We can make other people feel welcome and comfortable if we have fun with them. This idea of lightening up reminds us of the basics of heartfelt rapport in relationships: laughing, smiling, even common courtesy. This practice can help us serious types understand when to keep connections natural and enjoyable. If we want to allow for friendship, we must have some points of levity with plain fun.
When my husband and I started dating, he had a picture in his apartment of what is known as Laughing Jesus. It’s a sketch of Jesus with his head thrown back, his mouth open, having a good laugh. There is joy there. Over twenty years later, the picture still takes me off guard because it’s not how I think of Jesus or how I see him reflected in other depictions.
Laughter and humor can cut the tension in the moment. Sometimes people need a reprieve from the intensity, whether we’re in the middle of a one-on-one conversation or a group discussion, or we’re giving a talk in front of a group. We’ve all been there, feeling the weight of the subject matter or the conflict creating a pressure-cooker environment. Then someone cracks a joke, and there is a collective sigh of relief that the awkwardness has been acknowledged and at least we can still laugh together.
We can spend much of our time deciding what is worth our time, even what is worth God’s attention. But Jesus knew the celebration mattered. What was his first miracle? He turned water into wine at a wedding. He could have saved his first miracle for the hard hitters, not some party drinks.
When we connect on lighter matters, we remember our neighbors aren’t just people we are obligated to love; they are people we can enjoy. If we’ve moved through awkward moments and stuck it out, we’ve moved toward deeper relationship and toward love.
May we be people known for our joy as much as we are known for our work. In a time where we don’t have to go looking for bad news, may we find some good things to commemorate and applaud as a form of love. We have good news to celebrate; may we be known for doing that well.
What is one activity or area of your life that makes your heart lighter? How can you connect with neighbors on this front?