The funny side of life

by Kristin on November 10, 2010

in Culture, ideas & paradigms

Photo by apdk

Wow, life can get heavy sometimes.

I just looked at the nine recent blog posts that show up at the bottom of my site, and collectively they made me want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. Humans can hibernate for the winter too, can’t we? Here’s a sample of what I’ve written about recently: The bullying and suicides of LGBT teens. How politics have mucked up the Christian faith. The number of people in the world who are struggling to make basic ends meet, and how overwhelming and hopeless we can feel when we try to make a difference. So many heavy topics. Ugh.

The universe has a sense of humor

Thankfully, life can be funny, ironic and surprising, too. Like when we want to type “Wow,” as in “Wow, life can get heavy” and somehow our fingers seek out the keys “Sos” instead. That’s exactly what happened when I sat down to write this post. I typed my first word, looked at the computer screen and it read “Sos.” It was as if my fingers were going AWOL, giving up on my oppressive mind and branching out on their own, in search of a rescue, a better life.

Earlier this morning I had another funny experience. I was at the middle school for a Student of the Month recognition breakfast. The room was (I can only assume) filled with the best and the brightest—you know, the kids who have it together—and their parents. Clearly we must have it together too, right? But after the breakfast, a group of us became hopelessly lost trying to find out way out of the school building. How funny is that? Did we hand over all of our competence to our kids at birth, or what? A friend told me it reminded him of a Far Side cartoon—the one with a kid trying to get into the “school for the gifted” by pushing on a door clearly labeled “pull.”

And that, of course, is what makes Far Side cartoons and comedians and late night television so funny: The humor is rooted in truth. Yes, some people definitely have a comedic gift, but life freely presents all of the material we need for laughter. We don’t even have to go looking for it—the funny stuff has a way of popping up unannounced, when we least expect it. We just have to chose to see it as funny and be ready to laugh.

You usually have a choice: laugh or cringe

When you think about it, nearly every funny incident has the potential to be annoying, embarrassing, or both. Like being part of a group of “dumb parents” wandering around lost in the middle school. Or like this past Friday, when two of our friends made a three-hour trip to our house for our annual chili cook-off—a day early. They were certainly a bit embarrassed and annoyed with themselves, but we ended up having a great evening together, just the four of us, and the situation provided plenty of laughs.

Life is heavy. I hate to think how oppressive it would feel if we weren’t free to laugh—especially at ourselves and with those we love most.

I’m still chuckling about the way my youngest daughter and a group of her friends caught me off-guard in church on Sunday. It was after a somewhat somber teaching on God’s love being a consuming fire (which actually left me feeling more positive about that concept than I ever have before, but still—a heavy topic). We had just taken communion and were singing in earnest when the kids traipsed back into the sanctuary, fresh out of Sunday school, their sweet, cherubic faces adorned with mustaches, sideburns, beards and wild eyebrows they had fashioned from pipe cleaners. They innocently filed up to the front row, where they like to sit all together, and began singing their hearts out:

Precious Jesus, I am ready, to surrender every care; Take my hand now, lead me closer, Lord I need to meet you there.

Maybe my sense of humor is a bit off-kilter, but I think that’s some pretty hilarious stuff. I was more than ready to surrender every care, too. And you know what? I think that’s at least part of what it means to set down life’s burdens—letting loose, laughing, and simply opening yourself up to the funny side of life.

(Alright, now you have to share the funny things life has served you lately. :)

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  • Ray Hollenbach

    I met a man the other day with a wooden leg named Smith. I don’t know the name of the other leg.

  • Elaine Tolsma-Harlow

    Thanks Kristin for this post because I swear my life is just a comedy of errors…and the best thing I can do is just shake my head & laugh! It always seems to happen when I think that I have it all going on and that is when I manage to spill something, trip over something or say the totally wrong thing. I think it is because God has a really great sense of humor.

  • Alise

    The mantra at our house is that everything is funny. Honestly, there is almost no situation that we’ve encountered where there isn’t SOMETHING to laugh about.

    My kids have been cracking me up lately. The other day my husband and my younger daughter were playing zombies. She was getting ready to eat Jason’s brain, but then decided not to because, “…it tastes like college.” (He’s in school full-time right now.)

    They crack me up on a continual basis.

  • Nicole Unice

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I looked over my blog posts myself and felt like things are really heavy. I think it’s easy to turn to cynicism and despair in light of all the darkness in the world. I’m with you: we need to laugh more, at ourselves and about this crazy life!

  • Kristin T.

    Ray, clearly people only name wooden legs, right? I mean, do you have names for your legs? :)

    Elaine, isn’t it great that life presents us with so many reasons to stay humble—and that we can laugh at so many of them, rather than cry?

    Alise, it seems like a cliche to say it, or at least a really obvious fact, but laughter makes a happy home. And even though it seems obvious, I don’t think all families value and cultivate that like yours does. (Love the zombie brain-eating story—sounds very much like the sort of exchange that might take place at my house. :)

    Nicole Unice, it’s hard to find balance, isn’t it, without feeling forced? I mean, when heavy things are on our hearts, it’s difficult to write/think/talk about anything else in a genuine way. Funny isn’t something that can be forced, but I guess we can be more attuned to it, and make more room for it.

  • Dan J

    I find humor all over the place, but my sense of humor can be a bit twisted. I sometimes find something hilarious, while others are appalled. The laughter still keeps me happy and healthy, though.