Life’s too short to live without laughing

 

I laughed a lot yesterday. It’s been a while since I laughed so hard. Long enough that I’d almost forgotten what it feels like–that pleasantly sore feeling in your ribs and stomach, aching from full-body laughter. It’s probably embarrassing when I laugh, because I’m not exactly quiet. But I remembered something yesterday: Real laughter is a natural antidepressant.

It’s hard to be down or discouraged when you can’t breathe because you’re laughing so hard. And after you spend an hour or two of hilarious, uplifting, God-centered conversation, I dare you to walk back into the darkness and think it’s still impenetrable. Laughter lightens your spirit, and that’s why it’s important to have friends who help you laugh.

J13BCL98JMToday verse is Proverbs 17:22.

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
    but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

Laughing is good for you. It’s a scientific fact. I can’t quote the science, but I’ve read about it, that a life full of laughter helps you stay younger and maybe even healthier. The problem is that life isn’t always fun. It’s difficult to laugh in the tough moments. It’s hard to hold on to that spirit of lightness when just living feels like a burden too heavy to bear.

I’ve been hunkered down for most of this month working on novel revisions, limiting my contact with the outside world to a small number of very close friends. I’m introverted. Very introverted. So the alone time doesn’t really bother me. I actually enjoy it.

But this month has also been extremely trying. Just loads of difficult, frustrating things have happened, piled on top of each other in one big suffocating mass of ugliness. And I really buried in my self-imposed deadlines, and my perspective suffers. I try to keep my eyes on the prize, but when you’re locked away in your office trying to knock out 5,000 to 7,000 words a day? It doesn’t leave a lot of time for listening to others, and that’s a mistake.

Yesterday I got to have lunch with two of my favorite people–friends I haven’t been able to hang out with for a long time. Friends I can pick up with right where I left off and it doesn’t feel like any time has past.

Everybody needs friends like that. People you can real with, who know the real you and–more importantly–who know Jesus and who know that God has everything under control.

If you can’t get your own perspective sorted out, you need to ask for help. Go to someone you love, someone you know loves you, and just spend some time with them. If you need to talk about what’s bothering you, do it. But you don’t always have to. Sometimes you can just have a silly, inconsequential conversation about nothing, and it can still encourage you. Just taking the time to talk to someone who loves you can make all the difference in the world.

Life is far too short to live it by yourself, and maybe some folks can get through it alone, but I don’t recommend it. The journey’s a lot more fun if you go with people. And if you’re one of those privileged people who still get to have lunch with friends you’ve known for 10, 15, 20 years, don’t take that for granted.

So tell stories. Remember good times. And laugh your butt off. I guarantee the weight on your shoulders will feel much lighter if you do.

 

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Barney the cat with his grumpy face in the snow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Did you know you have permission to laugh?

When was the last time you had a bad day? I mean a really bad day. One of those days when everything goes wrong, when you can’t seem to do anything right, when all you want to do is go home and curl up with a cup of tea and a book and escape your life.

Ever had a day that bad? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. You’ve been there. Everyone has. It’s not every day (if it is, you have bigger problems), but the days that you want to quit are sometimes just more than you think you can take.

What do you do on those days? Do you have a plan, a strategy for fighting back on days when you don’t want to fight anymore?

Barney the cat with his grumpy face in the snow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Barney the cat with his grumpy face in the snow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Psalm 26:1-6.

When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem,
    it was like a dream!
We were filled with laughter,
    and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
    “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us!
    What joy!

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
    as streams renew the desert.
Those who plant in tears
    will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
    but they sing as they return with the harvest.

People don’t laugh enough. That’s my personal opinion, but I think just about everyone will agree with me. People–God’s children included–don’t laugh often enough.

And I’m not talking about derisive laughter or about forced laughter. I’m talking about laughter that comes from joy, from the sheer mind-blowing joy of knowing God.

When was the last time you were stressed out about something? When was the last time you were ready to quit your job? Do you have answers for those?

Okay. So when was the last time you laughed like it didn’t matter who heard you? When was the last time you laughed until your sides hurt? When was the last time you had to wipe the tears out of your eyes because you’ve been laughing so hard you started crying?

And, no, that kind of laughter isn’t bad or irreverent or disrespectful. I mean, it can be. Of course, it can be. Anything good and pure can be corrupted. But laughter by itself isn’t wrong. Laughter is something more of us need to spend time doing.

Why?

