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A Time to Laugh

Regardless of their outward appearance, being a funny dude is the' milkshake (jokes) that will forever bring all the girls to the yard. It's just something about slapping a guy on the shoulder and throwing your head back to let out a boisterous, almost snorting laugh. #ahfuntimes

I don't know everything, but I do know more people would rather laugh than cry, and others laugh, so they don't cry. Either way, many people stand by the belief that laughter is like medicine to the soul.

As a kid, I've always been told to stop grinning like an ole chessy-cat. My brother could say moo, and I'd be keeling over like he was the headliner of the original Kings of Comedy. But as I got older, laughter became my defence mechanism, bursting out at the most inopportune times, causing me to come across as silly rather than nervous.

Other times, I could type 'LOL' eleventeen million times in a day and never crack a smile. During those pretentious spells, I found myself watching hours of comedic specials to pull myself out of a mental funk. I would pop jokes like emotional ibuprofen, and just like the actual drug, the high of that good old chuckle wore off rather quickly.

It is common to laugh out of shock or disbelief, as well as out of amazement or joy. Naturally, I asked myself, exactly how long does laughter's medicinal benefits last? Is it a be-all, end-all cure, or is it a temporary fix to mask how we truly feel? Realistically, how much laughter does one need to erase what may feel like a lifetime of getting the messy end of the stick?

On the flip side, laughter can hurt others. Namely, when geared toward making a mockery of folks in the name of entertainment. These instances are often rooted in sarcasm and done in a spirit of maliciousness. You know, when one needs to flex their superiority.

Laughter, too, can be thoughtless. Which is watered down by the phrase, "You'll don't take nothing seriously!" It can also be off-putting when you learn people are laughing at you rather than with you. In those situations, to survive, people hide their real feelings behind the guise of learning to laugh at themselves. Kevin Hart embodied this best when he created a whole tour titled 'Laugh at my Pain.' Only his misery secured his bag; most are not as fortunate.

No matter how grim life is, humour is usually not far behind. In that vein, I maintain that 'church' has to be the funniest place on earth. But ironically, it's also one of the places I feel people can use a shot of 'lighten up,' followed by a 'chill-out' chaser. You'll find most charismatic preachers have perfected the art of storytelling to help break the tension. In most cases, people are more receptive as a result.

I'll tell ya; this was not always the case. Growing up in church, I thought it was mandatory to look serious and be deep once you become a Christian. To crack a smile had to be an abomination, and I won't talk 'bout laughter 'cause that must have been blasphemy. Yet, despite our personal biases, Solomon asserts that no matter what comes before or after, laughter is on life's schedule. It doesn't need specifics, parameters, rhyme, or reason; all it needs is for you to comply.

Sarah, Abraham's wife, came to mind as I recalled how she laughed in disbelief at what, to her, had to be 'thee' most ridiculous news. Picture it, at the ripe age of 89, someone telling you; you're about to give birth! #chileplease "To what, Mister?" would have been my question. But there Sarah was, ears pinned to a tent, eavesdropping on a conversation between her husband and some guests (angels), "Sir, your wife is gonna have a son!" #jokes #aintnowayboy Ain't. No. Way! Listen, I get it 'cause a forty-something-year-old me thinks, where on God's green earth am I going with a young baby? #issahardpass

Now, don't get me wrong, I ain't saying it can't happen to me, although I've long since abandoned the thought. I'm just saying; that I can see how the very idea of this to Sarah was laughable. So much so that prior to that, Abraham, too, laughed. Only for him, it was in amazement at God's announcement of this promised son. Talk about insert side-eye emoji.

In reality, Abraham was a senior citizen, 'bout to collect his pension. Imagine being all of 99-years-old hearing, "Monsieur, thou shalt be somebody's daddy!" Bear in mind this wasn't on the off chance of Sarah getting caught on the menopause rollout! No, this was the plan! #saywhatnow

I'm convinced it was Abraham who coined the phrase, "God MUST have a sense of humour!" The age of this couple alone was a prime example of when the math ain't mathing. #jokesfordays

I want you to consider a baby for a moment. You'll notice that kids will laugh before they can talk. Even if a child is deaf or dumb, regardless of language or creed, they giggle. How often have you seen the Tik-Tok that suggests playing this sound for your child (a sound of another baby giggling)? Do you see what happens? That child was more likely to reply in kind. I'm sure you'd agree that when we see or hear someone else laughing, or at the very least smiling, we are more inclined to do the same. It's safe to assume that laughter is contagious. Sadly, somewhere along the road, we've lost that childlike liberty to just 'be.'

