A healthy sense of humor is one of the best gifts you can receive. In my opinion, everyone is wired with the potential for a profitable sense of wit and humor, which may or may not be cultivated, based on environment, necessity, and/or preference. I will venture to say that modern mankind is working much too diligently on developing an attitude of moroseness, with a monstrous side order of sensitivity. Unfortunately, the kind of humor we often witness these days is not at all what I’m talking about. It’s often more of a mean-spirited, punch-you-in-the-gut kind of cynicism (doled out in thoughtless one-liners on Twitter). When it comes to being able to laugh at one’s self, our world is in crisis, filled with a bunch of mamby-pamby cry babies.
The School of Happiness
Laughing at yourself is the highest level of achievement in the school of happiness. Taking oneself too seriously leads to a dangerously annoying sense of delicacy, and makes one an irritable and intolerant neighbor. Scores of people promote “tolerance“ and a spirit of “co-existing” these days, but are often unable to practice what they preach, because they’re too busy constantly picking the scabs of their imagined wounds. With a healthy dose of inwardly focused humor, we can take the edge off of supposed slights, and learn to laugh it off with a kind and generous attitude towards others. It would help us promote charity and understanding more than any get-even scheme ever could!
My own gift of humor was formulated when I was young, created one stitch at a time—a survival quilt of various colors gathered together in a whimsical pattern. When difficulties arose, I would wrap my comforter tightly around me and feel the healing warmth. The funny side of any suffering or predicament would come slowly into focus, and the hint of a smile would take shape on my tear-stained face. It served as a reliably safe haven in the cold environment of a psychologically crippled family. Many an hour I labored over that quilt, adding a stitch here, a new patch there, as the Holy Spirit ever-so-slowly guided me towards a pattern of wholeness. I’m still adding patches and stitches to it in my late 50’s, and I imagine I’ll die without completing it. Some people might call it a crazy quilt, but I think of it as my security blanket—that one special tool I possess, which allows me to rise above it all.
A Goofy Disciple
Nowadays, laughing at myself comes naturally. You can see it in my writing, detect it in my off-the-cuff quips. A while back, I went to a store that houses a huge cheese department. I took it upon myself to brighten the day for a young man working the cheese counter. I told him that everyone who worked there should have a bumper sticker that said, “I believe in Cheeses!” (This was something that just popped into my wacky brain as I stood there in that amazing cheese display, and when I said it, it sounded pretty much exactly like I was saying, “I believe in Jesus.”) The guy looked at me with concern, and said in a serious voice, “That might offend Christians!” I laughed and responded, “Well, I am a Christian, VERY serious about my faith, and I made it up….and it’s darn funny!”
Really, would anyone actually be offended by such a thing? Yes, I’m sure there are some people out there right now who are grimacing in disgust. The wise among us, with a healthy view of self, recognize that it was a purely light-hearted joke (and one of my better ones!). I feel pretty safe in professing both my love for Jesus and for cheeses (even if I can’t eat dairy anymore…), and I picture my beloved Savior shaking his head at me as He grins, and saying, “That’s my goofy disciple, whom I love.” After all, God gave me the gift of humor, and as long as it’s clean, innocent, and kindhearted wit, and I’m brightening someone’s day, then I’m using it well and properly. I challenge you to learn to laugh at yourself. Find one or two humbling (or even hurtful) moments that you can transform into a good laugh, and you’ll find yourself feeling better. Cultivate it into a constant habit and we’ll nurture healthier and happier interactions with those around us, one contagious giggle at a time!