Yesterday, I was talking with an old friend who's been a constant source of encouragement for the last ten years. I figure that friends who stick with you for a decade are friends whose opinions are worth consideration, ya know? In talking with this friend, I realized that, in today's society, we're at a significant advantage and disadvantage simultaneously with the presence of social media. When I finish writing this blog in a few minutes, I'll use social media to post my words, hoping that a few people will read them and be encouraged. That's a huge advantage. I get to post celebratory statuses about my accomplishments and I get to publicly praise people that I'm proud to know, and I get to easily keep up with friends whom I haven't seen in years.
Social media allows us to post our best and most glamorous moments while creating an opportunity for us to lose touch with reality at the same time. I don't often post statuses on social media about being gripped with fear and panic on my bathroom floor after weeks of neglecting obvious signs of anxiety and stress. I don't often talk about how ashamed I feel walking into counseling appointments (this feeling has gotten better over time, thank God) not even knowing how to articulate my problems but knowing that I need help. I don't often talk about my struggle to love myself, even in a world that constantly says nice things about me. I had to explain to my friend about how my life was far from glamorous and even apologize for projecting a reality over the internet that didn't adequately portray my actual messy life.
And then there's laughter. I am of the personal opinion that a sign of time well spent is the onset and continuation of laughter. Hysterical laughter. Thankfully, I'm surrounded by some of the most hilarious people on planet Earth and I even get to call them friends. In the moments of my gravest desperation and pain, I think about who will make me laugh. And I call those people. Because I have recognized that laughter is healing. It is the reliever of heartache. It is the reminder of joy.
I'm reading this book by Ann Voskamp called "The Greatest Gift". It's a book full of daily devotionals of sorts that follow the real story of Christmas. It has encouraged me deep. Anyway, there's a "chapter" on laughter, and in it, Ann says the following:
"In the press of a dark world, laughter comes to the sufferers and the stressed as the reliever and then the reminder - that ache is not the last word for those that believe God. Jesus is. Jesus is the last word, and we can rejoice and rejoice again and re-joy again because grace is our oxygen now."In the book, Ann refers to laughter as "oxygenated grace," so as to infer that inasmuch as we breathe, we can embrace laughter as a gift. It heals. It relieves. It renews. It unites. I personally believe that laughter reveals the true character of a person. Those whom I can laugh with are those that I want to be with forever. I hope I never get to a place in life that I cannot find joy; I never want to find the place in life where I cannot BE joy. Because people recognize joy. They desire joy. And I don't necessarily want people to desire me, I want them to desire Jesus. If they see joy in me, they've seen Jesus in me. And that is so important.
I want to be known as one who laughs. I want to remember not to take myself too seriously. Help me remember these words, friends. And, if you haven't yet, go find the people who make you double over laughing, call them, ask them to make you laugh and exist in the momentary relief amidst a world full of pressures. Make joy your practice.