Laugh­ing with Aban­don

Activated - - NEWS - By Theresa Nel­son Theresa Nel­son lives in Mis­souri, USA, with her hus­band and two chil­dren. Her writ­ing of­ten points read­ers to God and has ap­peared in over 50 pub­li­ca­tions.

How easy it is to lis­ten to the ad­vice of oth­ers and change our­selves into some­thing we are not. To quit be­ing our unique and won­der­fully made selves. To base our worth on what oth­ers think in­stead of what God thinks.

An el­derly fam­ily mem­ber came for a visit. “A lady does not laugh with her mouth wide open, head thrown back, sub­mit­ting all view­ers to the spec­ta­cle of her ton­sils,” she ad­vised.

I was crushed. “Do I re­ally laugh like that?”

She did an imi­ta­tion of me that was pretty fright­en­ing.

I grew care­ful. I would catch my­self laugh­ing, en­joy­ing the mo­ment, but then my rel­a­tive’s words and im­per­son­ation would flash through my thoughts. So I’d close my mouth a lit­tle to shield spec­ta­tors from the sight of my back teeth, lower my chin un­til I was look­ing straight ahead, and try to re­lax my lips into a smaller, more con­trolled shape and man­ner.

I wanted to en­joy life, laugh with aban­don, but my self-con­scious­ness haunted me and was steal­ing my joy. “A joy­ful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

1 Then one day I for­got and laughed like I had be­fore. The sun kept shin­ing. No one said my ton­sils were un­usu­ally shaped. No one moved away call­ing me a hyena. I be­gan laugh­ing again, en­joy­ing the sound and rhythm.

One day while in Ire­land with fam­ily, my daugh­ter, who loves to snap pic­tures un­awares, took a can­did cam­era photo of me laugh­ing. It is one of my fa­vorite images.

We had stopped on the side­walk dur­ing our walk around Dublin and had started jok­ing with each other. In the pic­ture I am shar­ing a laugh with my dad. My arm is reach­ing out to touch him, my head is tip­ping back, my mouth is open­ing wide, and I am laugh­ing. Not just with my voice and lips, but with my whole body. My whole spirit.

Psalm 4:7 says, “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.”

2 That’s how I want to ap­proach life. Laugh­ing. Truly laugh­ing and en­joy­ing this tem­po­ral, messy, and yet so mys­te­ri­ous life that is God’s gift to me. I want to laugh with aban­don be­cause God is on my side and He also has a sense of hu­mor. Just look at a platy­pus.

1. Proverbs 17:22 ESV

2. ESV

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