There’s something about playing a game where the core of our very selves is spilled out for all to see. As a child, I hated playing games. Whenever I lost, it became a further reflection of what I already believed about myself–I’m a failure. For some, losing becomes a challenge to their self-belief that they are always the best at everything.
I’ve found this to be true in psychotherapy and in plain old parenting–you can learn a lot about a person’s ability to handle conflict, problem solve, express feelings, share, and to persevere, all from how they play a game. Every time my children and I play games, there are lessons taught and lessons learned. My oldest learns how to lose graciously, how to win with sportsmanship, and how to improve from practice. My youngest learns how to take turns, how to take on a new challenge, how to express feelings appropriately, and also how to lose.
The other day as we played the card game, War, my youngest was frustrated by his brother’s success. “That’s not fair! You have all the aces! You always get all the good cards!”
I responded by teaching them that there are no accidents in life; nothing happens by chance. I explained, “There are no accidents. If God wants you to have all aces, then you will. If He wants you to win, you will. The very cards that you get in the game are given to you by God for a reason.”
“Is that true even in car racing? God is in control of who wins?” he asked.
“Yes. Even in car racing. In fact, if you find that you are losing a lot, perhaps there is a lesson God wants you to learn.”
We talked about the opportunities for learning and growing in our faith that can occur even in a game. Even in seemingly unimportant circumstances, like playing a game, God is as work in us, teaching, refining, and molding us. Perhaps if we are struggling with losing, He wants us to learn how to accept losses with grace. Perhaps if we are gloating when we win, He wants us to learn how to love others even through those wins.
Life is full of lessons and opportunities to grow in faith and trust in God. It takes an open heart and open mind to be on alert for those opportunities, both for ourselves and for our children.
For more on playing games:
For my post on making your own game, click here.
An old favorite game that helps get the conversation going: The Ungame – Christian Version
There are tons of educational games out there and I love most of them. But for learning how to take turns, lose, be a good sport, handle anger and frustration, the old classics are great for that. Parker Brothers – Sorry, Trouble Board Game, and Uno Card Game are all perfect games that provide opportunities for those kind of lessons.
I’d love to hear about your teaching moments this week. Please share in the comments below. If you’d like to guest post and share a teaching moment, send me a message to gcfox1 at gmail dot com.
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