If you were ever a kid, have kids or have witnessed kids than you are familiar with the childhood past-time of ‘playing house’. The idea is simple and typically rises out of children naturally and without any lessons or urging by adults and parents.
As a child I was close to my cousins but I was a rarity given that I was a boy and most of my cousins were girls. As such I was designated the role of “husband”. The nature of the game is that the roles are determined by your context and experience. In our context, as the husband, my role was to leave and go to work. That was pretty much it. The man in my context was usually not around but culture had dictated that a certain role is played by man and therefore there must be one and so I was it and as I said my task was simply to get up and go to work and come home at the end of the day.
Generally speaking it was the girls who were in charge of everything which really was reflective of of our context and environment. We all grew up in single-mother households where men were transitional. The mothers had to be in charge, there was no other option and so in our game of house the mother’s were in charge as well.
What were we doing? We were little people learning how to be big people through play. We had fun. We were not aware of gender roles, appropriate or otherwise, we were simply acting out what we saw around us.
As a parent, uncle, adult I have witnessed this phenomena of ‘playing house’ and it always makes me smile. I appreciate the creativity and the effort of it all and I also recognize that despite all the work these kids have not come even remotely close to what it means to be an adult. It doesn’t matter. What mattered to me watching the kids was that they were enjoying themselves…that they were practicing to be what they would one day become based upon the models they had before them. What mattered to me as a kid was that I had fun as I attempted to practice at being the man I was supposed to become based on the models I had before me.
I wonder sometimes if God looks at us and sees something similar. Lots of unformed children playing at house. I wonder if our efforts at church, various other forms of worship, prayer, marriage and life in general are a form of ‘playing house’ as we seek to become…
What we are doing is based on how we understand and interpret our model. What we are doing is not remotely what we are going to become but it matters that we are doing…that we are seeking to become. Unfortunately the consequences of our version of playing house can be significant. People can be hurt, die, damaged in all sorts of ways.
Is it humiliating to have our attempts at life and worship described this way? Maybe it is, in fact, humbling…and this is not necessarily a bad thing.