I’ve heard little laughter over the past two years or so (COVID-19 pandemic), so I thought I’d liven things up with a little story.
A LONG time ago, in my first country of service, I was heading to the store with friends. We’d been out for a while and decided to stop by our nearby grocery before heading home. Riding in the taxi with the windows down, I was done in (that’s a Southern phrase) by the heat. Even though I was wearing a large West African boubou (a loose-fitting long dress), I was leaking underneath my heat-retaining bra.
We continued to wind through the streets, starting and stopping with the heavy traffic. I had enough. I easily maneuvered under my boubou, released the clasp of my bra and let it fall in my lap under my dress.
Whew, that was a relief.
We finally made it to the grocery, where we paid the driver and went inside to shop. I got what I needed, paid, and walked the short way to our homes down the street. By the time I got home, I realized I was missing something—my bra!
Horrified and embarrassed, there was no way I was going to go looking for it. I had no idea where it was. Afterwards, while talking with colleagues, I gingerly mentioned my dilemma. That’s when one of our single male colleagues said, “Oh, I saw that. It was posted on the corkboard at the grocery.”
Yep, I stayed away from there for quite some time!
Why do I tell you such a tale? Well, hopefully, to get you to let out a laugh or at least smile. It was funny, after all, though very embarrassing at the time. I also share this as a reminder that we need to remember such stories from life on mission.
It’s important to be able to laugh at ourselves.
Though our call to serve the cause of Christ is serious, it does not mean that we have to take ourselves too seriously. We all make mistakes, do or say dumb things, and generally mess up in life. I could probably write a book about all the mistakes I’ve made in learning foreign languages. Do I let them make me mad at myself and give up? No, I sometimes just have to laugh them off, realizing they are part of the process.
Retelling funny stories lifts our spirits when times are hard.
I think this is why family and friends often share funny stories when gathered for a funeral. We want to remember the things that made us smile about our loved ones; the things that made us happy. It’s also a good way to remember the places you’ve served with colleagues. Missionary reunions are filled with laughter as stories are shared of the crazy things that have happened on the field.
Funny stories remind us that God works despite us.
When I reveal my fallible cracks as a human being, I’m allowing God to shine through to his glory. My silly failings make it even more abundantly clear that God uses cracked pots. I’m not sure how my story helped me at the time, but when I reflect on it, I can see how it smoothed my perfectionistic edges right off. After all, I was one who went to Africa with permed hair and an ironed linen shirt. A few weeks later I had lice and a tie-dyed blouse.
Laughter sheds light on the dark days of depression and despair.
I think this is one thing I enjoyed seeing during the early lockdowns of the pandemic—families having fun together. Some made crazy music videos or wrote “special” lyrics for the season. Others built tents in their living rooms or played games with the kids. Whatever the idea, they were centered around fun and laughter, and boy, did we need it. There are days on the field when missionaries need to just do something fun or crazy to break the cloud of seriousness that weighs them down.
Be purposeful in your aim to laugh.
When I was overseas, my mother sent me a blue file folder with this verse:
With that, were words about the importance of having a special feel-good file by Kathie Kania, along with this short prayer that I trust you will remember:
Dear Lord, someone has rightly said, “Don’t forget in the darkness what God told you in the light.” Thank you today for my “light” times.
May the light times of life help you to persevere through the dark by his…
Grace and Peace