Gold stars and God
I am a recovering self-helpie. I read thousands of books trying to be better and become more enlightened. It was full-time work to become a “guru” and I took it seriously. Feeling broken led me to always find God. And in a way, wanting to become better and get fixed was a tradition I was taught in church at a very early age. It’s totally cool to want to be a better human being, to grow and evolve and learn from “mistakes” or experiences to change. But it felt heavy. I wanted some sort of a reward. A gold star for all the work I was putting in in becoming “spiritual,” yet no star seemed to be occurring. The more I tried to be helped, the more I felt like I was in need of being fixed. Round and round I went on my own little ferris wheel. Then something happened. The ferris wheel stopped and I landed on rock bottom hard.
I hated God. I hated that I wasn’t getting any rewards for bettering myself. I spent so many hours reading all the books to become a “better me.” And for what? More misery? Screw this! What am I doing all this work for? (As I placed my hand on my forehead in dramatic fashion)
The bottom was hard, but also oddly freeing. I didn’t have to be happy, or get better, it already sucked. When I would usually hear the normal question “How are you?” I would just snuff it off, or try and find a spiritual way of saying “I’m at rock bottom.” But now, on rock bottom, I would simply say “I am not that great.”
Life became easier. There was nothing to attain except getting out of bed and being honest, and it seemed to feel better. Day by day, I found that there was nothing to become. I didn’t have to be better, I just had to show up to the play called life. Is it this simple? God became funny. God became my playmate. I didn’t need to do anything to get a reward. It’s just a fun game that I get to play and view any which way I choose.
Life is hard. Life is easy. Life is what it is. Play anyway. Doing things to be better and get rewards is not fun. It feels hard. It feels like I was never going anywhere, and always playing hide and seek with my own darn self. Life is messy. I mess up. I fall down. The world doesn’t end, and laughter is always free. I had my laughter at rock bottom. I had the ability to find the humor even when life truly sucked. Then I saw….
God only wants us to play for the purest reason. Because it feels good. We don’t have to be the best sharer in the sandbox or build the best sandcastle. We simply just need to show up and be ourselves. We are the gold stars.
Play on, my friends. Be the gold star you are so desperately trying to “get”- I triple dog dare you.
(Renowned speaker and author Jenny Ward has been seen across the country bringing play, work/life balance and parent workshops to Visa, You Tube, Merrill Lynch, Girl Scouts, YMCA, Stanford and numerous other corporations and non profits. Her individual clients have enjoyed working with Jenny on single parenting, play, stress eradication and play based parenting for over 8 years. Jenny’s work can be seen on DOVE, San Francisco Times, Today’s MAMA, Nick for Kids, and numerous other publications.)
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