Lessons About Identity from Play-Doh

By August 15, 2019 Blog

It hit me last night. You see, my girls LOVE Play-Doh, and my mom was kind enough to buy them some to bring back to our house.

I, on the other hand, have a love-hate relationship with Play-Doh. Oh, I appreciate the colors and the ability to practice creativity. You can make it into fun shapes with a cookie cutter or even on your own. But here’s the thing, I do not believe in mixing Play-Doh colors! It may be fun for a hot second where you can see it swirl in, but then you’re left with some weird brownish, grayish color, and you lose all the wonder of Play-Doh. There are rules that should be followed so that you can play with the moldable clay most effectively.

But my girls don’t get that. I tried for a week to help keep the colors separate. Only play with one color at a time. Put one away if you want to get another one out. Then it happened. I let them have free-reign without being all up in their grill, and they mixed the colors—all four of them.

Oh, the disaster!

But you know what, my girls don’t care. I realized I’m the only one who actually cares. That’s when it hit me that sometimes in oh so subtle ways, I try to force my expectations and preferences onto my girls.

This isn’t unique to fostering, but I think it’s something we must be aware of.

My girls did not grow up in the same culture or environment that I did. I am steady, someone without high highs and low lows. My girls…well, they have so much spunk!

It provides so much laughter in our home as they tell stories with so much emotion that it’s almost so much that you can hardly understand what’s happening. But, that’s okay because they are passionate about what they are sharing. They will grow in their communication. Their personalities do not need to match my own.

Oh, they will naturally pick up some of our phrases as they hear them. My husband has been playing restaurant with them and says, “Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?” when they “pull up to the drive-thru,” but I’m sure they have no idea about this 90s reference. Even so, they say it now.

I’m not talking about those funny moments. I’m talking about those Play-Doh moments. Sometimes I unintentionally force my way. I direct in a way that doesn’t encourage their strengths but rather reinforce my own. This may seem like no big deal, but I think it actually may be more significant than we think.

I want to communicate to my girls that they were fearfully and wonderfully made by the God of the Universe! When I say that your preferences are not correct and only mine are, I subtly am affirming that my ways are best—that God prefers my strengths, not yours.

So, here’s to mixed Play-Doh and passionate storytelling! I will affirm that God has made them exactly who He wanted them to be, and for that, I am thankful.

Oh, there will still be rules and guidelines but for things like looking both ways before they cross the road or going to bed at a reasonable time—rules that are needed for their safety and health.

Not for Play-Doh.

And whether they stay with us for a little or a long time, they will know that God does not make mistakes. He is a good Creator who knows exactly what He’s doing.

Holly Gnuse

Holly grew up with a heart for adoption but didn’t know much about foster care. God used an internship with a local child welfare agency to make her aware. Coupling that experience with knowing the joy of the Gospel, Holly is passionate about connecting the local church to the foster care community. Holly and her husband, Scott, were married in December 2013 and are enjoying the crazy adventure of life together.

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