There is a time for everything… a time to weep and a time to laugh. Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4
A while back, he was laughing at something that made absolutely no sense to me. When I asked him about it, he said, “That’s the best part about being a kid.” I thought he was referring to what he was laughing about, so I asked him to explain it to me. His response was, “Laughing. Kids laugh way more than grown-ups. And it feels good.” Then he paused for a moment and added, “To tell you the truth, grown-ups don’t laugh much.”
His words hit me hard. It felt like it wasn’t Mason talking: it was God talking to me through Mason, telling me that I’m taking it all too seriously. Obviously I was the grown-up Mason was talking about, and I haven’t been laughing much lately.
Some college friends organized an informal weekend reunion in the Berkshires last summer that I wasn’t able to attend due to health reasons. I hadn’t seen some of those people in over twenty-five years. So when they organized it again for this summer, I was bound and determined to go.
From the minute I got into my friend’s car for the three hour drive there, it was like traveling backwards in time, stepping back into my college years. The greatest care I had then was making it to an 8 a.m. class, or finding a coin operated washing machine that wasn’t busy. I was young, healthy, energetic, and full of dreams. I had a lightness of being that nothing, or no one, could weigh down. I was silly and adventurous and ready for anything.
Magically, I was that girl all weekend. And the greater magic was how much I laughed: not just a “ha-ha” or a chuckle, but deep, bent over at the waist belly laughs (where I actually did pee just a little bit. I’ve had three kids, after all!). I laughed so hard and so much over the course of those forty-eight hours that I came home with a sore throat.
It was the best sore throat that I have ever had! It was my trophy: an affirmation that I do have a joyful heart, that I can still be so silly that I laugh until I can’t breath, until I scrape my throat raw. Proverbs 17:22 says “A joyful heart is good medicine.” That weekend was absolutely the best medicine for me. I came home happier, lighter than I have been in a while.
I’ve thought a lot about that weekend, and the shift that happened in me. I’ve wondered why I had to escape my life in order to laugh that hard. I truly do love my husband and kids, and I have never felt so fulfilled as I do as a mom. Moreover, my husband and kids are actually very funny people. I should be laughing that hard on a daily basis, in my own home, but I don’t.
Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for everything… a time to weep and a time to laugh.” I think there’s also a time to be a mom, and a time to be just me. I think that’s the point: we are not supposed to be swallowed whole by our vocation. If I don’t take breaks, if I don’t step away and refill and refuel, I lose myself, become too heavy, weighted down by all the “to do’s” on my list and in my life. Deep laughter only happens when I feel light.
My kids are getting older; they’re becoming more independent. It’s not as challenging now to get some space. I need to remember my weekend away and the lesson that I learned. If I can routinely create some space where I can refill and refuel, be just me and not a mom, I’ll be better able to maintain my joyful heart. Once that happens, hopefully I’ll be belly laughing, on a regular basis, in my own home.
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