Believe it or not, laughter has emotional benefits. It includes the release of tension and depression. When you laugh, your muscles are free from pressure and remain in a resting position. In other words, laughter is God's built-in alarm that shouts, "Hey you, relax, aye!" Besides a stimulus-response, researchers found that laughing also helps to reduce inflammation and lower stress hormones while improving circulation and enhancing one's immune system. #laughtermeplease

All this leads me to question, 'Why would Solomon regard laughter as necessary enough to remind us that time has been allocated for it? I believe that after you would have wept, the only thing that can help alleviate some of that burden is merriment. And, of course, maybe 100 million dollars. #ikid

Can you recall experiencing something so traumatic that you asked yourself, "Will I ever laugh again?" Trust me; you will. Life is in no short supply of things to find funny. Think of it as the antidote to sadness.

In Solomon's previous book, he writes, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Proverbs 17:22 KJV It's as if he was foretelling the good news that doctors now confirm—laughing boosts our resistance to disease, releases endorphins, and reduces anxiety.

Is it possible that sometimes the tension in your body is simply a result of a lack of joy? But don't confuse joy with happiness. Joy transcends while happiness reacts. In that case, perhaps your ailment has little to do with an actual physical problem but more to do with you allowing life to zap you of any semblance of hope.

There was this one time my chronic pain had gone into remission. Shortly after, I began having issues in my relationship, which soon affected my job. I had internalized all that hurt though I cried every day for six months straight. I became sulky, introverted, and closed myself off. On day seven of my wailing marathon, my body immediately started manifesting pain in the weirdest places. It was so bad that I had to double my usual med dosage. What should have squashed my pain barely made it tolerable. Whew, chall! The instant laughter left the building; my whole body, mind and spirit followed suit.

There I was, lamenting to this lady's son about how he'd 'made' me be all in my feelings. His reply, "Raquel, I can't make you feel or do anything!" Even though I still don't entirely agree with that sentiment (another story for another day), I could see the logic in it being my responsibility to manage and regulate my feelings.

It wasn't until I started to surround myself with friends and began doing the things I enjoyed that the hurt started to subside. Seemly laughter was the thing that pulled me from a dark place. I'm not saying after one good chuckle, the feeling vanished, but it was a process of making a conscious decision to reclaim my joy.

I learned a valuable lesson from that particular relationship. I became more aware that I alone was in charge of my emotions. Suddenly it became apparent that, as with most things we decide to be intentional about, I needed to find not only reasons to but make time to laugh genuinely.

Hear me, I'm not saying that nothing ever gets me down anymore, but I've since implemented a 4 -step routine. I first start by disclosing all the feelings and emotions in prayer. This step often needs repeating. Once I get it all out, I watch some good ole comedy to jump-start the laughter engine. If I'm in the mood to talk, I'll dial up a friend who I know will give comedic relief and sound encouragement. Lastly, I sit in my happy place (the beach), reflect on those moments in my life when I felt the most contentment and give thanks. By this time, I'm more sober to begin jotting down what lessons the experience has taught me.

Like Sarah, we sometimes laugh in disbelief. This surfaces when we realize others can identify giftings in us that we are hell-bent on not acknowledging. You know, when we want to remain invisible, but everything about us screams forefront. Or, like Abraham, we can laugh in amazement when we've been blessed with something we feel undeserving or unqualified for. But I truly believe that God wants us to laugh with joy. Sarah said, "God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me." Genesis 21:6 NIV Herein, we see an iconic example of it's only crazy til it happens.

We have perhaps all heard it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown. But even if a person smiles, know that some smiles are revealing and others are concealing. #takeyapick Either way, you may need to approach laughter like exercise to get out of your slump. Despite your apprehension, you will soon discover that doing so is more beneficial than detrimental. As the infamous Sunday school song goes, smile a while and give your face a rest!

I don't believe it is a coincidence that laughter follows weeping on Solomon's list of seasons. Making time to laugh, or allowing yourself to do so, should be considered a form of self-care. An old Jewish Proverb says, "As soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul."

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