“Childish.” “Immature.” “Embarrassing.” “Spaz.”
What links these four seemingly random words? I was called each of them within the past 12 hours, mostly by my brother. I do have a reason for my unusual Tani joy today. Not only was I having a horrible few days (which for some reason always makes me bizarrely happy) but I had humiliated myself during the weird Byzantine Mass today. It came to a head, though, when we went to a banquet after said Mass. See, one of the local Catholic schools signed up to be the servers. A school where one of my best friends, Jesse, attends. So, I was of course shocked he was there, and he was shocked I was there, and we talked for about 20 minutes after the banquet (totally making fools of ourselves, but that’s really the best thing about Jesse. A person can be a fool around Jesse without feeling like he disapproves or he judges. He rockeths muchly.)
Anyway, I was so happy to be seeing him that Pavel (typical sourpuss that he is) had to get after me for being TOO HAPPY.
Is there such a thing?
Well, most people think that to be a Christian, one must be dour and doleful, constantly berating oneself for one’s sins, and talking to God as an all-powerful Master Overlord, rather than the font of all love and life and joy that He is. We see Jesus as a grave but kind judge.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I was reading a book called “Between Heaven and Mirth” by James Martin, about the necessity of joy and humor in the spiritual life. Jokes and humor are a very important part of being a good Christian. To live one’s life joyfully, every last blessed second as a praise to God, is our duty as Christians. Humor gives us a link to God, who is joy incarnate, and therefore is good.
There are, of course, two different types of humor. One is the positive kind, and the best kind of this is poking fun at one’s self (not only funny, but it builds humility. But no insulting yourself, remember!) there is also clean jokes and stories, certain practical jokes (like jumping out a closet wearing a Jack the Ripper mask and costume) and the random accidental slapstick that happens every day (slipping on a banana peel, saying a wrong word, etc.)
As one of my favorite books says, “negative humor is from hell, send it back!” This includes sarcasm, cynicism, insults, and laughter at a particular person. Never, ever, ever the right way to praise God. Because, seriously dudes, if every moment of our earthly lives is supposed to be a joyful hymn to God, that sort of humor is like putting a rap from Eminem in the middle of it. It RUINS THE SONG.
Jesus himself was a humorist. Though we don’t get it, a great many of his parables would have been uproarious to is audience 2000 years ago! Jesus even used some risqué humor at times (not going into that here.) and his audience loved it. Jesus was also a joyful person, or nobody would ever have followed him! Many people choose to ignore this aspect, or haven’t thought of it, because we Jesus as serious, intimidating. But he was human, and part of human nature is the ability to create and enjoy joy and humor.
So, in conclusion, never be afraid of being to “joyful,” or even “spazzy.” Yes, sometimes seriousness is called for (courtrooms, funerals) but God gave you your joy and your wonder, so go, enjoy life!
Love to all!