Sigh. The struggle is real. The battle in my head is difficult when I live on the romance in words. I survived life’s curve balls on wit because that is the only way to survive trauma in my mind. I have been told on many occasions how funny I am. Blah. Blah. Blah. I’m really good at observing people and I can figure them out in a short bit of time. I used to use my wit to cut people a bit, only a simple slice to the left rib cage to cause a little sting and bleed slowly. I wanted it to serve as a reminder who won that battle. (Uh, this girl could use some therapy, amma right?!) I tried not to use my powers on people that seemed weaker. I saved my words for those that wronged me in my mind and hurt my feelings, or on days I wasn’t liking myself too much. These were actions of a very sad and broken person who endured a lot of pain. Pain can cause people to do and say stupid things. I’m really thankful I don’t carry the burden of pain anymore and I’m hopeful many have forgiven me.
There was a time I used to follow a site that posted stories from around the world. The gist of the site was to create an internet persona and add your commentary to the story posted. Basically, a bunch of internet nerds seeing who could outwit each other and be the funniest. As I am typing this I can’t believe I admitted to the nerdiness of what I used to do. I died a little bit inside.* Anywho, it was fun and I would laugh out loud. Literally – lol. There are some hilarious people out in the world and you can find them all over the internet. If I am honest looking back at those times, I was a bit mean and numb to the feeling that in those stories they were real lives. Real people. Real situations. Real travesties.
Years later my relationship with God started to develop and there was lots of healing, my wit went back to some good ol’ fun poking at people out of love. It is an art to master: find balance in humor without planting seeds of insecurity or chipping away at the soul. I admire smart humor because I love to laugh. My husband and I create the best material when we are lying in bed at night making fun of each other, to the point our eyes are filled with happy tears. We pride ourselves in humor in my family and my oldest son is carrying on the legacy, as well as my two youngest. Life is meant to be lived with joy and laughter and we kill it in those categories.
Am I still funny now that I’m more conscious of people’s feelings? I can’t tell you how many times I have bitten my tongue because I wanted to say something but there went Jesus tapping me on my shoulder asking me, “Danielle, is it funny? Do you think that person will receive it well? Can you imagine the insecurities that swirl inside their soul?” It becomes a “What Would Jesus Do?” situation in my head. That dumb “WWJD” poster is taped to the inside of my forehead for my daily review. As I mature in my faith and grow in the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control), I get further away from my impulsiveness, irritability, impatience, and that good material to slay people with words. Jesus, why do you ruin all the fun?!?!
Recently a story came out in Toledo about a man that chased his family with a hatchet. I admit I clicked on the story because of the tagline and because of his picture. His mug shot actually scared me a bit. So I read the article and then I started reading all the Facebook posts. These people were brutal. They created memes, poked fun at him, and went on and on. Admittedly some of it was funny and for a moment it could have been super easy to jump in on the comment board. There were so many ways you could play with this story, make a remark and join in on the “innocent” fun. Then Jesus tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Danielle, can you imagine what their Thanksgiving dinners are like? How their home is? What the kids have seen? The pain they have endured? The abuse? Think about your home and all the happiness in it. Now, think of their home. Danielle, the man chased his family with a hatchet for Godsakes!!” Okay, Jesus, you don’t have to yell at me!
Siggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh. My conscience nestled up on the couch in my head and stared at me with that look when someone catches your hand in the cookie jar. Then it pointed to the “WWJD” poster on the wall in my brain. I felt compassion and sadness for this family. I felt it for this man and his face. He has to look in the mirror every day and see a reflection that has caused people to gasp, stare, and poke fun at. The family is probably all sorts of screwed up. I’m assuming bedtime stories never existed and he isn’t out passing the ball with his son in the front yard. In fact, his son called the police because of his hatchet-wielding insanity. If I were to be a betting woman, there is probably a lot of addiction running rampant in the family too.
What if we all paused a quick second before speaking in real life and on the Internet? What if we took a moment to ponder the repercussions of our words? What if we took responsibility and remember we all can contribute to spreading kindness in the world or we can contribute to the demise of humanity in the world. It is so easy to trash a person or make fun of someone -especially when they are an easy target – but takes sheer brilliance and smart wit to laugh and have fun with people without hurting them. We all have a role to play in life. Do you want to impact the world with love? Or do you want to impact the world at the expense of a soul? Do we want to be a bully or do we want to change the course of society’s downfall? We have the power to lift up and inspire. We have the power to change brokenness. We can help little girls struggling with their body image see their worth. We can inspire people with hope. We can be funny without being a jerk.
Sure this man in Toledo will never know that I made the conscious effort to shut my mouth. But, that pest Jesus sure knows. I now realize that because I am a Christian it does not mean I am drab. I still laugh at ridiculous things and find most comedians hilarious – only the smart comedians, not the insecure ones. I still love to listen to rap music (whatever – I know I’m 39 years old). I know beyond the bad words there are human beings that have lived a life I can empathize with. Some are beautiful poets pouring out their souls into their music and trying to inspire beyond the basic lyrics of “gold chains and fast cars”. I make an effort to not be quick to judge** and I bite my tongue when I sense the tap on my shoulder. I’m not perfect and I do slip occasionally. After all, I’m not Jesus. When I do slip, I evaluate the day and take notes on how I can be better next time. I try my best every day and that is all I can do. I’m okay with this. I am okay to play this role now. I’d rather spread the love. I do believe I’m still hilarious and pretty awesome. Go ahead and ask my teenager and my husband. Right, guys?!
*Not that there is anything wrong with nerds. Nerds are wonderful. Nerds are funny. Nerds are smart. Nerds make the world go round. I married one. I’m pretty sure I am one.
**If you are not a believer or you struggle with spirituality because you have been burned, I apologize on behalf of most Christians. There is always a few bad apples in a bunch. There is some that judge. They live in a neighborhood full of glass houses and they like to collect stones as a hobby. Sometimes they throw them at people. I’m sorry.