Written by Julie Mikus
“At least I made you laugh,” were the words my late mother-in-law often said to her family. Oh, how these words were true! I don’t think I ever left her without having belly-laughed. Laughter was the epitaph of her life. At her funeral service, my niece read Proverbs 31 as a tribute to her Grandmother. “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” What an amazing tribute to a woman who made us laugh!
When’s the last time you laughed? I mean really, really laughed – – from your belly? I believe laughter is God’s idea. I also believe it should not be missing from our Christian life and journey. My heart hurts when I see Christians morose, looking so serious, head downcast. We should not be walking around looking like we don’t have fun! Laughter is essential in our walk with God, as it is for healthy relationships. Laughter is so closely knit with the word joy. It is so important to realize that joy and laughter are a gift from God! Not only is joy gift of God, but also a response to the gifts of God. The more you are aware of God’s grace and gifts in your life, the more we relish his favor – – and that’s when we respond with joy. Joy is a heart posture, a response, and I believe with it, comes laughter.
I love to imagine Jesus sitting with his disciples after a long day of ministry, laughing with them around the campfire. Jesus felt everything we feel here on earth, including what it feels like to laugh. We would be hard pressed to find a single scripture describing Jesus as laughing…it is only my pure speculation that Jesus laughed. However, the reason I imagine Jesus laughing is he was fully human, and he was also perfect. Because Jesus was the full and glorious embodiment of love, I believe he laughed.
Sometimes folks are so puffed up with pride, always focusing on the negative, filled with worry and anxiety. They might have trouble laughing at themselves, or finding the humor in any situation. However, when we laugh, we make those around us feel comfortable, we ease a difficult situation. We need to find the humor in life’s mishaps. Laughter keeps our engines humming with joy, even when everything around us is falling apart. Nehemiah told the Israelites, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” He knew all about the Israelites prolonged suffering, yet he encouraged them to not be grievous in spirit. Because God loves joy and laughter, this verse is a powerful reminder for us: not only does God lift our spirits, he strengthens us in the most amazing ways!
Laughter is also good for us. Did you know a child laughs approximately 400 times a day, yet the average adult laughs only 1.5 times? When we laugh we lighten our mental load. There’s also amazing physical benefits to laughing. We stimulate our organs, and enhance our oxygen intake. Laughter stimulates our hearts, lungs, and muscles. Plus, it increases those awesome endorphins from our brains. Surely, laughter is God’s idea! Laughing reminds us of all the great things God has done in our lives. Psalm 126:2 says, “Then our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues sang for joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” Laughter is a proclamation for God’s goodness!
Just a week after my mother-in-law passed away, I attended an amazing Christmas event called, “Loving Out Loud.” This ministry gathers adults with special needs, caregivers and volunteers together for one simple reason: to laugh and love. And how the room was filled with laughter with these precious individuals! Without a care in the world, they sang, danced and laughed. What a gift it was for me after a week of sadness to have fun and laugh! It changed my whole attitude entering into this busy holiday season.
As this holiday season approaches, may I encourage you to laugh? Fill your home with laughter! I realize some are hurting, and the holidays can be a time of stress and in some cases, even heartache. Despite the sadness, angst, or any heartbreak you may be experiencing, show your family, friends and co-workers that it is more than okay to laugh. I love what the Psalmist David writes in Psalm 30, “Sing to the Lord! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Allow your day to start with love, joy and laughter. It will change everything.
This Christmas, I encourage you to check your “laughter-meter.” You may not laugh 400 times a day like a 3 year old, but when you make a silly mistake this week, why not laugh? Don’t be defensive, sullen, and annoyed. Reflect on how laughter changes the atmosphere in your home, relationships and workplace. Make a conscious effort to make one person smile once a day this month. Think of all the ways laughter will benefit your physical body and emotional well-being. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “To laugh often and much…This is to have succeeded.” Allow yourself the joy of laughing often and much this Christmas, and it will surely carry forward into your New Year, and all your days to come.
May you have a Merry Christmas filled with joy…and don’t forget to unwrap the best gift this Christmas: the gift of laughter.
(Written in loving memory of Diane Jean Mikus who undoubtedly entered heaven laughing on November 24, 2017.)
Julie Mikus serves as the Program Director for Network of Hope. Besides spending time with her husband & son, she enjoys walking her dog Glory, never missing a sunset, and shopping at local thrift stores for treasures and bargains!