When was the last time you laughed? Like a good, old-fashioned, belly-aching laugh? And I don’t mean laughing at yourself or your circumstances, not a giggle at miscommunication or flustered speech. I mean a laugh that emanates from pure joy and carefreeness, at something truly hilarious, when your heart sighs, thinking, “Oh, this feels so good, let’s remember it forever.”
My last laugh was last week, and boy, was it a week when I needed it.
Those days were rough: my husband’s work schedule was unpredictable, kids were sent to and from various appointments, I had a few too many responsibilities on my plate, and I was spending way too much time paying attention to bad news back home. My heart felt low and in anguish over something I couldn’t control and the covers of my bed seemed to offer the only comfort available. (Sadly, Brexit has not done wonders for the availability and the price of Ben & Jerry’s in these parts, but I digress.)
On one such day, my sister used what I’m sure is some sort of telepathy to text me the perfect cure.
What could that possibly be? I’m so glad you asked!
Friends, my last good laugh was to Saturday Night Live’s sketch, Crucible Cast Party, and I can’t even tell you how much I needed it (this is your good Christian disclaimer: ’tis a bit risqué). Everything about this sketch brought to mind a gloriously embarrassing memory from my high school drama years, and I maybe watched it a half dozen times.
Laughter is the best medicine and comedy the cure for just about all things that ail me.
I suffer – or perhaps those around me suffer – a lot of foibles during my days. We (mostly) share a common language with our host culture, and even after five years, I still fumble over words, finding myself confused, anxious and mentally exhausted.
I’m sure I could share hilarious anecdotes with you (one time in particular comes to mind: running out of gas between two major roundabouts, our mobile phone provider out of service for several hours, a three-year-old munching on twisty fries from McDonalds, asking, “Why we no go, Mummy? Why you crying?”), but honestly, this month?
This month I just feel weary, and stressed, and quieted, and lonely.
My miscues don’t feel funny anymore; I’m not likely to share them from the front of a supporting church anytime soon or include them in our latest prayer update. I wonder when I’m gonna get it already (whatever “it” is), when I’ll be above it, when I won’t feel like such an amateur, when I’ll be able to mine the wild and unpredictable for comic gold (and a sermon illustration, to boot).
I want to be like that fabulously independent, self-assured and take charge lady of Proverbs 31: I want to laugh, not just at the days we’ve survived, but at the days to come.
So while I wait for that laughing fit to hit, I’m partaking in a bit of comedy self-care.
When U.S. politics make me feel like I’m taking crazy pills, I seek out Leslie Knope and her hilarious band of Parks & Recreation do-gooders. When village life feels hard to maneuver, I tuck into Stars Hollow with my Gilmore Girls. When I miss my dad and his badge-toting antics, check in with the Brooklynn Nine Nine. When news radio gets me down, I walk with the Popcast and chuckle to my earbuds all around the neighbourhood (my dog also thinks it’s hilarious; strangers do not).
Okay, sure, these are all the things (TV! <gasp!> Passport culture! <for shame!>) we’re told to guard our hearts from lest we become The Ugly American and go all isolationist on our host culture. But I’m here to confess: sometimes I just need to laugh at things I know, at things I get, at things that make me feel like me again.
That belly-aching, free-spirited, top-of-the-lungs laugh fills up my emotional reserves like liquid courage. Laughter resuscitates my heart and gets my whole being beating again.
So here’s the secret I want to share with you: you’ve got a thing. For most of us, laughter just might do the trick, but maybe it’s something else (or many something elses). Maybe your thing is playing the piano, singing in the car at the top of your lungs or playing board games with friends. Whatever it is, there’s something that you just get and it just gets you. When you do it, you feel like your old self again, not the professional Christian or overseas worker.
You’re still just you. And sometimes, a little reminder wouldn’t hurt.
So take some time this week and find that thing. Don’t be ashamed of it, don’t apologize for it. Embrace it. Let it remind you who you are and how God created you.
God created me to write and to sing and to make friends with librarians and to share cups of coffee. He even created me to share burdens, sorrows and tears.
But he also created me to laugh, and to laugh very, very loud.
And, wouldn’t you know it? I feel better already.
What’s your go-to for comedic relief? Is there a film or TV show specific to your host culture that we simply must know about (I’ll link to a couple of Irish/British goodies in the comments)? What other types of self-care help you feel like you?