Written by Sarah D.
As a woman, it often feels like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. I want to lead young women to know and love themselves fully, to be strong and courageous in how they live their life for God. I want to convict the men in my life of a standard of how to treat women, to show them the feminine genius. I also want to support and nourish those in my life, giving them a place to rest, a place to feel loved, all while trying to allow myself to heal, grow, and rest.
"Martha, Martha, Martha.” Jesus’ gentle words to an overworking worrying woman. Rushing around making everyone feel at home, considering everyone's thoughts, wants and likes, I relate so well to Martha especially during holidays. The rushing heart and intention I have for everyone to feel, believe, and know they are loved gets amplified throughout the holiday season, and so does my stress level. I remember my mom rushing around, baking delicious cookies and pie. When my extended family would get together, I remember all the moms, aunts, and grandmas bustling about making this, baking that, wrapping this, helping with that. Yet, the most memorable part of being around all those women was the laughter. The genuine joy they shared together, telling stories, delighting in memories and laughing.
When was the last time you laughed? Not a chuckle, not a giggle, but a deep hearty laugh?When I heard this question on the radio a few weeks ago, my mind raced and I genuinely wasn't sure. I had smiled, and did a little ha-ha, but the last time I laughed was when I went camping with a group of friends. I experienced fellowship from the people I truly adore, and felt known and loved by them.
In a book called "A Love that Laughs" the author Ted Cunningham says “Laughter is the barometer of strength.” The deeper you dwell on that thought the more truth truly flows through you. As a Christian, our strength isn't from our muscles , or our mind. It isn't from our children, our partners, our family or friends. Our strength comes from the Lord. God is our strength. Everything that we do, should be from and with the strength of God. "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” Proverbs 31:25. She laughs without fear of the future. No wonder I couldn't remember the last time I laughed! I live in fear of the future. Why? In short, because I want to control everything, and when I do that my life is not focused on God. I want it to be though, and I'm working on that. I know when my life isn't focused on God because the little things add up. The small issues become giant, the snowball effect comes rolling down, and the pebble issues become things that steal my joy, instead of something to laugh off.
In my life, when my focus, and strength come from my job, my boyfriend, my friends or family, or from pressures from society, social media, or hypothetical opinions from others, my focus and strength are depleted and I am not joyful. The barometer for the strength I have is low. I’m not laughing or enjoying my day, my life, or even those in my life. Why? Because I'm not being filled and fueled by He who is Love.
The main concerns of my life should be my job, and my partner and my kids (when I have them). I can get caught up in the details of life, because I try to control things and make things as perfect as I can. Most things are out of our control. When we sit in that desire to control, and need to manipulate, to save and protect our family, our jobs, our appearance, we begin to encounter endless speed bumps and road blocks. Uncontrollable things like accidents are now met with anger, exhaustion and rage as opposed to laughing it off. When our reactions are harsh, or self deprecating or berating, we have truly become lost in perfection, instead of being lost in love.
Think about a time when you laughed something off, how instead of it becoming a reflection of you as a person, it was a funny “laugh it off” moment. If you were to spill your morning coffee all over the floor, would you laugh it off and make another? Or would you have it become “one of those days”?
The trick isn't to be constantly at a breaking point and then feel like a failure when you can't choose joy. The root of the issue is going to be to find where your heart is and refocus it on joy. A good question I've started reflecting on is, what's my conflict to laughing ratio today? Have I laughed?
Matthew 6:21 says, “Where your treasure is, your heart will also be.” Do you treasure God the most? When thinking of this verse we have to remember who God is. We can often go into a view that if I treasure God the most, who will look after XYZ? If I don't control this situation, who will? If I don't fix this, if I don’t address this, if I don't watch this, if I don't. ME, ME, ME. Martha, Martha, Martha. If God is a good and loving Father would this not also be in His hands? If Jesus takes care of you, can he not also take care of that family member? That child? That job? That financial problem? Strength doesn't mean doing it all, it means giving it all to Christ.
So if we are able to give it all to Christ, that means we have time to breathe, we have time to sit at His feet, and we have time to LAUGH. When God is our focus, when He is our life, and our light, we can focus on being present WITH Christ.
The show “The Chosen” I think has done an incredible job at humanizing Christ, at showing Jesus as fully man, with a personality and quirks, and as a joyful man, a man who laughs. I hope that you can make an intentional choice to be more joyful, to laugh with Christ, and invite His joy into your daily routine.
I recently listened to this talk by Ted Cunningham on Focus on the Family. He shared about the importance and benefits of laughter, found in his book called “A Love that Laughs.” At the end of his talk he listed 15 reasons to laugh more, and I wanted to share them with you if you needed additional motivation to laugh more:
Laughter is therapeutic, and releases endorphins.
Laughter helps us to learn and opens us up for the truth.
Humor helps us cope. “Good humor makes all things tolerable.”
Laughter is free! No inflation on laughter!!
When we laugh we breathe in, it's a deep breath, this breath allows us to recentre and become more aware of ourselves, where we are and who we’re with.
Laughter burns calories: in fact you burn 40 calories for 10-15 minutes of laughter.
Laughter reduces tension in your entire body, and relieves stress.
Your body can't tell the difference between fake and real laughter. Fake it. Laugh right now. Out loud, you will probably end up laughing for real. LOL
Laughter and humor helps two people grow together; it connects us. Laugh with your friends, family, and partner.
Laughter diffuses social tension and awkwardness, it unites us.
Laughter makes you more attractive. So single ladies laugh it up at events and social gatherings.
Laughter humanizes us. Laugh at yourself: the happiest and healthiest people laugh at themselves.
Laughter pleases God. Laughter is not only human, it's biblical and pleasing to God.
Laughter ministers to others and brings joy to those around us.
Laughter reminds us of the hope of heaven.
“Heaven is the birthplace of laughter.” -Ted Cunningham
So I'll ask again, when was the last time you laughed?
Cunningham, Ted. A Love That Laughs: Lighten Up, Cut Loose, and Enjoy Life Together. Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 2020.