"You can laugh or you can cry; choose to laugh."
I love and hate that expression, likely because it's one I hear constantly out of the mouth of my dashing husband. It probably should be part of our family motto; but as I'm want to do, ugggh, yet again, I have to give him props. Because he is right, AGAIN!
As we begin to examine tool number two in our resilient tool box, you may be surprised that I would include humor. For me, humor is a daily tool, it provides stress relief. I find it is also a vehicle for vulnerability (another tool we will discuss down the road.)
Humor can be an escape from the difficulties of daily life, a place for teaching and an opportunity to connect with the Divine.
Yep, I said the Divine, will get back to that in a minute.
Humor is a "go-to" in our house. If you can't be a little self-deprecating, can't take a joke or even make a joke about the absurdity of some of your daily struggles; well you're missing out on some good living. Humor takes the edge off the really hard and gives you a safe and joyful place to let off a little steam.
I'm very self-deprecating, I can make a joke about my health, who could possibly be allergic to cold, to sweat, to water? My life is positively ridiculous, how can you not occasionally joke about the absurdity of it all... But, as always, that is where my journey has landed me. I see the world with a glass overflowing; even in the dark times it is always more full than empty. Humor works hand in hand with creating that positive attitude, and life that is positive is the way we roll.
We make jokes about health issues, anxiety, perfectionism, and my beloved's control freak ways! I want to be clear, our jokes aren't hurtful--ever, and if they miss the mark, someone is always quick with an "OUCH" and the comments are quickly re-framed. We are about light and fun, not negativity.
As with all the tools, it's about muscle memory, using the tools during the good times, makes it a whole lot easier to pull them out when the going gets tough. When you inject humor in the right spots, it allows others to relax and enter into your space with less trepidation.
I often say that the Divine has a wicked sense of humor. How is it possible no one tells you before you have children that you will get to raise yourself in so many unusual ways! Jeffrey and I look at each other daily and point fingers, "THAT'S YOU!" or "Excellent use of your DNA" because our Beauties constantly allow us to see ourselves, providing opportunities for reflection and growth. And let me be clear its not gender specific, as Ian gets older more and more of the Kathryness of it all shows up in my Irish Prince! Another opportunity to laugh at ourselves and God's fantastic sense of humor.
Additionally, how is it you can laugh with your friends, lovers and children, but not laugh with God? My couples group in DC would call it, "hammer moments," when for the billionth time you see something as if it was for the first and it hits you so hard it's, well like a hammer. The Divine uses humor constantly with me to teach that message, that hammer moment, it's not coincidence.
I often think God looks at our world, wondering why we take everything so seriously! I don't think it's wrong to remind ourselves that our spiritual role models were human! Did they tell jokes... eek maybe even some dirty ones? Or was one a practical joker, always hiding your shoes, or your pillow? Each of our faith traditions have some great insights and tools to draw us closer to the Divine. The Jesuit order has the Ignatian Contemplation, or as some explain it, the Prayer of Imagination. The idea is simple and wonderful; take a scriptural reading and then imagine yourself in the midst. You just beamed in, you are reporter or a director with your imaginary movie camera. What is going on around you? What is the weather? What are the main characters doing? What can you see? What do you hear? The Ignatians like to use this prayer with the Gospels, but any number of spiritual passages could work too. I love this type of meditation for families, because the young ones have the best imaginations! After dinner, read a small Gospel passage and talk to your Beauties. Throw out some crazy questions, like; who do you think is funny or the clown? The prankster? Which apostle did Jesus have to remind to pay attention? Was Jesus funny or was Mary? What were they like as normal folks? Did Mary remind Jesus to take his elbow off the table or use soap to wash-up before dinner? It's a simple, approachable way to talk about the readings and perhaps give each of us a chance to deepen our faith in a new light. Tonight after dinner we will be re-visiting the Transfiguration from today's Gospel from Mark 9:2-10. My Beauties will have some interesting insights on what is happening on top of that mountain!
So tool two is a little humor. Work on making it your super power this week! Please contact me and let me know if you have any other ideas on how to use the first two tools. I would love to add your ideas and suggestions to my summary at the end of the series.
Till next Monday. Peace be with you, and may you feel the warm glow of my Irish love on you today and always.
photo credit: Lenten Mission via photopin (license)