TITLE: Laughing Matters
By Chris Janzen
SEND A PRIVATE COMMENT
SEND ARTICLE TO A FRIEND
I don't think anyone can deny the days our country has been going through the past months and even years have been difficult ones indeed. Some folks have lost jobs, homes, life savings, or their dreams. Some have even lost faith in America or in God. They wonder why when things had been going so well for this country for 200+ years, why are we suddenly now spiraling into chaos?
The bad news is everywhere; financial problems for almost everyone, our involvement in two ongoing military conflicts, rogue nations and terrorists that want to kill us just because we are American, school shootings, gang violence, racial discord, the list goes on and on and on.
None of these serious and volatile issues are laughing matters by any means. Yet I would suggest to you that finding our way to happiness and peace, and yes, even laughter, may be the only thing that can get us through this difficult time.
We all feel a complete lack of control at what is happening in the world. It seems that things are truly spinning wildly out of control and there is not a blessed thing we can do about it. What a helpless feeling.
As responsible human beings; parents, workers, neighbors, and friends, a good percentage of us do all we can to help others in need. So how do we help our selves at this time in our history? We voice our dissatisfaction, argue with others over political ideology, get into fights with the ones we love, but none of it make us feel any better.
The harsh reality is we are not in control of things, and as a nation of “control enthusiasts” it drives us crazy! So how can we possibly find our way to happiness when we have no control?
The truth is there is something we can control, not only in these difficult times, but in the good times as well, and that is our response to the whole situation. We've always heard that, “Into every life a little rain must fall,” but why do some people seem to get dumped on continually, and others remain relatively untouched? Furthermore, why do some of those same people, the ones who get “rained on” the most, that have the most difficulties, have such a great attitude? On the other hand, why is it that people who seem blessed and favored to the rest of us gripe and moan about how “hard” they have it?
It's all a matter of attitude. It is a mind set about life and how we respond to it. Remember those commercials several years ago, where they would show some sad situation and how the person in the commercial responded to it? The announcer would say, “It's not what life does to you...it's what you do with life.” How profound, yet how simple. It is a secret that the happy people of the world have figured out on their own; that they can't control a good portion of the events in their lives, they can only control how they react to it. Will they react with bitterness, resentment, and anger...wondering why God or The Universe or Whomever is “punishing” them? Or will they be grateful for each day they have, and look at difficulties as a lesson in life's University?
I have a precious niece who is only in her early 20's. She was completely paralyzed from the neck down at the age of 21. She is a mom to beautiful 5-year-old twin boys, yet she can't pick them up, can't hold their hand, can't even wrap her arms around them and give them a hug. They were exactly one year old when this happened to her. She had no control over it. It just happened.
I have watched over the years how she and others in the family responded to her situation. Of everyone, SHE is the one who is taking it the best. She views this profoundly life altering event as a gift. She believes it got her attention and interrupted a path of self destruction she was on. She believes she is a better mother and a better person because this has happened. I know she is. I have never seen such courage in the face of such adversity. She inspires me and teaches me continually what it means to make the most of every day. She is, and always has been, one of the funniest people I know, finding things to laugh about and poke fun of in the tiniest things. I always feel alive and happy and like I'm at a party when I'm with her. The very thought of going to see her makes me smile.
I know other people who are physically well, but emotionally paralyzed. Their lives are filled with worries and fears of "what might happen," conjuring the worst case scenario in their mind in every situation life throws at them. They are stuck, unable to help others because of the focus on themselves.
My advice to people with these kinds of mindsets is to get your mind off yourself and begin to do something kind for someone else. I especially recommend looking up. Put your trust in God to help you, to care and provide for you, drink in the peace that He so generously offers.
My niece, although she is physically paralyzed, is emotionally and spiritually strong. She is blessed and is a blessing to others because of the joy she brings to those around her. So many times I have gone to see her thinking I would “go and cheer her up,” yet I always come home feeling like I'm the one who got cheered up. I always leave with smile cramps from laughing so much, and I feel great.
When I go to one of those other people's house for a visit I know I will have to endure a litany of complaints about everything under the sun. I always leave a house like that feeling like I've been beaten with a rod.
The difference is two things; attitude and gratitude. My niece has a great outlook on life. She feels happy and fortunate to be alive to see her boys grow up, and even though she can't hug them, they can hug her and they know she loves them. She does the best she can with what she has, and she is thankful. She knows how fragile life is because she almost lost hers, and her life was so dramatically altered that she is just happy to still be here, paralyzed or not.
Every day we can make the choice when we wake up to look for something good, expect to be blessed, and find things to be thankful for. Or, we can wake up grouchy, treat others badly because WE are having a “bad day” and long for all the things we wish we had. The choice is ours. The key is our response to what happens to us.
Bette Midler has long been one of my favorite entertainers, and I have many of her CD's because I just love her voice, her attitude, and her sassy personality. On a CD released in 2004 (LONG before things had gotten as bad as they are now in the world), she had a song titled, “Laughing Matters.” This song beautifully articulates what I have been trying to express...that when things are difficult and life is filled with tragedies that are clearly not a laughing matter, well, THAT is when laughing matters the most.
by Bette Midler
Live at five and CNN,
Keep us all abreast
Of breaking stories that can tend
To make us anxious and depressed.
Problems with no answers
Hang on like some chronic cough.
And every day some brand new issue
Rears its head to tick you off.
Bad guys win.
Optimism's wearing thin.
Things are spinning out of control.
Cynicism's all the fad.
World events could make us mad
Almost every day
Some underpinning slips away.
These aren't laughing matters.
Time bombs tick.
People keep on getting sick.
And a nickel's not worth a cent.
Wickedness and greed abound.
Just as peace is gaining ground...
Hate is here to stay,
And justice goes to those who pay.
Friend, these aren't laughing matters.
The truth is scarier by far,
Than anything that Stephen King could write.
The stories in the paper are
The daily small decline and fall
Spelled out in black and white.
Oh, what to do, what to do?
How to take a brighter view
When your noodle is totally fried.
Human spirits need to be
Leavened by a little levity.
So take those blues
And bounce them off the wall.
Keep your humor please,
Cause don't you know it times like these, that
Laughing matters most of all.
"A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face;
a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day."
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.