Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lightening Up

When my wife and I met, she had a 'list' of what she was looking for in a husband. I don't think this is uncommon. Of course, I did not know about "Resurreccion's List" until after the fact, but it was pretty long and substantive. I must have received at least a passing score, since here we are eight and half years later.

I had a kind of working list in my mind of what I was looking for in a mate, as well. Not as long, but mentally catalogued none the less. It wasn't until a few years after we were married that I realized I had left one thing off, something vitally important, that I overlooked at the time. Thankfully, Deb had this quality even though it wasn't on my list. Thankfully, she had a great sense of humor.

It seems like such a worldly quality, doesn't it, kind of a peripheral and second-rate characteristic that you could take or leave if you are approaching a potential relationship from a spiritual perspective? I never really thought about it before, but I am here to tell you now: you will get a lot of mileage out of the ability to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously, and if you are married to someone who can do the same, it may just get you out of more jambs and potential pitfalls in a marriage than you may realize.

Who you marry is one of, if not the most, important and decisive acts of the will you will exercise in your lifetime. I don't want to undermine love and attraction, but as anyone who has been together a longish time knows, much of marriage is pragmatic-- the day to day, nuts and bolts task of living together and being a team. It can be a joy and also, at times, a grind. Having a sense of humor is like the oil in the car--it lubricates the inner parts of the engine, minimizing friction, and keeps it from overheating.

When Deb and I have been in arguments that got tense and heated to boiling point, it was humor that kept things from blowing up. In fact, life with my wife is overall pretty pleasant in large part because we laugh a lot--both at ourselves, our situations, and each others. I can honestly say it has moved up 'the list' to one of the top three slots in what I appreciate most about my wife.

I've met people that don't have much of a sense of humor, and it can be a downer. But I think developing a sense of humor is something something available to anyone, and it's important. Remember too, that this is coming from someone with clinical depression and bipolar disorder, so I know what I'm talking about when it comes to how to survive! Here's a few ideas to introduce a healthy and hearty dose of humor in your life as a Christian:

1) Don't take yourself so seriously. Christ has paid the price for us. We don't save anyone by our own power. We are all children of God, but if we start to think we are more important than we really are, pride and self-love can sneak in the backdoor and make a home in us. Being able to laugh at our mistakes and failings keeps us humble and human, two things the devil absolutely can't stand.

2) Find opportunities to laugh. You don't have to look up raunchy tasteless comedians on Youtube to do this. Humor is like a spice for what can feel like a bland existence sometimes in the world, and you can find it anywhere. For us, sometimes its videos of cats freaking out when they see a cucumber, or poking gentle fun at each other's foibles (without being mean). If you have trouble laughing, ask yourself why. Maybe turn off the news for a change of perspective, or try to connect with things from your childhood that made you smile or laugh. Whatever it is, it's worth exploring. Plus it's fun!

3) Connect with your humanity. I think people who are afraid to have a good guffaw every now and then at their own expense can sometimes have an exterior wall up that keeps people from seeing them in a negative light. Humor is very disarming. If you are a boss or a CEO, laughing and a degree of self-deprecation around your staff can put them at ease and go a long way in developing trust. It has a humanizing effect that is good for morale and confidence. We are humans after all, not perfect robots that never make mistakes! And if becoming human and taking on flesh was good enough for God Himself, it should be good enough for us too.

Life can be a grind. If our marriages become one more cog in the wheel of suffering, rather than an oasis for refreshment and mutual support and understanding, we are going to have a hard time of it. Of course, sometimes marriage itself becomes a source of trial. But if you find yourself just needing a 'tune-up,' --being snippy and petty and wearing each other down--consider adding a quart or two of humor, laughter, and not taking yourself so seriously as the antidote for what ails you. Take a step back and work it in intentionally and spontaneously where you can. "Laughter is cheap medicine!" --Lord Byron

"He that is of a merry heart has a continual feast." (Prov 15:15)

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