I’m not much of a game player myself, but when a friend wants to play board games for her birthday, I’m all in…dragging a big load of leftover fear and shame along with me. {I’m not kidding…that’s how real this stuff is!} Fear of feeling or looking “stupid” has cramped my life for longer than I care to admit…and when it comes to board games, I remember exactly when the fun came to a screeching halt.

Of course, it wasn’t the game itself that caused my shame. {It was just a game, for cryin’ out loud!} I know now that it had more to do with my interpretation of the atmosphere around the table. It was a response I would carry with me from game to game in childhood, with the exception of Uncle Wiggly, Candy Land, the Merry Milkman, and other luck-of-the-draw-or-spin kind of games. And even into adulthood, I made quite sure to avoid games that would require thought or strategy or artistic ability or a competitive nature, i.e. just about every game on the planet.

I’m not really much of a game person, I would say. I don’t really like board games all that much, but thanks anyway. As I learned to be more honest with myself and others, I began to bravely put the truth out there and admit that I actually hate board games…then kept right on avoiding them. That’s what we say and do when we’re scared to death of making a “wrong” move or giving a “stupid” answer. It’s how we protect ourselves from feeling embarrassed or being laughed at…even though it also means we rob ourselves of all the fun we could be having if we weren’t so busy doing whatever it is we do to prevent our insecurities from showing.

After all, the whole point of playing games is to relax and have fun together. To kid around. Laugh out loud. First, at ourselves…then with each other. And that’s exactly what we did this past Sunday at the ACTS House. It’s what the “birthday girl” wanted. She wanted to connect. She thought board games would be a great way to do that. So that’s what we did.

And guess what…she was RIGHT! Regardless of whether we came to the table loving board games or hating them…liking the idea or not so much…all in and eager to get started or more on the fringe and slow to jump in…not a single one of us left feeling the same as we did when the games began. And here’s why…there was love around the table. There was consideration for each other, especially for our honoree. We wanted to celebrate her…and to honor how she wanted to celebrate her birthday.

 

She simply wanted to connect. Nothing fancy. No hoopla. Just a few games around the table. The kind people play when they want to be together and get to know each other better...more than win or impress. And you know what? I think she got her wish. And at the same time she honored us with her vulnerable and straightforward request.

We were invited to share a deeply personal birthday wish, and in return, received the gift of feeling connected, known, and celebrated with her. Kind of like going home with the best party favor ever…and the promise of more good times together.

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