My Journey to Joy

July 25, 2013


Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been mulling something over in my mind recently.  I’ve come to a few personal conclusions, but I still have more questions than answers.

I love a good joke.  I love to laugh until tears stream down my face and I accidentally snort (which embarrasses me, so I laugh even harder!).  I’ve pulled pranks by disguising meatloaf as chocolate cake, arranging for all of my co-workers to call in sick, and etc.  I’ve laughed when my students pulled a silly prank on me, but I shared with them my criteria for a “good” prank: it must not damage property, and the recipient must find it funny as well.  Pretty simple.  But how many times have you seen everyone laughing, while one person ducks away, embarrassed, to hide their tears?  I don’t find that funny.

A few weeks ago, Ann Voskamp wrote an amazing post on mental health.  (*You really must read it; so good!)  She told about her family’s dark time when her mother was admitted for psychiatric help, and she was instructed to tell no one.  Then this: “I once heard a pastor tell the whole congregation that he had lived next to the loonie bin and I looked at the floor when everyone laughed and they didn’t know how I loved my mama. I looked to the floor when they laughed…”

All my life I’ve heard and shared jokes about different races and people groups.  Some are innocent and truly funny.  I believe a mixed group of people could stand around laughing about them.  Others weren’t.  If that person had been standing there, the joke would have fallen flat, or never been said.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.  Luke 6:45

I was laughing the other day about a woman who came to an event sky-high on something.  Later God showed me my lack of compassion for her.  Her situation was to be pitied, not giggled about.  Sometimes laughter is how we deal with awkward situations, things that make us nervous or are traumatic.  I understand that.  I don’t know where my own line needs to be, much less someone else’s!  I just know that I was wrong to laugh at her condition, ludicrous though it was.

Daniel & I tried for many years to grow our family, first through pregnancy, then adoption.  It was a long, grueling process.  Our hearts were ripped right open.  And women frustrated with their children have laughingly offered, “Do you want mine?”  A woman with an unplanned pregnancy recently joked, “Maybe I’ll just give the baby to you!”  I automatically smiled and gave a soft laugh, but there was nothing funny about it.

I’ve sometimes been horrified when I’m teasing a friend to see a flash of pain or anger in their eyes.  Then I know I’ve gone too far, or hit a sensitive spot.  I’ll usually apologize and make a mental note to avoid that subject when joking.  Causing pain isn’t funny.

I understand that we can’t avoid all offence; we’re human, and we will accidentally hurt someone’s feelings sometimes.  There are complexities of situation, motivation, relationship…  But what if we really thought?  What if we filtered each joke by how we’d feel if we fit the stereotype being needled?  What if we decided that people aren’t a joke?  That everyone deserves respect, whether we like their religion, race, politics, sexual orientation, handicap, or whatever-it-is-about-them-that-is-different-from-us?  There’s plenty to laugh about, plenty of silly, innocent things.  I’m editing my own humor.

*Here is a link to Ann’s post:


1 Comment »

  1. Good thoughts!

    Comment by Bethany — July 25, 2013 @ 4:31 PM | Reply

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