Enjoying more than just the game

Today’s contributor, an avid board gamer, shares how rethinking his motives at the game table from a spiritual perspective has brought a fuller sense of joy and satisfaction to his activities.

Most people have some sort of hobby; mine is board games. Playing, collecting, and even just researching a new board game are all fun for me! At one point, I had started going to a weekly meetup in my city so I could play more. After a while, though, I was no longer having fun.

Finally, as I was driving to another meetup one evening, I realized that my main motive for going was just to devour more and more games. I had become consumed, and the realization was truly sobering. How had I let my joy at gathering with friends become an excessive, almost compulsive effort to just get games in?

I saw that I had gotten confused about where real satisfaction comes from. So I pulled the car over in a nearby neighborhood and started to pray. This was a natural response for me because I’d seen throughout my life that prayer that reflects a deep willingness to hear, feel, and trust God is always helpful.

Almost immediately, a passage by an author I love, Mary Baker Eddy, came to thought. In a warm letter to a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, that had given a very thoughtful financial gift to another Christian Science church, she wrote: “Goodness never fails to receive its reward, for goodness makes life a blessing. As an active portion of one stupendous whole, goodness identifies man with universal good. Thus may each member of this church rise above the oft-repeated inquiry, What am I? to the scientific response: I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 165).

I saw that this clearly laid out a basis for true satisfaction: not through trying to get stuff or consume activities, but in giving! All of a sudden, I thought, “Why not spend this evening focused on giving at the game table?” I was eager to see if I could do this.

The Gospel of John records Jesus as saying: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (13:34, 35). The love Jesus had for God, and God’s love for His entire creation, were reflected in Jesus’ love for others. This love wasn’t simply being a kind person; it was having a clear perception of others as God knows us all, as the spiritual expressions of divine Spirit. This divinely impelled love brought healing and redemption to countless people.

That love is without limit, because its source, God, divine Love, is limitless. And His love is expressed in all of God’s spiritual sons and daughters, and is not dependent on certain activities or people. It is here today for all of us.

That night, my goal was to live love, rather than just get through as many games as I could. And it turned out to be a wonderful evening.

One particular incident still stands out to me: In the middle of a game, one person got very angry, declaring that he wished he hadn’t sunk his time into playing. In situations like this before, I’d gotten very nervous and been unsure how to handle them. But this evening I felt guided by Christly, healing love in my response. Afterward, this person thanked me for how I handled the incident and said he appreciated getting to play in such a calm, inclusive atmosphere.

The rest of the evening felt markedly friendly, and satisfying, too. And since then, I’ve felt a greater sense of peace in social gatherings. It’s been a joy to plan evenings based around living love, welcoming new and old friends, and seeing them through that lens of Spirit as God’s expressions. I still play games, but it’s not my primary goal. And I must say, I feel a much more present sense of wholeness and happiness than I ever did before.

Clearly, working through my fixation on playing games is a pretty small issue given all that’s going on in the world. But more and more I’m realizing that how we face the little things in life – whether a personal hobby, how we interact in our relationships, how we behave at work, or how we think about government – all add up to how much good we’re contributing to the world we share. And that is worth paying attention to.

Our fundamental purpose as God’s children is to express God – to let His goodness shine in and through us. In one of her poems, Mrs. Eddy wrote, “Who doth His will – His likeness still – / Is satisfied” (“Poems,” p. 79). Each of us can let a desire to shine with the love of God, which brings a deeper sense of truth, health, and happiness, motivate us in all our activities.

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