Have you ever been down or depressed or sad? I have. And in those moments, everything feels so dark. I feel isolated. I feel like I’m the only person in the world. And then someone makes me laugh. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of laughter–just a chuckle. Just something that makes me smile. And it’s like the sun comes out, and all of a sudden I can remember that life doesn’t suck all the time. There are bright spots–more bright spots than dark spots if I’m being honest.

That’s what joy does. Joy helps us refocus, helps us clear the cobwebs of depression and sadness out of our brains for a little while and remember that we’ve actually got it pretty good.

Are you down today? Are you sad? Call someone. Or text someone. Someone you know will be happy or joyful or cheerful. Someone who has light in them. Maybe you don’t know that person well, but I’m sure you know someone like that. Just take a moment and talk. It’ll help. Let yourself laugh a little. Stop taking life and all its many issues so seriously, and give yourself permission to laugh.

You aren’t doing yourself any favors by running yourself into the ground. You aren’t helping the people around you either when you stress yourself out just to get your work done. No, take the time to laugh. Take the time to enjoy your life and the people in it. And I would be willing to bet that your ratio of good days to bad days will change.

Your bad days won’t go away. Don’t expect that. But how you look at them will change.

We all have bad days. We all have sorrows. But God’s promised in so many ways that sorrow won’t last forever and bad days eventually end.

Make the choice to be joyful. Give yourself permission to laugh. And pretty soon you’ll be able to honestly proclaim what amazing things God has done for you.

Ridiculous looking rabbit at the Sedgwick County Fair, Hutchinson, KS

Laughter is good medicine

When was the last time you had a good laugh? I mean, a seriously good laugh where your sides hurt and your face hurts because you’ve been laughing so hard? Can you remember? It’s interesting to me that our world seems so dead set on being so serious all the time.

Granted, our world is ridiculous, but when you get right down to it, our everyday lives aren’t really a laughing matter. We have stress at work, stress at home, stress at church, stress everywhere. There are bills to pay and food to put on the table and houses to clean and clothes to buy and all sorts of other necessities that we can’t get by without, and there’s very little time to actually do anything that needs to be done. Real life is a downer. Being a grown up is a downer, let me tell you.

Maybe that’s why people can make a living as comedians. People just want to laugh. But it’s hard to laugh when you know you’re facing difficult times. It’s hard to laugh when all you feel like doing is crying. But there’s something about laughter I think we forget sometimes, in our frenzied rush to get through life: laughter is good for us.

Ridiculous looking rabbit at the Sedgwick County Fair, Hutchinson, KS

Ridiculous looking rabbit at the Sedgwick County Fair, Hutchinson, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 17:22.

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
    but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

Some of the most hilarious memories I have as a child were hanging around Hutchinson with my dad and my brother. Actually, most of my hilarious memories come from my dad and my brother. It was always so much fun to go places with them because they have a similar sense of humor–sarcastic. Like the photo for today? I snapped that at one of the Kansas State Fairs as a reminder of the times we would all go to the fair and make fun of the silly looking rabbits.

Other times, we would entertain ourselves for hours just wandering up and down the toy aisles in Target making fun of all the magic potty babies. Those were great memories, memories that have stuck with me through the years. I mean, how often does a kid say some of their favorite memories are wandering the toy aisle at a big box store? Normally that would be a sad statement. But not the way we did it. We laughed so hard in those toy aisles, I’m sure someone must have thought there was something wrong with us (maybe there is!).

Laughter is good medicine. It just does something to you inside.

So how do you laugh when your world is falling apart? How do you laugh when you don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring? How do you laugh when everything in your life feels like it’s completely out of control?

I think it varies from person to person, but I truly believe that all of us need to have someone in our lives who brings us unbridled joy. Someone who sparkles. Someone who can spark laughter just by being there. And if you think that sort of person doesn’t exist, you’re wrong; you just haven’t met them yet. They’re hard to find, and a lot of time you don’t find them right away. Sometimes you have to do some investing in that person before they show up. Maybe it’s a parent or a child or a friend, but if you have one of those people in your life, treasure them. They’re the people who add value to your everyday. Don’t take it for granted, but make use of it.

Life down here is dark and sad, and God knows that. Yes, He’s in control. Yes, He knows what He’s doing, but this world is broken. And all of us face terrible sadness every day, and I think that’s why God wants us to laugh. Faith is wonderful. I love having faith, I love trusting that God is going to keep His promises, but that’s hard work. Faith and trust wear me out sometimes, but if I can laugh about it? If I can laugh in spite of life’s troubles, faith isn’t so impossible.

