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.

Serenity keychain turned into an ornament, Haven, KS

Stop crying and party

There’s no time of year like Christmas. No other season is as busy, as crazy, as absurd, and as insane. Everyone’s running around doing something, whether it’s cooking or baking, shopping or wrapping presents, travelling or working. And then there’s the requisite Christmas Eve rehearsals at church and the million and one social events. Before you know it, your entire calendar for December is stuffed full, and you don’t have a single moment to spare.

I’m speaking from experience here. This always happens to me. And I always swear I’m going to slow down some day, but I never seem to figure out how. So before today gets away from me, I just want to take a moment and stop.

Serenity keychain turned into an ornament, Haven, KS

Serenity keychain turned into an ornament, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Nehemiah 8:10.

And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

The ornament pictured in this photo isn’t an ornament. It’s a key chain, but I’m hard on key chains. And it broke. So I stuck it on a wire hanger and hung it on my handmade Christmas tree. For those of you who aren’t science fiction nerds like me, this is Serenity a space ship from Joss Whedon’s amazing television series Firefly. It has nothing to do with Christmas. Nothing at all. But it made me smile.

I think that’s something people need to do more of, especially in the Christmas season. Smiling is good for your health, and it’s good for the health of other people around you.

The book of Nehemiah is a really interesting story because much of it is told in narrative format, which is unusual for the Bible. Nehemiah is in charge of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and this particular verse comes from a moment when the Law was read out loud to the people and they understood it. They were all so overwhelmed with being able to understand the words of the Law, they wept. And that’s why Nehemiah was telling them to stop crying and go party.

Honestly, I think that’s news American Christians need to hear. Our country is in a dangerous place right now, and there’s trouble everywhere you look. Name a part of American society, and I bet you can find something wrong with it. We’re a mess. And I know lots of people who are actively engaging in trying to right the wrongs in our country, and I have the highest respect for them. But sometimes I wonder if we all just take ourselves too seriously.

Don’t get me wrong. A lot of this is serious stuff, and it deserves to be taken seriously. But all the time? Do we have to focus on everything that’s wrong in our world constantly?

Come on, Christians. Lighten up. Rejoice in your salvation. That’s what Christmas is about. It’s a time for us to celebrate and remember that our Savior came for us so we could have life! And not just life–abundant life. A rich life. A life full of joy and hope and peace and wonderful experiences.

It’s easy to get down about what’s happening in our world, and it’s even easier to get down about all the things that are wrong in America. But take a moment and try to focus on something that’s going right, even if it’s just the relationship between you and God. If that’s all you have to celebrate, you still have a huge reason to rejoice. Because you’re right with God. Through Christ, you’ve been reconciled to God, and you’ll never be alone. And if that isn’t worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.

Maybe the world is a mess and maybe America is falling apart, but that doesn’t mean we have to focus on that this Christmas season. Instead, focus on what God has done in your life today. The joy you find in Him will strengthen you so that you can face any challenge.

So stop crying, Christians, and let’s party. We have a lot to celebrate.