I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
2:Am on a January morning in 2001 I rush out of my apartment and down the steps into the parking lot to drive to UPS where I worked. My car is not in its regular space. I walk up and down the parking lot and can’t find it anywhere! I finally realize my 2001 green Hyundai Accent has been stolen. I go back inside and call UPS. I then called the police department and they came out and took a report. As soon as the insurance company opened I called and they told me to go get a rental car. I called my friend David Mellandorf who came by on his lunch break to pick me up and take me to get the rental car. On our way to the rental car agency we pass Taco Bueno, like Taco Bell only better. I asked David if he wanted to stop for a bite at Taco Bueno and that’s when it hit me! Last night I was doing my laundry at the apartment laundry mat. After throwing my clothes in the dryer I went to Taco Bueno for a burrito. On my way back I drove straight to the laundry mat to get my clothes. Not used to driving to the laundry mat I then walked back to my apartment, put my clothes away and went to bed. I got up and rushed to my car forgetting that I had left it at the laundry mat the night before! Once I reaized what I had done I called the apartments on my cell phone and sure enough they said my car was right there at the laundry mat! I had reported my car stolen and missed a day of work just because I forgot where I parked my car.
The next Sabbath, when I went to preach in Breckenridge there was a note in the bulletin saying, “William your car is in the church parking lot. Don’t forget it when you leave.” All of my friends gave me a hard time for that and even today my friends from Texas will ask me if I have lost my car lately. It was a dumb mistake but it has been good for a few laughs over the years.
This week’s SS lesson talks about the importance of a cheerful heart and good humor. People with a sense of humor live happier and longer. Yet having a good sense of humor does not mean that you think everything is humorous. It just means you can sense what is humor and what is not. Since the general consensus concludes that I have a sense of humor, I have taken it upon myself to make some rules on joking around. Here they are:
Rule # 1: Don’t Tease People About Things They Can’t Control.
I love to laugh with my friends and make fun of myself about the “stolen car” incident. However years earlier I had another car in Texas with no air conditioning. One of my friends would tease me about it in the hundred degree dry Texas heat. Let me tell you something. While you are sitting still at an eternal red light, sweat dripping, in the 100 plus degree heat, no air conditioning is not funny! There was nothing I could do about it. Once I had the money for air conditioning they no longer made my model of car and no A/C was available. I had no control over the situation. You could have teased me about being a Texas Rangers fan even when they were the worst team in the league, but I chose them and could chose another team anytime I wanted. I was stuck with that car in the 100 degree Texas heat.
Rule #2 Let People Know When You are Just Joking.
Just because I tell one joke does not mean I joke around all the time. Some people don’t know that. You tell them just one joke and somehow they decide that’s all you do. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I may laugh harder than anyone else when I laugh, but you know what? I also cry harder than anyone else when I cry, and I do cry. I love my life and I vividly sense all of it, the good and the bad. For those who cannot tell when I am joking or being serious here is a clue. I don’t lie. If you ask me “are you joking” I will tell you right away yes or no. I may pull your leg until you ask me, but once you ask me point blank I will not pull your leg anymore. So if I say I am not joking, I am not joking. I am being serious. People with a sense of humor are serious people too. Again a sense of humor senses what is humor and knows what is not humor. There is a difference between joking around and having a sense of humor.
Rule #3 Jokes Can Be Affirming!
I have to admit it. With my good friends that I am comfortable with I can joke kind of rough and they can be rough right back. Most of the jokes you hear are on sitcoms are insults. I am learning this does not have to be. My last few years in Texas I worked with an amazing man. He was a Jehovah Witness, and was always joking around with me. It took me a year or so to realize that even though he was always joking around he never insulted anyone-ever! All of his jokes were positive jokes. I do not know if that was because of his religion or not, but I have always admired him for that. It is possible to use a sense of humor to compliment people instead of insulting them with it. For example instead of negative comments about being bald, how about saying God doesn’t cover perfect heads? If you joke rough with someone make sure you have their permission first. If someone jokes rough without your permission forgive them and pay them a compliment instead. Don’t censure. Lead by example. They will catch on soon enough. If you think teasing someone back they way they teased you will teach them a lesson you are wrong. All it does is tell them you approve of such humor. If you do not approve of their humor, rather than retaliate just don’t participate.
Rule # 4 Leave peoples’ Bodies Alone
Just because I make a comment about my thin hair or pot belly does not mean I want you to chime in. Often when people make negative comments about themselves even jokingly, they are looking for you to counteract it with affirmation not insult. There is something I want to make clear. If you tease someone about ANY part of their body you have just given them permission to tease you about ANY part of your body and I do mean ANY and you know what I mean. Respect the entire body.
Rule #5 Humor is Not Mean Spirited.
There were a lot of jokes this last election that went beyond trying to be funny to being outright mean. For a moment forget that I am a nice little Bible Worker as I say something just as blunt and clear as I can. When you call a political leader “stupid”, “idiot”, and “incompetent” then that just makes you look like a stupid incompetent idiot. Show some class and couth. I am applying this to all political parties here. Nothing charms me like a politician sincerely complimenting his rival.
Rule # 6 Don’t take Yourself Serious.
I have to admit I am not too bright sometimes. There have been times people have been mean spirited towards me and I laughed with them thinking they were just joking and having fun. Either way you have to see the lighter side of life. Years ago when I was a UPS supervisor, we were having a terrible day. All the packages were stacked all around the end of the belt when they should have all been loaded in the package cars by now. I was overwhelmed, and when my boss came by I told him, while looking at the mess of boxes, “I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.” He told me, “You might as well laugh, crying isn’t going to do any good.” Humor has always helped me get through tough times. When I got real sick last fall ladies were bringing me food left and right. It was great! Later I told them looking back, all that I went through was worth it all just for their delicious dish that they made for me. When I first picked up the game of golf, I was playing with a buddy and I was doing lousy! I was actually doubling par on every hole! Finally around hole number 14 I hit another lousy shot and then I could not control myself! I fell to the ground doubling over in laughter! My friend, not sure what I was doing, asked what was wrong. I told him I was just laughing at how terrible I was playing! Once while getting ready to putt another player nearby asked if he was in my way. I told him I had no idea until after I hit the ball. I am no pro today, but I don’t play as bad as that anymore. Crying never did get me anywhere, but hard work and a good sense of humor will get you anywhere!
More studies and devotionals are available at In Light OF The Cross.