Sunday, April 19, 2009
This is a picture of Jonathan, suited up to work with hot glass at the Corning Museum of Glass. You pretty much can't tell how cool he is when you see this picture, but I promise, underneath all that protective gear, there is a happenin' dude. Pretty soon I might have a picture of what he made...
It would be nice to be funny.
Sometimes I make people laugh, but it is usually unintentional. That's OK, really. I'm just glad if people laugh at me, even if it is really at me, and not along with me. I'm not too proud to be the butt of a joke.
What I really hate is when people are horrified by me. That is uncomfortable. A good healthy dose of humor can remedy some of the most awkward situations. I appreciate people who laugh at me.
Once I had a friend, Ginny, who laughed her head off at nearly everything I said. This was at a point in life when I was probably clinically depressed, and I was beyond pessimistic. We would get on the phone, and I would start describing my day, and she just laughed and laughed and laughed... before I knew it, I was laughing with her, and life didn't seem all that bad. I don't know if she was doing it on purpose to cheer me up. She was the kind of person who would have done such a thing, if she had thought of it. But she seemed completely genuine. She moved away to somewhere near Seattle and we tried to exchange Christmas cards for awhile, but both of us being mothers of multiple little children, the relationship didn't survive the distance very well. I missed her so much when she first moved away. I think she was the first good friend I had in New York.
Someone else could have heard me say the same things, and instead of laughing, a different person might have scolded me, or condemned me, or told me that I was wasting their time, being a drain. It's interesting how I can see the futility of such an approach from the outside, when I myself am the subject in debate. I think our natural response to people is to condemn them and criticize, but when it happens to us, how quickly we see that it doesn't work. You never make a person feel better about herself by telling her everything that is wrong with her. Obviously.
You make people feel better about themselves when you love them and have positive interactions with them. Demonstrating that you will "put up" with someone just demeans her all the more. Delighting in someone enables her to feel delightful, and when she begins to believe that she has the capacity to delight someone, she is empowered with a sense of security and esteem that helps her in every ensuing relationship.
It is usually pretty easy to delight in your friends; after all, that's why they are your friends... because you enjoy their company. Sometimes it is harder to delight in your family, or sometimes we are just lazy about it. When someone isn't "cutting the mustard" it is easier and much more natural to read him the riot act than to creatively come up with a plan for having positive interactions and building confidence, self-esteem and love. Self-esteem originates in being loved. And in family relationships we often forget that love needs to be more than a duty, it needs to be our delight.
God calls us to love one another. Jesus said in John 15:12, "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you." He also said, "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples," (John 13:35). Later, John wrote, "Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God," (1 John 4:7). Again, I think it is important to seek a love that surpasses duty and expresses itself with true delight for those it loves.
Which includes humor. What parent has not experienced the excruciating joy of laughing at the hilarious antics and conversation of a two-year-old? Why does it stop when they get older? Why is it so much harder to laugh at a 12-year-old? Or a 15-year-old? How do you hold on to that mirth, or recapture it?
"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength," (Proverbs 17:22).
Let's learn to laugh together, in our families, in our friendships, in our churches. Let's be willing to be a little ridiculous and accept others when they are, too.
Lord, please help me to love through laughter.