Monopolized

“Mom, can we play Monopoly?”

It was such a simple request, one M had made off and on since he’d played a simple version at his friend’s house. We’d never had a chance, even with the summer spread open for us. Each day seemed to pack itself as quickly as an empty beach on a hot afternoon. But today, today was open. Well, open except for the list.

The thing that gets me about the summer is that very openness. I always have this feeling that time is passing without being properly used, since there is so much of it, and we can sometimes (okay, often) fritter away whole mornings in our pjs. So this summer, I sat down in the first days and came up with a list of all the fun things I wanted us to do to have a well-spent summer.

Monopoly was not on that list.

I could feel myself seize up. I have plans, I wanted to tell M. Remember how we made plans? But that expectant little face, full of interest and excitement, is hard to turn down, so we unearthed Monopoly from the game cabinet and set it up across the kitchen table and proceeded to spend the bulk of the day enbroiled in our game, with K fetching our properties and filing the money and me slowing adding rules as I remembered them. In fact, we spent the better part of a week on series of games, dropping in and out of them as other activities allowed. On one particularly domestic afternoon, I snapped beans through the game as K whisked the ends into the compost. It was so much fun, even if there was nothing to cross off my list at the end of the week.

The fun started, though, with my willingness to let go of my plans, of my control, of the fear/need I have about the proper care and use of time. Truly: it’s not my time. I may perceive it that way, because I do choose how to use it, but my days are granted by God, and I return once more to the verse from Jeremiah: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (19:11) I know the plans I have. Not the plans Diana has, the ones Diana knows. And sometimes, when I’m in good and constant prayer, I’m sure these plans align. But when I’m panicked, when I’m preoccupied, when I’m fearful–when I’m making those lists and checking them twice–they’re more likely to keep me from the plans God has for me, the ends for prosperity and hope and the future that may only be accessed by those plans (and could, sadly enough, be missed entirely by following my own).

We’ve had an amazing summer already, with memory-making experiences both on and off the list. And the list does have its usefulness. It’s been great for planning, for ideas, for keeping in mind all the opportunities we could have. But it’s also been great for reminding me who should really be in control: the One who sees everything, the One with the master list–often full of things like bike riding and roly-poly catching and Monopoly, things I never knew to put down. As our last month fills up and no doubt passes in a blink, I pray for loose hands and open eyes, for a heart that seeks to share with the kids the most important lesson that the summer may have: God knows more than Mom, always. If I can get that through, first to myself, then to them, that will be a summer well-spent.

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