The above was said by a facilitator, Chris Pullaneyegem, at our 2-week training for overseas missionaries. He wasn’t talking about being a missionary, or about life in the Church, or about filling out expense reports (though with a right spirit, one can have fun with all of those). What he was talking about was a simple exercise where we were supposed to talk within small groups, opening ourselves and one another up to ideas, thoughts, experiences, and feelings. When he said, “You can have as much fun as you want to have,” he was just giving an invitation to participate. What I heard was a way of approaching everything in life – including entering another culture, meeting a new-to-us part of the Church, and even filling out expense reports.
You can have as much fun as you want to have. I’d like to tell my kids this each time that they get stuck in a whining rut. They get in a place where they don’t want to have fun, because they feel like negativity will get them care and attention, and being positive feels like giving something up. It’s true – if you don’t want to have fun, you won’t.
I’ve also been on a cleaning streak via http://www.FlyLady.net , a website that teaches how to organize house, schedule, exercising, and life routines with the idea that you can, indeed, have as much fun as you want to have. “FLY” stands for Finally Loving Yourself – giving yourself permission to be imperfect, to care for your daily needs, to do what really matters for you and for others. Cleaning might not sound like fun – but if I go into it saying, “ugh, this makes me miserable,” then yes, I will have exactly as much fun as I expect. So why not put on some music, set a timer, and plan for 15 minutes of “home blessing” (a.k.a. cleaning)!
Taking the “you can have as much fun as you want to have” attitude also tells you when something is really wrong. If you want to have fun, but you just can’t – maybe you feel like you’re under a dark cloud or like you’re all alone or maybe you feel like the relationships in your life aren’t bringing joy – then it’s a sign that you need to get help. Talk to a pastor, or a counsellor, or a trusted friend. If there isn’t any joy, it’s not something to feel guilty about – it’s a clue that you need to listen to.
Now that we’re missionaries, in a place with joys and challenges that we couldn’t have predicted, I still go back to those words: You can have as much fun as you want to have. And like that small-group discussion, I find that it a key to having fun is to be able to open up – to others, to myself, to God. I have more fun when I can be honest about things. I also have more fun when I open up, breaking the mold I’ve gotten comfortable with, and step out into a different world of fun. I laugh with the cleaning ladies when we can’t speak; I pick away at the fish head that has ended up on my dinner plate; I thank the lizard in my kitchen for eating the tiny ants.
You can expect more blog posts with this title, because I keep discovering fun and joys, and I keep discovering joy even in hardship. I keep finding that God has made a way where there is no way – so when I expect only disappointment, God surprises me with fun that I don’t want to miss.
You can have as much fun as you want to have. Open up to the wonders around you!