Find something that makes you laugh. Do something that makes you laugh. Just laugh. It will change your perspective. It may not change your circumstances, but it will help you get through them. And if you can cling to joy through your faith, your burdens won’t seem so heavy.

Sketch by the NewSpring Drama Team, NewSpring Church, Wichita, KS

Everybody needs to laugh more

When was the last time you laughed until your sides hurt? Have you ever laughed that hard? I did. Last night. I laughed until I cried, until my ribs were sore, until I could barely breathe and when I did breathe I ended up coughing. The reason why? Drama team meeting.

I’m so blessed and so fortunate to be a part of an awesome drama ministry at NewSpring Church. It’s amazing to have so many people who don’t care about the spotlight. That’s what makes this drama team amazing. Other dramatic groups I’ve been a part of always had prima donnas or the really super talented folks who demanded attention. There’s nobody like that in our drama team. Everyone is there because they want to use their gifts to tell others about Christ.

Last night, we laughed ourselves silly, and I left the meeting feeling lighter on my feet than I have in ages. As I was driving home, I got to thinking (I do a lot of thinking in the car, mainly because I do a lot of driving) about how beneficial laughter is. I don’t think I laugh enough. Now, you people who know me may think that’s a silly statement because I’m always cheerful and always happy and always laughing about something. But I’m not talking about generic laughter or sarcastic laughter or laughter for the sake of avoiding tears. I’m talking about real laughter, the laughs that shake you head to toe, the ones you can’t keep inside, where you throw your head back and forget how ridiculous you probably look and sound because you just can’t help it.

Have you ever laughed that hard? I recommend it.

Sketch by the NewSpring Drama Team, NewSpring Church, Wichita, KS

Sketch by the NewSpring Drama Team, NewSpring Church, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 17:22.

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
    but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

I didn’t plan to post about this today, sort of like yesterday. I was just struck by how much better I felt about life in general after our two-hour-long laugh fest at our drama team meeting, and I thought I’d share my revelation.

Laugh more.

We all need to laugh more. We all take life so seriously all the time, and Christians are the worst about this. We focus on the doom and gloom. We focus on everything that’s wrong in the world, wrong in our lives, wrong in other people’s lives. We hide in our pews and prophesy that the end is coming soon. We crack our whips and teach people that God values service and humility and a sober-minded work ethic. And I’m not saying that He doesn’t. Of course, He values those things. But who says service and humility and work have to be solemn things?

Good grief, Christian. Lighten up.

I’m talking to myself here because I take myself way too seriously. Maybe it’s my genetic predisposition to a perfectionist mentality. When I screw up (which happens frequently), I beat myself bloody. And I keep beating myself bloody until long after everyone else around me has forgotten it. When I don’t perform to my own standards, I call myself a failure. When I don’t meet up with God’s commands (which rarely ever happens), part of me is afraid to even approach Him because I’d rather hide myself in shame than face His disappointment.

Yes, God is scary. Don’t ever tell yourself anything different. We should never lose sight of Who He Is.

But, by that same token, we should never forget what He gave for us. He gave Jesus for us. He sent Jesus to die for us. And because of what Jesus did for us in paying for our sings, we can call God our Daddy. The last thing God wants is for us to distance ourselves from Him because we can’t meet His righteous standard. Of course, we can’t meet His standard. That’s the point. That’s why He sent Jesus!

So what’s the point in all this? Yes, it’s important to be serious about things you need to be serious about, but in turn you are allowed to be silly about silly things. You can relax and have fun. Or do you think God giving you a sense of humor was an accident? Do you think the gift of laughter just happened? No way. We need to laugh. Spend time laughing, and you’ll see a difference in your entire perspective.

Schedule some purposeful time to meet with like-minded friends and go do something fun. Whether it’s serving at a soup kitchen or going to see a movie, give yourself permission to relax. Let your hair down. Be yourself. And enjoy what you’re doing. It’s okay to enjoy what you’re doing. You don’t have to be a solemn-faced Christian quoting Scripture 24/7.  I mean, if that’s what makes you happy, go for it.

But whatever you do, give yourself permission to play. Go outside. Have fun. Run around. Be a kid again. Don’t worry about what’s coming tomorrow. Don’t fret over what happened yesterday. Just enjoy having a relationship with your Daddy, and if something funny happens, don’t hesitate to laugh yourself into an asthma attack. Once you can breathe again, you’ll be glad you did.