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Written by Justine Knight
From her column Around the Corneraround-the-corner-05-15-1

Here we are in the merry, merry month of May, famous for featuring Mother’s Day. Many in my biological family would have preferred for it be named the month of “Merry.”

Growing up in a remarkably humorous birth family, our mother reminded us in many ways of the joy of humor. She once said that as the wife of a pastor, she had all the problems he had—plus him! But she required us to turn off our happy faces whenever the organist or pianist began the opening notes in the morning worship service—not an easy thing to do for a child. Actually, it was very difficult to reset our laughter/humor buttons after the service had begun.

I should add, however, that we found her to be complicit in our humorous adventures, as Mom was the one who suggested we try to see fun elements in things we considered boring. Once, I protested that I did not want to sing in the choir on Sunday morning, because I became drowsy, and was fearful I would fall asleep (the sermon was boring to me). She suggested I look at different people in the audience, mentally replacing his/her face with the face of an animal. This was fun, and admittedly, helped me stay awake. I have often wondered which animal folks thought of when they looked at my face—probably a hyena!

When one of my young sons was chatting with my mother (his “Mamaw”), he tried to shock her by asking, "What is your favorite rock song?” “‘Rock of Ages,’” she shot back, not missing a beat. Uh… say what?

Former President John F. Kennedy once remarked, “There are three things which are real: God, human folly, and laughter. The first two are beyond our comprehension. So we must do what we can with the third.” My suggestion is that we look seriously at our definition of humor. Laughing for 10 minutes is as effective as running a mile or doing 100 jumping jacks.

On this scale, it is hard to imagine what my weight would be if I did not laugh a lot. It is much “funner” to laugh than to exercise. Laughter makes life enjoyable. It is more important to have fun than to be funny. Someone wrote, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. We should take ourselves lightly, but not our responsibilities.” Hmm…seriously?

Having fun is kind of like changing a baby’s diaper. It does not resolve the situation permanently, but it makes things better for a while. Humor helps us to keep our heads clear when dealing with difficult decisions (I’m not sure, but “let me be perfectly clear”).

I have a friend whose most meaningful response to anything is, “Seriously?” You and I likely could think of ways to jar her out of such a seemingly automatic response. Maybe she is attempting to avoid having to walk back her words.

Scripture teaches us that laughter may be good for us, or not so good. Genesis 17-18 describes the time when God told Abraham he was going to have a son in his old age, and Sarah was listening to the conversation. Abraham laughed and said, “No way.” Then, Sarah lied and said, “I didn’t laugh.” Seriously? Did they not know to whom they were talking? Reminds me of small children arguing…”Did,” “Did not,” “Did too.” Oh, my. No wonder God has such a time with us humans.

Still, our Heavenly Father wants us to rejoice and be glad—maybe, even laugh. We read in Matthew 5:12, “Rejoice and be glad.” Perhaps we can translate it as “Rejoice and be merry.”


Justine Knight was raised in a parsonage and married to a Nazarene minister for more than 50 years.

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