First off I want to thank you for helping me celebrate my 6-month Blog-iversary!!! Sometimes me and the blog don’t always spend the necessary time together that we need to, but we are still very much in love as the first day we connected and excited for what’s ahead. With that said, don’t forget to share, like and follow to be entered into the drawing where TWO people will win free blog swag. One entry per media for each share or like on Insta, Facebook, Twitter, & WordPress. Winners announced next week!

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Last post, I talked about the burdens and joys in Masterpiece living that came to mind as I went on a play date to the park with one of my mom friends and her kids. Again, the whole experience was not all bad but I wanted to save the best for last as I thought about what that experience taught me. To summarize last post (even though you should really take the time to read it…but I’m biased) it was evident to me that from a young age we learn about this unspoken pecking order that we have to navigate through, find our place in, and usually to the detriment of others, maintain our position in.

My encouragement last post was that we recapture “competition” and take hold of the idea that we discover and experience the best in ourselves in the context of relationship with others, not in competition but working alongside each other well and even, dare I say, helping one another.

But, going further into my playground experience, there was so much that warmed my heart as I saw these kids interact. The first, and isn’t this always the case with kids, is the idea of play. That kids when given freedom to entertain themselves with a few simple items and an unfettered imagination can make up their own reality turning the ordinary into extraordinary.

So often there is this shift as we grow up where we forgo play and trade it in for The Grind. To be an adult we need to get rid of the imagination, dreams, and the element of fun that kids have in spades. Much of our day-to-day, even aspects of our faith, is met with the things I can’t or shouldn’t do versus the freedom to swingthink or act outside of the box and the encouragement to push past the norms of what we know.

These kids grouping together after a simple introductions, making up storylines, playing characters with heroic attributes, avoiding lava and rescuing each other from imaginary foes beautifully reminds me that we are able to fashion our world any way we want. That we are given liberty and allowance for our lives to encapsulate beauty, creativity, and even irregularity from the norm. We can choose or not choose to exist under the rules (real or imaginary) and our lives don’t have to always make sense to others.

I started to ask where the sense of play went. I think I have become so tethered to the rules around me—what I should or shouldn’t do and the voice of the others, that play falls to the wayside. But why? And I think that in part this comes from the reaction that every time I become excited about something, it’s more often than not met with defeat, caution, negative lines of questioning or personal opinion by those around me. Do you ever go through that?

When I say that I’m thinking about going skydiving—I don’t think that’s safe. When I say that I’m thinking about moving—are you sure you should do that, what about your family and friends here? When I talk about new people I’ve met—maybe you need to be less social because you can only handle so many people? When I talk about what God is leading me through—maybe you should continue to pray about that. The ringing in my ears of the others comments makes me tow the line of what popular opinion for my life of what I should or shouldn’t do. Granted in every situation I value that others want to speak into my life, but I’m trying to find the balance of where others can tell me their heart and where I just have to say, “no, it’s my life to lead.”

Elle Luna in her book, “The Crossroads of Should and Must,” talks about how the “should” in our lives (expectations, obligations, roles we are supposed to be, what is put on us from the outside) which compete with the must’s (who we are, the things in our lives that bring us to life and ultimately bring us the most joy). The “should” in some ways are must’s in training, but it is important to discern how we feel about these “should’s” and their place in our lives. But also to realize that at some point, “should’s” outgrow their use. We are not bound by them and therefore cannot continue to let them rule our lives and disrupt who we are becoming—who inevitably we NEED to be for our souls to live fully.

This brings me to my other exciting playground insight. Kids, for the most part are fearless. The little sister (from the monkey bars in last post) came up to me, introduced herself, started telling me about her family, her likes, the new dog she recently got and had no fear that I would judge her, not accept her, or that I would say who she was is wrong. It reminded me who I am, while not perfect, is accepted. I am accepted not because some person said I was, but because of whom God says I am. He calls me His child, loved, a part of His family, and worthy to die for.

Elle Luna goes on to talk about how the “should’s” we take on can be results of painful shame experiences. So we react to shame with the idea that we need to change ourselves because at one point the person we were was not accepted. So here’s the sick cycle. We come out in all of our splendor and experience not being accepted. So we put on how we “should” act and then when that person isn’t accepted either, we don’t know what to do, so we continue putting on the different “should” personalities seeing which one will be accepted. Those “should” personalities are hemmed in by the rules and boxes of their respective environments, which in turn confine us to an unspoken set of rules that limit all that we could be. Do you follow me? You can either choose to be a crazy person adapting yourself to the different environments, or you can attempt be yourself and cope with the fact that not everyone is going to like you, your actions, your lifestyle, your opinions, or your thought processes.

My encouragement to myself and also to you is that we look at the “should’s” in our lives that have taken captive the little dreamers inside us. The rules and roles that we have bound ourselves to that do not bring us into a fuller picture of who we are. Where did they come from? Are those “should’s” still true for me and who I am today? Do I choose to keep holding on to them or can I release them to step into a fuller picture of who I am or who I am becoming? The sassy part of me wants to tell people to take their “should” and shove it where the sun don’t shine, but that’s not very productive, now is it?

As cliché and juvenile as it sounamanda-8932ds, let’s get back to being those crazy kids we were before, the ones who were fearless—driven by imagination and heart, unstoppable as to what the possibility of tomorrow held. I always tell people who talk about their age that today is the youngest that you’re ever going to be for the rest of your life, so live it up. I give each of us permission to play a little today, letting the should go, and living into the fullness of who we are.

Until next time…Live as a Masterpiece!

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