By Jacqi Ballough
“Can’t you take a joke? Don't be so sensitive. You are too serious.” The words stung but were true and have been repeated throughout my life by different people. I guess somewhere along the way I stopped thinking jokes were funny because I often became the "brunt” of them and didn't know how to respond with forgiveness and love.
Thankfully, the Lord gave me a son who has been full of laughter and joy since birth. I still remember his first witty joke at the age of four. Having just finished his nightly bath, I wrapped him up snuggly in a towel with both arms tucked in. He began waddling around, and then giggled, “Look mom! I'm a walking stick.” I died laughing.
The joy of a child can bring an adult to humility and negate the seriousness of mundane life. I understand why Jesus wanted the little children to come to him verses the “serious disciples” who tried shooing them away. Their happy chatter must have brought Him some perfect laughs.
Have you ever thought about it: Jesus laughing? It was not a characteristic, which I had normally associated with Jesus until recently. In fact, it was a revelation to me shown through the children’s historical fiction novel Crispin. In an effort to bring truth to a young boy, one character wisely spoke:
“I’ll give you a piece of advice. You are full of sadness. Those who bring remorse are shunned. Do you know why? … Because sorrow is the common fate of man. Who then would want more? But whit and laughter, no one ever has enough. When I think on the perfections of our Savior, I choose to think most upon His most perfect laughter. It must have been the kind that made us laugh too.”
During difficult days of broken promises and unmet expectations, my “serious side” (aka offended side) still flares up and laughter becomes void. An air of disappointment and frustration surround me, and are then projected onto whomever is closest, which most frequently happens to be my son. I am aware when it begins to stir but often have conflicting ideas with how to respond. The serious side of me often wants justice and the other mercy. "Justice” begins to win my soul with self-righteousness anger egging it on.
Then the voice of reason: “I think we need a tickle break mom.”
A few years ago, the Lord gave me the idea to make five minute tickle break passes for my son. He can cash them in anytime, especially when the seriousness becomes a little too thick, or he knows laughter is missing from the family. During the five minutes, we tickle, pillow fight, or battle with pool noodles until the timer buzzes. The result: a righted mind and perfect laughter.
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
Lord, thank you for giving me your joy. Keep me from the spirit of offense and keep my heart filled with laughter. Amen.