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Our Need for Holy Recreation

alec vanderboom

I'm learning a lot from this challenging newborn of mine. (We're currently in month six of "whatever you call it"--colic, infant reflux, hyper sensitivity, dragging her Mama to heaven one scream at a time.)

I figured out a clear difference between "Me Time" and "Recreation."

Me Time is selfish. It was NOT working. Me Time was when I either threw the tense, crying baby at my husband the second he came into the door after work and announced "I'm off duty now!"--or when my husband found me sobbing after another failed breastfeeding session would say "Why don't you go to the coffee shop for a break..."

That sounds great in theory, but it didn't work out in practice.  I'd go to our only local coffee shop --which does NOT sell good coffee (only burnt) and overpriced stale baked goods, and spend money we didn't have, eat stuff that tastes worse than I could make at home, I'd read bad Nora Roberts romance books for an hour and then come home still a mess. I'd walk in, the baby would see me and start crying for milk, my insides would get into a ball of acid and I'd think "When can I get another break from my life again..."

In my head, Me Time is something I grab as my "right" when I'm feeling overwhelmed and ungrateful about my life.

Contrast that with "recreation."

Recreation demands foresight. Recreation is intensely individual. Recreation is a gift of play given to us by God.

Recreation demands sacrifice from the whole family. It feels uncomfortable on the front end. For example, I often grab a $3 Nice Chocolate Bar while shopping at Target without thinking about it because "It's been a hard day and I deserve a treat." That was a totally different experience from my husband saying I think you should spend $125 (which is a week's worth of groceries for my family) to go to fencing lessons." It felt really hard and weird to quote "take" that money from my family for my lessons--and the only reason I could do it was because I'd urged my husband to buy a fishing license and new pole two weeks before. (Not to mention the fear I had getting into a car leaving a young baby who won't take a bottle yet, while I spent an hour in a gym in another town).

Yet my individual fencing lessons blessed my family beyond measure.  My husband and I now have plans to fence competitively when we're 70! (Can you imagine a sport that starts out at age 9 and yet also has an over age 70 division?) Similarly, his early morning fishing trips make him so relaxed and happy. He's taken our family out on picnics to beautiful local fishing spots and caught fish with our kids.

Recreation is holy. It is time alone that restores you. It blesses your family. It sets up a good role model to your children and your spouse. Recreation is a fancy name for "recess". It makes you feel like a kid again.

When you feel like a kid, you can pray better. When you pray better, you love better.

What are your holy recreation choices?

Here are mine: Fencing practice, playing tennis with my husband (perfect toddler friendly activity b/c you can shut the gate and let the toddler run around while you work up a sweat), running around the block at 6 AM when everyone is still asleep in bed, talking Fall walks with my husband while pushing two sleepy babies in a stroller, dancing in the living room while listening to Pandora, knitting

Here are things I want to add: playing bridge with friends, writing snail mail letters, singing hymns, starting a church choir