Find the funny in all things, and life will be fun.
I don’t know where I heard that in my youth, but it has stuck with me. I really really wish I could remember the context, but it is deeply hidden somewhere in my mid-forties Mom brain which must prioritize school lunch components that need to be purchased and after school activities that require speedy cross-town transportation.
I love funny. I laugh at weird things, things that sometimes make others uncomfortable, and I laugh at silly things. I laugh at Ellen and Chris Rock and Jon Stewart. I probably laugh the hardest at a loud noise from the ketchup bottle. I love what some others might call inappropriate humor. I love kid stories.
And, probably most importantly, I love laughing at myself. I laugh at myself when I dance and I know it’s bad (it’s always bad) and when I do something dumb like buy a car that’s a blue color I like and then drive it off the lot without knowing where the gas tank is. We have to laugh at ourselves. It’s one of the keys to true happiness, I think – not taking yourself too seriously while loving yourself just as you are.
My friends and family and work family are all a bunch of people who love to laugh, and I realized today – in the middle of a sermon about God’s Presence – that one of the ways that I know that God is present in my life is through laughter. My life is filled with people who find the funny. I am surrounded by just the right people at just the right time each day – and that is a daily miracle in my life. It’s true today and it’s been true my entire life.
When Audrey was an infant and still had cancer in her body, I remember my Dad praying for me as I held her in her rocking chair. He obviously prayed a lot for Audrey, and he prayed for my health and my energy and my peace. But the thing that surprised me was that he prayed that I would have joy.
Beth has peace. Beth has joy. Beth is filled with peace and joy.
He understood a truth I am only just now grasping a bit of. Joy is necessary. Funny is necessary. Laughter is necessary. We have to pursue them and we have to surround ourselves with them and we have to actively focus on them. They are keys to our healing. They are keys to full lives. In order to live our lives and accomplish what we need to, we can’t just think we’ll be happy when things are going our way. We have to decide to be happy and decide to pursue joy and decide to find funny when things are not going as planned.
One of the little running jokes with some of those funny people who surround me each day is “that’s one of the reasons.” I love camouflage pants…that’s one of the reasons you’re getting divorced. I’m a big meanie about deadlines…that’s one of the reasons I’m getting divorced. I don’t know what teams are playing in a big game and I can’t stand that some people plan their day around sports on TV…that’s one of the reasons you’re getting divorced. Every time I say it or someone else says it, I laugh out loud – and it feels awesome.
I have watched people look at us strangely when we joke about it, so I know that finding funny about this subject is awkward for some people. But I really just do not care. And you know what else? it is totally okay to laugh and joke about dark things. It is totally okay to have moments of happiness and laughter in the midst of dark stuff. That’s one of the things that puts the dark stuff in their proper place. Very often, I think people feel compelled to be serious about something, or they actually have to be serious about their situation when they’re at home – in my case that’s where little minds are still wrapping their heads around family changes. So that means it’s even more important to have those moments of funny in safe spaces with friends and family. Every one of those one-liner wisecracks is and was a step to a happier person.
Another thing I have laughed about for an entire year is that the book I was reading at the time I discovered my then-husband was in another relationship was The 5 Love Languages. A friend had recommended it, and I was just reading about people who regularly need words of affirmation. That’s pretty far outside my wheelhouse because I am not a person who needs that sort of thing, so I just didn’t even know what to do with that. And I found myself wondering why I should thank someone for stuff like taking out the trash. All household chores should be equally managed by the adults – do people really need a thank you for doing their part? I mean, we’re all grown-ups here and this is chores we’re talking about. But I digress, and clearly I am not well-matched to words of affirmation folk. The point is I was reading a book to understand the ways that people show love, when I learned that I was in a relationship that was in no way about love. I used to think that was sad and tragic, and it is but at the same time there’s funny in that irony. There’s also endless crass commentary about the love languages of people who do not honor themselves or marriage – which is probably what helped me get to the place of seeing the funny in that irony.
Today during that sermon on God’s presence, the pastor talked about Jesus attending a wedding and it struck me in a new way that He was a person just like us. And yet it seems like the majority of stories about Him are serious – He wept or He was angry or He was grieved or He was hurt or He was compassionate or He was teaching. He talked about salvation and how to pray and how to treat your neighbor and how to live. There was nothing specific I could recall from the Bible where Jesus talked about laughter. So I came home and Googled it. And I did find something He said about laughter and it’s in the Beatitudes, which I should have thought about. But I hadn’t read the Good News Translation of Luke 6:21 which says “…Happy are you who weep now; you will laugh!”
I don’t know with any certainty if Jesus laughed or if God has a sense of humor, but I feel strongly both things are true. Jesus was human like us and we laugh. I’ll concede He probably doesn’t like my crass commentary. But perhaps He laughed with his Mom when they recounted childhood stories or perhaps He laughed with His friends at weddings. And aren’t we are made in His image and made for fellowship? Part of fellowship is laughter. I have to believe God finds the funny, and He’s present with us all the time rooting for us to do the same.