My Passive Distraction Inactive Attraction

In the years just before I was married, I was a Youth Minister in a small church located in the Columbia River Gorge.  At that time I struggled with working too hard and too much.  I lived and breathed my job and found it difficult to know when work stopped and play began.  At some point I saved up enough money to purchase a mountain bike I'd been dreaming about for quite a while.  After buying the bike, I noticed on the part that connects the handle bars to the rest of the bike it said:  "All work and no play is no good at all."  To me, that was a sign from God to take time off from work and have some plain old fun.  I did too.  I loved mountain biking.

As a mother, I find myself in a similar circumstance as in my first job.  It's hard to know when work stops and play begins.  In fact, playing with my children seems like work and it's hard to find time away from them.  So, I have found myself seeking to be entertained.  Instead of  exploring mountain biking trails, I jump around various websites and Face Book.  I can actually feel entitled to sit and be entertained at times.  After I make a meal, vacuum the floor, clean the toilet, whatever else I do, then I feel like I deserve a break.  However, it is an inactive, distraction rather than a true break.  Not only that, my children feel the same entitlement and actively seek to be inactively gazing into the mesmerizing images that flash across whatever screen is in front of them. 

There was very little T.V. watching during our last vacation.  I, in fact, did not watch any T.V. and did not get on the computer once.  Yet it was very relaxing and energizing.  We got up early each morning and our days were full of activity such as snorkeling, swimming, washing sand out of our hair, climbing up and down five flights of stairs, sipping the daily special from the Tiki Bar and enjoying each other's company.  We, in the truest sense of the word, played.

All work and no play is no good at all.  However, play should be active.  I read this today from a book written in 1955 called Beginning at Home: the challenge of Christian Parenthood.  Mary Perkins writes: 
It would seem...the more passive the form of entertainment or recreation the less it has any legitimate place in normal living.  The proper role of most "good" or "harmless" television shows, radio programs, detective stories, movies, etc., is that of soothing, amusing and entertaining invalids or shut-ins or very elderly people, or those who are so completely exhausted by inhuman forms of work or the inhuman strains of modern life that they do not have the energy for true recreation.
She goes on to say, "most of us parents think that we are in this last condition.  But let us make sure that there is nothing that we can do to increase our energy, before we entirely give up the idea of trying to play with our children!"

Wow.  Those are some pretty harsh words.  Especially when read from my place in the 2000s rather than the 1950s.  I live in time when passive entertainment reigns supreme.  Just look at the Black Friday ads: televisions, dvd players, gaming systems, ipods, computers.  The problem I have is breaking the habit.  I'm not sure I'd go so far as to throw out passive entertainment entirely, but I think I, and my family, can cut out a considerable amount.

Mary Perkins has something to say about this:
One difficulty here is, of course, that most of us have to contend with our long-established bad habits of seeking distraction in some more or less passive form of entertainment rather than in true recreation. Work and play are the same for the Wisdom of God...But for us human beings, work is basically differentiated from play by the fact that in working we have a motive beyond the activity itself while in playing we have no other explicit, conscious motive than that of doing for fun what we are doing.
Play or recreation, however, should not be primarily passive, any more than should work. We are made in the image of God who is pure Act.  We are made primarily to act; rest is only necessary because of the weakness of our physical nature.  Recreation and play should, therefore, delightfully exercise our powers, especially those unused by our day's work.
(Perkins includes reading, dancing, singing, drawing, gardening, pottery, making up stories or plays, acting, and carpentry work as forms of play and recreation.)

Perkin's words are a challenge to me, to say the least.  For many years now I have prayed for more energy.  Mommys need energy for work and play.  My prayers are steadily being answered.  My thyroid which was once giving me problems is no longer, my low levels of vitamin D have been normalized, I'm taking fish oil and a daily vitamin, and have started a Fit Yummy Mummy lifestyle which includes exercise and supportive eating (more on this later).  Now might be the time I begin to conquer my bad recreational habits.  This may take years!

CLICK HERE to read Beginning at Home online!  It must be out of print but I'm not sure.


  1. I really enjoyed this post Holly! So good to have you blogging again!


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