Humor Me…

How many times have you heard “If I don’t laugh I’ll cry”? Shared again just this morning, it hit me that I hadn’t had a good belly laugh in a few days. You know the ones…your side hurts, a snort might sneak out, and you laugh again later just thinking about it.

Like my faith~deeply rooted~humor has provided soft landings for hard falls. I’m native to a giggling homeland. My youngest son once said “I love how our family can laugh-even during hard times.” That hit me right between my heart chambers.

It was 1988~My wombmate (a.k.a. twin) and I were singing for the Chamber Choir of Southwest Missouri State University. Humor did not have a place at any practice. Dr. Guy Webb, choir director, was an amazing talent. He was demanding and picky~and not what I would describe as “humorous” by a long-shot. And you had better not “scoop”. To “scoop” meant you would start at a note and slide up to the note you SHOULD be singing. Simultaneously, the two of us scooped (very loudly) to a….wrong note. “Oops-a-daisy!” Things spiraled quickly. “Do not look at me!” I thought to myself. And we did it. We made eye contact with one another. NO, it wasn’t with Dr. Webb (had it been things probably would’ve remained dignified). Instead, our twin eyes caught one another and it began. IT ALWAYS begins with just a tiny giggle. And when the shoulders start to dance, it’s never a quiet outcome. Needless to say the practice had a small intermission (I’m sure other singers might agree it was needed).

Perhaps I could write a memoir titled “Times I laughed when I shouldn’t have laughed and most people would not laugh, but the weird ones like me would get it.” (WAYYYY TOOOO LOONNNGGG of a title anyway).

You see, I had to (have to) laugh. In every situation, whether sad, frustrating, horrific, unbelievable, or even catastrophic, there lies deep in my soul a pint-sized risible region. And also, residing there, is the ability to understand irony. This developed at a very young age. As a child (and now) I remember learning to understand others. And humor played a huge role.

Without diving into brain research on child development, my experiences as an educator guided me to help students develop imaginations and spot incongruities. I understood students who “got” the joke~and also those who didn’t. We all process different. Brains process humor differently. Disney and Pixar movies are loaded with humor that we, as adults, understand (and some young ones do too). It’s a joy to watch little people develop their humor.

“Having a humorous outlook on life is a good coping strategy. It helps people better manage stress and adversity. More negative humour styles, such as sarcasm, ridicule, and self-defeating humour, do not offer the same benefits. Instead, they tend to alienate people and are more associated with depressed mood and aggression….And neurobiology shows that laughter can lead to brain changes, which may explain the link between humour and intelligence.

Sadly, there are some that can’t laugh. Maybe due to a physical or biological reason. Or because they are in despair and find no reason to smile or even laugh. I’ve been there. I understand.

There’s nothing funny about the turmoil I see in our world. It doesn’t “tickle” me to witness loss of laughter in some, illness in others, hate spewing from a few or a pew, and people tearing one another down because of their own inability to love others with an open mind and no judgement. To let go of the perceived knowledge that EVERY person should think like YOU, be like YOU, dress like YOU, love like YOU, believe like YOU, walk like YOU, talk like YOU, and laugh like YOU.

There are many situations in my life that have brought tears. And when I have laughed so hard I cry,….well, those are the tears I hope we can ALL shed as much as possible. Try to make someone smile. In this complicated, and sometimes dark times, I pray you find a reason~any reason, to laugh. In contrast to my “brittle” bones, requiring much faith and attention, my funny bone seems to be more resistant to fracture. And my backbone stays strong too. Humor me…even if I’m not funny, I’ll still choose happy.

Have faith💚

Just for giggles…

Thick Truth

The year was 1970-something. My twin sister and I were at our Grandparents’ in rural SW Missouri.   Grandpa and Grandma Hale sold mobile homes and managed a gas station next door.   The smells of the new fabrication of the homes brought tears to my eyes. As does the time we were painting our nails. 

One of us left a stain on Grandma’s leather ottoman. “Girls, I don’t know which of you did this, but God knows. “she said.  And one of us (I’m sure we’d each blame the other 😉) replied, “Yes, but Grandma, he isn’t going to tell you.” Grandma never knew the truth. God does.  

Isn’t it funny what comes out of “the mouths of babes”?  There was a time a 4-year-old was visiting the school office with his Momma.   Staring at me with the cutest beady blue eyes he declared (boomingly) “You have a creepy face!”  Gulp. The secretaries fell over laughing.   Immediately I started apologizing for the disgusting face I must have been displaying.  What just happened?  Immediately my level of self-efficacy dropped over the statement he made.  I likened it to the time a 2nd grade student announced that my belt and my shoes did not match (she became a one-time reigning Miss Missouri Teen USA and is now a teacher). She continued critiquing my outfits the entirety of the school year (my little sense of fashion apparently began around 1992).    After 14 years with elementary aged students I had grown some tough skin.  Eight years with middle-school and I was on my way to developing my new chill factor. Or so I thought. 

The truth is….well, ….truth hurts.  And you wouldn’t be telling the truth if you denied it. 😉  It’s easy as humans to take everything personally.  Oh, the vanity!  We think everything is about us.  Even though my skin is physically becoming thinner, my psyche needs to remain thick. To be easily offended thins my skin even further.   Perhaps insecurity causes one to be offensive (this has been my own personal experience). Shame, guilt, and pride-a few more nasty emotions I’ve had-can all wreak havoc on a self-image.

There will be many opportunities to become offended (note-you will be the offender too at times).  It seems that our world is becoming way too offended.   Perhaps we are becoming an “all about me” society?  

We have power to control our reactions.  What we think truly affects us both physically and emotionally.  This world offers plenty of toxicity-in words, actions, and thoughts.   Just taking a glimpse at the actions of adults on the campaign trails is evidence of how leaders can be so offended and/or offensive.  It’s everywhere! 

Last week I had the privilege of learning from Dr. Caroline Leaf.  Dr. Leaf is a communication pathologist and audiologist who has worked in the area of cognitive neuroscience since 1985.  In her book, Switch on your Brain, Dr. Leaf shares “We have the unique opportunity to assess our thoughts and their impact and choose to connect to the vine that is Christ (John 15:1-5)-to restore growth and prune off the branches of toxic thinking.” (45). 

Our minds control our thoughts which control our brain to determine how we will react. How do we gain control of our own minds, thoughts, and feelings?  How does all of this relate to the title of my post Thick Truth?  WE have the power to direct our thinking.   “Your mind is the most powerful thing in the universe after God.  Although we cannot control the events and circumstances of life, we can control our reaction” (Leaf 25). 

Friends, we have a choice.  Each day we can choose to not be a victimto overcome the feelings of rejection or toxic thoughts” (Leaf, 26).  And we have the power to not be offensive or take offense. Wouldn’t the world seem brighter with just this shift of thinking? What choice are you going to make today?  And what “thick truth” sticks with no harm?  

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7  

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” -1 John 3:18

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

“Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” -Proverbs 17:9

Have faith 💚