. When we pick up a paintbrush, build or bake something or make up a story: we’re being creative, and in doing so we are re-creating and experiencing an aspect of God’s rest. When we make time for fun, we create space to reconnect with God, others, and ourselves.
If it’s been a while since you’ve had fun and you could do with some help, look no further than the children around you. Kids are fun experts. Kids remind us that *anything* can be turned into a game, because fun is what you make of it. Having fun doesn’t require money, all it takes is a little imagination. In the imagination of a child, an ordinary stick can become a light sabre or a chocolate eclair, and cleaning up can become a race or a dance party. A piece of toast can become a funny face just by adding a few raisins. Passing the salt at the dinner table can be hilarious if you say it in a funny voice.
One of the great gifts of belonging to a church community is that it includes children, and children can teach their older adult brothers and sisters in the faith to remember that God made us as creative beings, wired for fun.
I am a pretty serious adult, but one of the biggest gifts of becoming a mother has been being reintroduced to play by my children. At first, I played because it was my job as their mother to play with them… but fairly soon, their fun was infectious and I found myself enjoying being silly with them. I rediscovered the joy of knock-knock jokes. I learned new board games (and I liked it!)
And I think that God our Father, looking down on us as we gather around a deck of cards after dinner, or wear silly hats during our staff meeting, or laugh with joy as I watch my uncoordinated dog try to walk over the snow, is delighted by our delight. One of the things I am 100% sure we will do with Jesus in the new heavens and the new earth is to laugh together.
Yes, there is much God has given us to do in this world: important, meaningful things. And having fun is surely one of them.
Bronwyn Lea is the author of Beyond Awkward Side Hugs: Living as Christian Brothers and Sisters in a Sex-Crazed World. She is a stay-at-home (for the pandemic) pastor, editor for Propel Sophia, speaker, and fan of fun board games. Sign up for her monthly-ish newsletter here, and connect online on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.