“Laughter is the best medicine” so they say. This commonly used phrase is a reference to Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”
Yet, for survivors laughter is a rare commodity to come by. We often spend most of our days under a heavy cloud. This cloud rains upon us the present storms and floods of the past. Despair, confusion, anxiety, loss, grief, longing, endurance, struggle, fight, numbness and restlessness. It is true that this cloud takes, rather than giving the refreshing rain. It is a cloud of winter rather than the rejuvenation that comes with spring showers.
Our bones hurt, body aches, head pounds, soul despairs and we fatigue. Yet, some part of us straps on our rain boots and we keep trudging through that darkness. Every day, one step, one moment at a time. I marvel at our collective strength. How do we do it?
Inside each of our souls is a spark of joy. That joy is there and ready to strengthen and grow. This joy is rooted under the soggy ground – she’s ready to flourish. Joy is there to help you connect to self, God and others. She is there to nourish and provide the resolve to continually enter the fight. When joy is activated – she embraces us, upholds and gives us the reserve to face the darkness head on. She helps us to integrate our pain as it continues to be processed.
How do we connect to joy?
Joy strength opens up our relational circuits making it easier to connect to God, self and others. Relational circuits contained in the pre-frontal cortex are what helps us be open, relational and remain in Shalom. When we are connecting to joy we increase our capacity to move through daily life stress and our pain.
Ways to connect
Appreciation and Gratitude
Greeting a friend (my face is happy to see your face! True delight)
Making eye contact and smiling at someone
Watching YouTube videos of babies and cats that do hilarious things
Calling a friend
Meeting up with your community for a fun activity
Engaging in a hobby that brings you happiness
Recently, I have been able to laugh in ways that I never thought possible. I have not laughed in a very, very long time. Not like this, this kind of laughter is stomach hurting, face pain and crying because your laughing so hard! The Lord has been so kind to expand my family yet again – and this brought with it a new gift. The gift of laughter.
Can laughter reflect the heart of God? What does my laughter say about who God is? How is my laughter like God, for I am made in His Image? What is this laughter doing for my body, can it be healing?
Maybe laughter and a joyful spirit is Holy. A holy worship, a holy prayer and a holy petition of thanks.
When the Lord told Abraham that Sarah would have a son and his name would be Isaac, Sarah overheard this news. Culturally – she should not have been a part of this conversation – women were not involved nor should be present when two men are talking, even if those men were making decisions for the woman involved.
The Lord asked Sarah… did you laugh? She immediately said “No” and denied this. Was it that the laughter was bad or mocking? Or, was her guilty conscience from the fact that she had broken a cultural rule and didn’t want to get caught. Could the Lord have been questioning Sarah about her laughter as a way to say, “Sarah! This is a wonderful and a marvelous thing I can do.. laugh it up girl! This is from my heart – it brings me great JOY to knock the socks off of my children – you should be laughing! I’m laughing too!” Perhaps Sarah was laughing WITH God rather than AT God.
In Hebrew, the word laugh in this passage is Tsachaq, which when broken apart consists of sade “humility and submission to God,” chet indicates “a joining with God,” and qof means “a new beginning with God.” Author Chaim Bentorah writes, “The sade and chet would suggest that Sarah was laughing with God, not at God. The word would then imply that this laughter springs from the joy of the Lord. It would also suggest that God Himself was laughing.”
When I look back on my emotional memories with the Lord, His track record over time of trust and faithfulness in my life – I am filled with delight, warm fuzzies and deep internal joy and contentment. His behavior matches His words and He has promised me consistency for the rest of my days here on Earth. I have JOY in that wonderful promise. Maybe my HOLY laughter is an outpouring of that type of security.
I can take a step back and see that just like Sarah, God has done a wonderful and AMAZING thing that I never thought would be possible. He plucked me out of a cult, a broken family system, a marriage marred by evil. He brought me to the broad place and wrapped his cloak of love over my shoulders, he looked at me and said, “My love, I have something so much better for you.” Walk with me and I will guide you along this way.
Shouldn’t the manifestation of that daily remembrance be laughter? Like, Proverbs 31 declares, “She is clothed in dignity and strength, she laughs at the times to come.” I believe this is Holy laughter. The engaging of petition of thanks, prayer and joy – all with one burst of sound that escapes from my lungs. A deep place that hasn’t been touched for years.
I can laugh because I know the marvelous and wonderful consistency of my Creator. The more I discover what God’s heart is all about and where I belong in it, the more I begin to mimic what He is feeling and what He wants for me. If he weeps for the sadness in my life, I weep too. If He is dancing at my victories over the self-critic or my distorted beliefs, I dance in victory too. And if He is laughing because He is delighting in His daughter’s happiness, then I laugh too. My laughter is named qof “a new beginning with God.”
Abraham and Sarah experienced their new beginning with God, by receiving their child Isaac. God really has a sense of humor because Isaac’s name literally means, “he will laugh”. In addition, it contains a special ‘yod in front of it, representing a message from heaven – to name a child “laughter” is to describe a heavenly, holy laughter. (Hebrew Word Study, Ben Chaim)
Laughter is not a distraction from all things holy, reverent and God-like. To engage in laughter is not to be a fool or forget about God – it is to ENGAGE with God. It is to revere and worship God. It is to engage in His holy delight. It is to commune with him and draw me closer to his heart.
I will taste the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Sometimes that looks like sobs into my pillow knowing that Jesus is there holding me and stroking my hair. It might look like tears of relief when I get a gift card to Target – covering the rest of my grocery expenses for the month. It also may look like laughter because you can’t contain yourself in the midst of funny and loving expressions.
All of these things and more remind me that this relationship with God is a very real one – when you are connected to someone you love, there will be times of intense sorrow and laughter – you will feel what the other feels and no matter what feeling it is – you want to share it with each other. This is God. Interconnected with heavenly hysterics.
My Dear Sister,
I know that it is so hard to come by laughter. Laughter can feel strange when we have spent so long isolated in the dark.
Take it slow. Find one thing to connect to, a silly meme, a cat jumping onto a screen door, a baby laughing. Cling to that small moment and let the giggle resonate in your spirit – God created that crazy cat and he’s laughing too!
Share it with a friend – build up that joy by sharing your laughter. The laughter will penetrate into parts of your body and it will calm your nervous system. Laughter’s benefits can remain in our bodies for up to 45 minutes even after the laughter is over!
Laughter will give you a short recess from your pain -and it will build your capacity to begin again tomorrow. I love this quote by Milton Berle, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”
Know that when you are engaging in laughter – it is divine and it is holy. It comes from the Papa’s heart, he is laughing and delighting in you. I believe he has such joy watching his beautiful baby girl in a moment of happiness.
Here’s to all the giggles and the joy that you can find, no matter how small!