Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lessons from Minecraft? Seriously?

Soon Christmas will be over, the presents will have all been opened, and new toys will fill the house. It's time for the question that I dread so much...

Sung with the excitement of a group of enthusiastic Christmas carollers,

"Mommy, will you play with us?"

Now, before you cast stones and vote me "Worst Mom of the Year," let me explain. Well, it's more of a confession than an explanation.

I am a creative freak. I love coming up with fun ideas that make my children smile or helping them learn and grow. I love planning and organizing fun activities and parties that create lifetime happy memories for our family. I even love board games and badminton and cornhole and volleyball. But what is my Achilles heel? What is the dent in my Super Mommy armor... The Kryptonite that decays my mommy powers and rips my super cape to shreds?

Sitting in the floor and simply playing with my children... Hot Wheels cars, action figures, wooden train sets. I stink at pretend play!

I do play with my children, but so often it is on my terms. More "grown up" style play. I can never figure out what the little army guy is supposed to say. I have no clue what to do with cars other than make them go "vroom" and drive them back and forth. Not exactly fun and entertaining for me or the children. And when I try to go beyond "vroom, vroom," my kids look at me funny. Apparently, they are also aware of my lack of child-play pretend skills.

A few months ago, my oldest child got a new video game. All three children seemed to really enjoy it. But then I heard those fearsome words.

"Mom, come play with us!"

I put it off as long as I could, but then I figured I would give it a try. (That's what good mommies, are supposed to do, right?) And so, my Minecraft adventure began.

The graphics in the game were pitiful. The people, trees, animals, and supplies were all very "block-ish." The zombies, spiders, and bad guys were so hilariously pathetic that even a young child would have a tough time fearing them. But as I observed the game, I noticed it had qualities that I might be able to work with. It required planning and creativity. (That's right up my alley!) It required very little gaming skills... And no pretending! Maybe I had finally found something I could play with the kids without feeling totally out of place.

Little did I realize the lessons that were in store for me.

Here are the basics of the game for those who are not familiar:
You have to build a house, a safe place to stay. In order to build, you have to mine for supplies. Bad guys come out at night. That's why you need the house. Bad guys also come out in the mines, so you have to be careful. You also have to make sure to eat every now and then. Oh, and don't fall in lava.

Mine, build, and watch out for bad guys. Got it?

I was playing with the children and everyone was happy. I began exploring around the game. Mountains, trees, cows, sheep, flowers, jungle, mines...

I loved exploring, but I began noticing the sunlight fading in the game. The children noticed I had not even started building a house. When night would fall, I would be totally unprotected. They, however, had spent their time mining, chopping trees, and building their safe place. I didn't even have a sword or weapon for protection, yet! I was a sitting duck while they were ready for the dark.

Lesson 1... Wise women BUILD

Proverbs 14:1 "Every wise woman buildeth her house:
but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands."
I am not one to spiritualize everything, but I couldn't help but think of the applications. In the game, I wandered around without focusing on my goal. My curiosity led me astray. I was distracted. Before I knew it, the battle was coming and I was unprepared.
As a wife and mom, it is easy to get distracted from my priorities and goals. This world has many trinkets to dangle in front of us to catch our eyes. Sometimes it is even good and noble things that get us out of focus. What are my priorities?
Maturity in Christ
Making a Home
Mentoring Others
(That lovely list didn't come from my brain. I read a great book 18 years ago, and the author's beautifully alliterated list has stuck with me since then.)
Those five things are what we are building and working on... or at least that is what we are supposed to be building.

Lesson 2... Wise women build their OWN houses

When the children noticed my dilemma of being homeless, they offered me shelter in their homes. I couldn't help but notice how nice their house was, or what things I would have done differently. As I explored their houses, I began critiquing. I thought the way they did some things was not very wise. Then I realized they were working toward a greater goal. I was judging unfinished work in the homes of others when my house wasn't even built!

Proverbs 14:1 "Every wise woman buildeth HER house..." (emphasis mine)
It is wise to seek counsel from others on building our houses, but there is such a temptation to compare houses. Comparing is a distraction from building our own houses.

Lesson 3... Wise women build with the right materials

Ok, so I had some house building ideas. I went chopping and mining instead of exploring. That's when I learned about the different materials. Sand, block, wood, cobblestone, etc. I needed the right materials to make the right things. Some materials made a better, more effective, and stronger product. That's pretty important to know because the exploding bad guys can do a lot of damage to poorly built houses!

And the same with our houses. We should use only the best materials to build. Sure, there are methods and materials that can make a house, but is it the best? Everything we do in building our houses... is it the best material possible? Have we given it our all? There is a dark world out there and lots of bad guys. Some want to inhialate the home. Others shoot darts at the vulerable and weak. Have we built a house that is prepared for battle? Or are we sliding by with what is "good enough?"

Another thing I noticed very quickly: It is impossible to build with materials I don't have. I really want to build children of strong faith, but do I have it myself? I want my children to have hearts of service. How is my service? I want my children to intimately know God and His Word, and be faithful in devotions and study. I want them to be content. I want them to be thankful and respectful and kind and compassionate. But I cannot work toward building those things in their lives if they do not exist in my own.

So just like in the game, I have to go digging and searching to get the materials for myself.

Lesson 4... Wise women don't destroy the house

Proverbs 14:1 "... but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands."

As I continued to play the game, I noticed something else. To mine an item took more effort than to destroy something I had built. It took several swings to mine something, and only a swift whack to remove something.

It takes time, patience, and effort to build our houses, but only a few careless words to tear things down. A bad attitude, thoughtless actions, selfishness blamed on a bad day or little sleep... what damage it can do, especially to little hearts.


Build your house... build YOUR OWN house. Inspect the materials you are using to build your house to make sure they are the best. And be careful about doing things that tear a house down. There are enemies all around looking for weaknesses in the house. Don't be the cause of those weaknesses.

Ultimately the best advice I can give: rely on the Lord's strength and guidance on your house building. Our ideas, designs, and methods are flawed, but His are perfect every time.

Psalm 127:1 "Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it:
except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."

We are called to BUILD. Let's let Him build through us.

-- Charity, Southern Asia

PS Time to go play with the children. Someone please tell me I am not the only one who struggles with kiddie pretend...


Christian Simple said...

We are TheFamily who are always with the Family. Thanks for the simple message that has a huge impact to everyone. God Bless!

Jen Bauer said...

I am so uncreative! I fear when my daughter asks to play barbies or my son with his cars!

Great application. Thanks! said...

I am one of those older moms with bad knees. If I get on the floor I may never get up.:) Charity, love your writing. You always bring it back to what is truly important.
Love you and your family.

Charity said...

Love you, ladies! To God be the glory... Hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

Lou Ann Keiser said...

Wonderful! Your lesson is so true. Our God-given priorities are what we're supposed to be building. Great writing and a great lesson. Thank you!

Amy Meyers said...

I'm terrible at kiddie pretend, but my husband makes up for my lack. :) Well-written article!