Want to make a kid laugh? Push him over.
Seriously. My kids love to roughhouse. Tickling, pillow fights, chasing, tossing, falling, jumping, tumbling, climbing – this is the stuff the good life is made of.
In Ryan’s absence I always notice a craving for roughness. “Tickle me!” “Chase me!” “Throw me!” “Pillow fight with me!” These are the common mantras when I’m parenting alone. Ryan, as dad, plays the key role in roughhousing on an average day. As mom, I’m less apt to thrash about. (Though I certainly can hold my own in horseplay – I was Leg Wrestler Champ in my house growing up.)
There are some obvious and less obvious ways roughhousing benefits kids. (See these two articles for more info: 6 Benefits of Roughhousing for Kids and In Praise of Roughhousing.) The physical play boosts fitness and improves mood. It also strengthens social skills and intelligence and helps kids develop ethics.
In parenting, in life, in faith, we often tend toward tidiness. Maybe the messiness of wrestling has just as much to offer.
Maybe children are on to something.
As adults we spend a lot of our time chasing, falling, jumping, tumbling, climbing, too. It just looks different. More like conflicts, doubts, trials, set-backs, failures. Perhaps, though, this is also the stuff the good life is made of. Maybe all that thrashing is good for us – eventually, strengthening our social skills, improving our intelligence, and forming our ethic.
And maybe a tidy, cautious faith isn’t very strong.
Jumping into risks, wrestling with doubts, tumbling through turbulent times – these are the things a strong faith is made of. It’s the path to faith, to belief. Like Joshua, we ought to wrestle our way to encountering God.
Even when we walk away limping, we’re better off for it.