Last week was probably the worse week of my life. Actually the last month have been absolutely miserable, but God has been gracious and faithful to show me so much about himself through this time. One of these moments happened immediately following my grandma’s visitation.
Right after leaving the visitation, my aunt, her two daughters, and I got into her car where my aunt told us we had an important stop to make before heading to the farm. By this point we were emotionally and physically exhausted and just wanted to go home, have dinner, and relax. The thought of another draining task exhausted us even more, yet we knew things had to be done and agreed to the stop.
She pulled out of the funeral home parking lot, went around the block, and pulled into the playground. One of her daughters exclaimed “are we going swinging?!” My aunt quickly replied “yes, we need to swing.” We pulled in and went running for the swings and climbing for the slides. It was a small break of joy amidst our suffering.
Afterwards I reflected on this small, but special moment and realized how much having fun together brings a family together. To my extended family, stopping at a favorite park to have fun and enjoy each other was not a foreign concept; it was part of their family culture. This meant that in the middle of suffering they could come together and find relief and joy. They talked to one another, they knew what each other needed without it being spoken, they could find joy in suffering together. In contrast, my immediate family, who doesn’t have a culture of fun, barely spoke to one another. There was no fun in the midst of suffering; just suffering in silence, alone.
Having fun is universal. Having a culture of fun isn't limited to our families it extends into our work and community. And, as I look towards the summer months where my community slows down and purposely gets outside, it's impressed on me the importance of having fun. When we have fun together, we get to know one another. We bond deeply. We see what brings laughter to each other. As we learn to have fun together, we better know how to handle suffering together.