For the past 14 years, I have chosen a word as my theme for the year. (Trust me, this is much better than a list of resolutions. For starters, there’s a much greater chance I’ll actually remember my goal for the year come March. And for a recovering perfectionist like me, this leaves a lot more room for grace. You can’t really fail a word, right?)
At any rate, my word is typically something with some meat to it—something I can study and read about and really dig into in the coming year. As 2017 came to a close, my husband cracked a joke and I quipped, “Maybe my goal for next year should be to laugh more.” Daniel looked at me, eyebrows raised, and it struck me that maybe this wasn’t just a joke.
What if my theme for the year really was to laugh more? At first glance, it sounded too easy, like I would be getting away with something. But as I thought about it more, it occurred to me that this isn’t as easy as it sounds. If I wanted to embrace a year of more laughter, it wasn’t going to happen automatically. I would have to be intentional about it.
I don’t know about you, but I find that so many reactions bubble to the surface before laughter. When something comes my way during any given typical day, I might worry, plan, stew, get a snack, or talk it over with a friend. But how often do I laugh?
Not long ago I went back to work after maternity leave, and I have found that this life stage leaves me with a lot of balls to juggle and plenty of opportunities to drop them. Only maybe balls isn’t the right metaphor, because the stakes feel a lot higher than that. Juggling torches, perhaps? At any rate, I feel like I have become pretty efficient and productive in this season of life—stashing meals in the freezer, working like a madwoman during naptime, squeezing the most out of every spare moment.
This is good . . . to some degree. But there’s a dark side to donning my super-efficiency cape, and that’s that I can become a version of myself that I don’t really like. I can check off all the things from my list but become a not-very-fun person in the process. Here’s the thing: I have been given so many beautiful, gracious gifts, and I don’t want to be so busy and productive that I don’t have time to enjoy them.
I want to be interruptible.
I want to have margin to waste time with the people I love.
I want have space to breathe, to savor, to be.
I want to laugh more.
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. . . . A time to cry and a time to laugh.
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4
Are you in a season of laughter right now, or are you in a season of tears? And I wonder . . . is it possible for those seasons to coexist? What if we could laugh in the midst of a crying season, and cry in the midst of a laughing season?
In The Return of the King, the hobbit Sam has this lovely exchange with Gandalf, and it brings a lump to my throat every time:
“Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?”
“A great Shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count.
If you haven’t heard the sound of pure merriment for days upon days without count, I would love for you to join me in this quest toward more laughter—toward holy laughter.
I can tell you already, I’m not going to be able to do this alone, so I would love your help. What has made you laugh recently? Are there books that make you laugh? Certain movies or shows that crack you up? Favorite jokes? If so, please share them!