by Joanie Butman
It’s time for a more light-hearted musing don’t you think? While I would like nothing better than to entertain you with funny anecdotes each week, sometimes life just isn’t funny. More often it’s a melange of bitter and sweet. The Easter Season is a perfect example of that paradox – intense pain and sorrow but also unimaginable joy. Even Peter and John’s foot race to the tomb makes me laugh. Can’t you just imagine Peter’s competitive nature kicking in as he bolts past John eager to best the ‘one that Jesus loved’?
Blessedly, God has a good sense of humor and sprinkles our lives with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the uplifting power a good laugh provides amidst the difficulties of living in a broken world. Sometimes, laughter truly is the best medicine. It has helped me through many a dark hour. This week I was reminded of the pure joy a hearty belly laugh evokes.
During Pilates class, I was having a difficult time following instructions. The exercise called for me to be moving my arms only, but my legs refused to be left behind. It was comical. One of my partners made a comment about that instinct being a remnant from my cheerleading days. HA! Don’t I wish. Sadly, I never made the cheerleading team, though I tried out year after year. My efforts led to the creation of its stepchild – the Pep Squad, which is really a fancy name for enthusiastic spectator. I wouldn’t have looked good in the uniform anyway.
Athletics werenever my ‘thing,’ but that never stopped me from trying. I went out for every team. I wish I still had some of that chutzpah. I thought I could do anything. You can imagine the blow when I realized I was just average at best,and well below that in any area that involved coordination. But that painful realization came later. During the time I was showing up for tryouts, I was blissfully unaware that I lacked any athletic ability. This dearth of self-awareness led to some hilarious moments in the school gym. I wet my pants a number of times because I was laughing so hard. I can’t believe I actually thought there was even a remote chance that anyone would take me seriously.
I think my partners were a little surprised I wasn’t embarrassed regaling them with stories about my ‘accidents.’ Truth be told, I actually feel sorry for anyone who has never laughed hard enough to pee their pants. It was a regular occurrence during my tweens. We were young and carefree. We thought everything was hilarious. Well, life comes full circle because wetting my pants is once again a regular event now that I’m 61. There’s nothing funny about that!! Even so, I still find hilarity hiding in plain sight. It’s all about how you choose to look at things.
My laugh-so-hard moments may not be as frequent, but they remain balm for the soul – literally. Laughter releases the same endorphins induced by exercise. I’m all for getting the mental benefit of exercise without actually doing anything. I have even explored Laughter Yoga as an alternative to the more laborious downward dog kind.
It may have taken decades,and lots of trial and error, but I finally found a team that would take me. It’s nice to know your place in life. Being a cheerleader for Christ doesn’t require tryouts or any special ability other than availability. Since joining His team, He’s taken my ordinary abilities (and disabilities) and used them in extraordinary ways. His uniform is one of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Mine is often soiled and wrinkled, but those imperfections glorify Hisperfection all the more. As our coach, He’s not interested in our performance but our progress and persistence. I’m sure I’ve been the cause for many divine guffaws as He watches my bumbling efforts to follow His playbook.
Contrary to what many perceive, the Bible is laced with wit, irony and comic exaggeration. Unfortunately, much of the humor is lost in translation. We would have to be familiar with Jewish humor and tradition to pick up how Jesus integrates humor as an effective teaching tool. Many people think of Christians as a serious lot, and some are. But there are plenty others whose acceptance of God’s grace has given them the liberty to accept and laugh at their own foibles. That’s not to detract from the serious nature of sin and our need for salvation. Humor simply “allows us to confront the darker sides of life with grace and composure. Without humor, life would be unbearable. Humor is used as a means to deal with the burdens of life. May we choose to continue to take our ministry seriously but not ourselves.”*