For some reason, while I was taking my in-laws to the airport last week, I made a comment about how I was a “rule follower.” I was a little surprised that they seemed very surprised that I thought this about myself. They didn’t share my assessment. It might have something to do with a couple maneuvers I made to get them to the airport on time, claiming that certain traffic laws were merely suggestions. At any rate, I guess I should explain that even though I many not agree with or follow certain rules, there are a couple rules I have about myself that I can’t seem to not follow, even though they aren’t necessarily based in reality or contribute to healthy, whole-hearted living.
Lately, I have been writing about finding my “skip” again. Learning how to “play” and live a light-hearted and joyful everyday life. I’d say I am making a little progress, in case you were wondering how it’s going.
But I realized that I have established a couple of Rules when it comes to my “play-time.” When I keep these rules, I find it hard to truly engage, relax, and fully enjoy what I am doing and who I am doing it with.
One of the rules is for me, and I have mentioned it before. This rule tells me that I have to earn the right to play. It’s the Cinderella syndrome: until I have scrubbed the floors, dusted, vacuumed, mowed, helped kids with homework, cooked dinner, sold 3 houses, and helped out at church, I can’t go to the Ball. And if somehow I managed to get there, but hadn’t finished all my tasks, I couldn’t dare enjoy myself while I was there. I had to think about all that wasn’t done yet and all I had yet to do. I had to hold on to the guilt of taking care of myself and letting somethings go. I couldn’t dare just admit that I simply can’t keep the pace I have set for myself. I had to admit that I wasn’t Wonder Woman and that once in awhile I just had to take a break and let my hair down, and no one was going to suffer. I don’t know where I got this rule exactly. But I have been letting the rule rule me for far too long. It’s time for an uprising.
The other rule I have is for you, for my friends, family and people who I “play” with. This one can be illustrated with a real-life example from my past. Several, as in about 10-15 years ago, I organized a game to play with a group of our friends. I am from Napa, as many of you know, and this was a Napa Valley board game. I had purchased the wines from the wineries on the board that one might land on, as well as educational information about the wines that, naturally, they would want to learn about with acute attentiveness on a Friday night…with a large group of friends….while drinking wine. Needless to say, my expectations of the evening did not end up matching the reality of it. But boy, they were having a blast! They were not, however, cooperating with my rules about how they were supposed to be having this so called “fun”. I remember being quite incensed. Wounded. Hurt. Taking it personally and pouting that they weren’t “doing it right” (read: “doing it my way”). I didn’t enjoy myself at all because they weren’t playing by my rules.
When I follow such a rule, I give other people the power to ruin my day–to steal my joy, as I often put it.
And, I might add, I will not be invited to many events that require a light-hearted, easy going, relaxed presence.
It hurts everyone when I try to control other people and dictate their manner of fun-ness. No one can truly engage in life-giving play when Mrs. Bossy Pants is around. Especially me.
Since, at my core of cores, I don’t really like rules, may I make a suggestion?
Whatever rules you are following, that you have made up from the broken, wounded, controlling, fearful, anxious places in your soul, annul them today.
Are they about how you give or are willing to receive love? How you speak to others and yourself? How you share? How you think about yourself, or God or others? What you expect from your life and the people in it? Whatever rules you have been playing by, if they rob you of the ability to live peaceful, happy, and free, obliterate them. Declare them invalid.
THESE RULES WERE MADE TO BE BROKEN.