Freedom To Play

I saw a show once that told the story of a bomb detecting dog. He was trained from a pup to sniff out bombs and was helpful in various war zones.

However, one day this brave dog became frightened at the slightest sounds. He could no longer perform his duties and was retired. A dog trainer was brought in to help find out what was going on with this dog and to help him not be so fearful anymore. What he discovered was interesting.

He claimed the dog, being trained as a young pup and always on duty, over the years had actually forgotten how to simply be a dog. He had forgotten who he was at his core, and as result, he forgot how to play, how to live openly, and literally had a breakdown.

Sadly, I could relate to this dog on some level. For I have realized I am just now learning how to play well, and what it is my soul enjoys.

When I was young, I placed a heavy weight of responsibility on my shoulders, but it was mixed with deep insecurities and uncertainty.

Yet, I worked hard to never be “ a burden”. So, I went through school and college dutifully maintaining high GPAs. I then entered the work force and was compelled to be highly successful. So work consumed me – and somewhere along the way I lost my soul, and my ability to play.

Almost like the dog, I had forgotten my true self behind the commitments of duty, and striving at high levels.

My play, or what I thought was play at the time was masked behind “partying” – which was more like blowing off steam in acts of hedonism. Simply not healthy. It was burning the candle at both ends and nearly destroying myself in the process – and definitely to a large degree adding to the loss of self.

And so, like this dog, I carry an inner fear that seems to be triggered during the most simplest attempts to go out and do play.

Obviously, this is not something I enjoy, or fully understand, but I have begun to see this part of me as the “child” that got lost along the way.

I was in large part a frightened, insecure kid who used to pile his stuffed animals all over himself at night to feel safe. Growing up I never truly felt secure, and stable. Various reasons for this, but this little boy still shows up at times inside a nearly 50 year old man, because the issues behind it never got addressed. Rather, I shoved them behind duty and obligation.

Hebrews 11:8 describes Abraham’s faith to go to an unknown place “by faith” – not duty. A place that would become his home, and he did it by keeping his eyes on an unseen city with real eternal foundations, built by God.

This speaks to me because this “home” is our healing – it’s heaven – it’s going back to our true selves and our original design. For God is our healer.

It’s a powerful true story of a man living and walking by faith. Clearly not allowing his fears to hold him back and to “play it safe”. Rather, it’s a bold move, to head out on an adventure with God and to be changed in the process.

This is what I desire – to go by faith wherever God leads, and during the process, for Him to reveal and heal every part of me until He brings me home.

However, fear wants to prevent and hinder all of this. And so, as I walk with God, my faith grows, my trust grows, and my love for Him grows. My moving out also grows, because these truths propel me to do so. They are greater than my fears. And I know I am healing.

The dog in the show was eventually made better by the love, patience, and wisdom of the trainer. He helped the dog rediscover who he was at his core and how to play again as his unhealthy fears diminished.

My forgotten self is also being healed through God’s tender care, love, patience, and grace. He is teaching me to play well through His healing, and in my healing I am discovering who I truly am – what my soul loves, what my heart desires, and reclaiming what was lost along the way. It’s a process of learning how to love, live, work, and play well in faith and without the irrational fears.

For Kingdom play always comes with victory – victories of healing.

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