Growing up in church, I’ve always felt that I had to hide part of my personality. It’s a pretty big part of my personality. It comes in clutch when dealing with awkward situations, cheering my friends up, or at parties. I’m not talking about being smooth (because I once walked into a door of a coffee shop, all because a beautiful woman smiled at me and I tried to smile back. This is a true story for another day), but I’m talking about my sense of humor. The church I began my introduction to faith was a very devout and serious Catholic school and congregation, that rarely allowed for chances to laugh. For example, the principle of my elementary school, Sister Mary Ann (God bless her) was a caring person, but I think in the entirety of my 7 years at the school—I only saw her smile (and MAYBE laugh…?) about something humorous ONCE. The priest was an awesome man, but I was afraid that if I tried to be funny with him, he wouldn’t think it was funny since Sister Mary Ann never laughed at my jokes. This thinking of a church having to be a serious and un-funny place continued on into my protestant years (which may have played a small role into my agnosticism during my days of teen-angst), and I always thought that “super church-y people” and clergy were boring individuals who had given up on a sense of humor and trying to find joy and laughter in the midst of this struggle between flesh and spirit that we call life.
Fast forward some years, and I was going to a Methodist Church. I still didn’t think that it was ok to be funny in church. That all changed when I was helping out with a youth retreat weekend (after I had actually become a Christian), and I heard a pastor reference Anchorman (one of my favorite movies of all time). My ears perked up, and the thoughts flooded into my brain. “Did a pastor just make a joke??? It’s ok to be funny??? I don’t need to pretend that I’m serious all of the time???” Pastor Grant and Pastor Rob quoting Anchorman changed my life, and for that I’m thankful (so if you’re somehow reading this, thanks fellas).
Sometimes, we as the church take life too seriously. While I will say that The Gospel is incredibly important and should be taken seriously, sometimes things in life shouldn’t be taken so seriously. Think about it. Literally last week I was at a men’s group, we went to pray for someone, and one of the men in the group farted RIGHT BEFORE we started praying. It was hilarious, and my cousin, my father, and I had to hold in our laughter the rest of the prayer.
Not only this, but laughing has been proven to be good for you scientifically. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. Not only this, but laughter helps relieve stress, improves your immune system, relieves pain, and improves your mood. Some of my favorite memories with church friends are memories of laughing uncontrollably until my sides hurt. Some of my favorite memories in church include laughing. A few of these times laughing at church was during service (which is frowned upon normally). I remember “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” happening to be played during communion. I cracked up. A cymbal crashed loudly during a prayer. I snickered all the way through the prayer and apologized to God for not paying attention to what was being prayed about.
Laughter is good. God made it. I believe firmly that humor belongs in the church. Maybe we as The Church should partake in laughing more often, while still holding fast to the truth that we know as The Way, The Truth, and The Life.