No swimming

th-18There’s been a lot of dialogue surrounding fun — particularly in light of my struggle to understand why and how fun eludes me as it does.

Those of us who have difficulty with the request to “have fun” can feel like our minds have completely rebelled against fun. The idea of having fun or the lack thereof can even make some of us anxious.

Please note:

  • I am not referencing depression, which is the sort of thing that you cannot just “snap out of.” Depression is a mental illness and suggestions from others that you are “just feeling sorry for yourself” can be extremely dangerous. If you are struggling with depression and regardless of all of those who want to help, you need to seek professional assistance.
  • I am also not suggesting that if you are feeling sad that somehow you need to reverse your feelings and just “be happy” just because someone told you to be.

But for all of us who struggle with the experience of fun because of the environment that we grew up in, or the influencers in our lives, or our overindulgence in guilt and judgment, there is no such thing as a little victory. This is because every accomplishment toward experiencing fun is a very big victory.

While everyday, routine fun comes naturally to most people, for some of us it is a much harder feat (making “everyday fun” rather an oxymoron). It takes more time for us to simplify our lives, to step out of ourselves, and get beyond what we are thinking. In order to approach this thing called fun, we have to affect our routine patterns of life like giving up that extra cup of coffee in order to relax, or stand up and stretch our muscles to break the concentration or focus on a specific subject. Before we can accept the motivating desire to face into fun, sometimes people like me have to lighten up by doing all three: decline the unnecessary but bodily need for more caffeine, cause my heart to step into the beat by moving from my reclining attitude to one of aerobic flexibility, and take a turn around a city block or two.

People do not understand that those who struggle with having fun are driven by fears — fears take over when there is a reason to connect with someone else. Our fears can impact even the smallest pleasures in life like hanging out with friends, participating in an activity and even enjoying intimacy.

We know that fun can make our lives dramatically different. But sometimes we need an open mind and continuous support, which includes the challenge of helping us put into words what’s going on in our minds, especially when we know that not everyone around us feels the same way. It is important that people understand our negative approach to life before asking us to do a complete reversal. It is not that you have to see through our dark-colored glasses; just understand that it is going to take us a longer time to adjust to the sunlight.

And just because there are a lot of us who truly do want to have fun but have difficulty doing so, there is not one strategy that works for all. I am discovering my path to fun is to overcome resistance by cutting down on my caffeine and sugar intake. I am not suggesting my path is the best for anyone but me. But I am suggesting that everyone does have a best path. It is a matter of disclosing to others and to yourself the need for simplicity and the resulting fun that can follow. We need to allow people to come into our lives, walk alongside of us, and understand that there is a need for patience as we begin to connect. We have to learn to give ourselves permission to have fun, reach out and connect with people who truly want us to experience fun, and, of course, who want to have fun with us.

And it is okay to talk about our shortcomings, to understand that we are not alone. We need to make sure there are people who understand our comfortable tendency to want to be left in our aloneness — and ask them to never leave us to ourselves. It is a weakness to isolate ourselves in our own thoughts and away from interactions, but it is not a moral shortcoming. We did not bring the lack of fun in our lives on ourselves. And understanding that is a pretty powerful beginning to finding fun with all of the wonderful people who care about us.

Everybody, get into the pool! There is so much more to having fun than what meets the eye.

th-19Click on the picture for a free download of “Dance!” a duet with Michael W. Smith off my Casual Crimes album that should put a little dance into your step. Might even be fun!

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6 Responses to No swimming

  1. Mark Seguin says:

    “It is important that people understand our negative approach to life before asking us to do a complete reversal. It is not that you have to see through our dark-colored glasses; just understand that it is going to take us a longer time to adjust to the sunlight.” Amen and I’ll add please consider reading a very good book to help grow in that understanding: By Dr. Robert Rohm and the DISC Method of Understanding Personality Types.

  2. God sends us things from heaven every single day. They come in the form of events that happen, people we meet, the weather, and so forth.
    Everything comes from God… [and] we get to decide how we will experience what occurs to us in life.

    It’s not what happens to us in life; it’s how we decide to interpret what happens to us.
    If we are determined that all is for the best, then all will be for the best. If we make up our mind that our life is terrible, then we will experience a life that is terrible. It’s up to us to decide.

    It’s all in how we decide to see things in our lives. I want to encourage us all to see everything as good. Whatever God sends our way is a blessing, even if in disguise. The next time something comes out of left field and you are left asking, “What is this?” make sure to answer, “It is good.”

    (Excerpted from todays Holy Land Moments Daily Devotional: http://www.holylandmoments.org/devotionals/what-is-this)

  3. Kathy Willis says:

    John – you have an incredible amount of courage to share this all with us. You can rest easy… you have accomplished much..

  4. greg Krejci says:

    I understand all this completely. When I was 10 my parents divorced and I was the oldest of six. As a rare exception, my father ended up with custody of all six kids. I, the oldest, was handed the duties of running the house and needing the affirmation of the father, I took on the task with great abandon. I did a great job.In the process I got the praise of my father that I longed for but lost alot of fun. Later, with my own kids, I struggled terribly with balancing responsibility with fun. The struggle exemplified when my kids, older and out of the home, would kiddingly say that I could develope my own video game called ChoreQuest with me as the ChoreMaster. With two still at home I am working alot harder at having more fun and letting the rest just slide.

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