Psychologists often write about tears and laughter as if they are something rather strange and removed from the life of the ordinary person. Tears and laughter are two distinct gifts from God. Tear ducts are there for a valuable purpose and the joys of laughter have great and lasting benefits.
King Solomon wrote, “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance . . . a merry heart does good like medicine” (Ecclesiastes 3:4; Proverbs 17:22). Now we know why our parents were never sick. Kids are funny and laughter relieves stress, relaxes the nerves, cures headaches, fights infections and alleviates hypertension. A hearty laugh causes muscles to contract in the abdomen, chest, shoulders, neck and elsewhere. The heart rate and blood pressure increases and that must be good for us, for when laughter subsides, muscles are more relaxed, tensions are eased and headaches are gone.
Tears are the other extreme. Laughter and tears are so closely related (even through they are opposite) that we laugh ourselves into crying, and often cry over things that later seem hilariously funny. The simple recipe is given by Paul when he writes, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Take my money but leave my tears. Take my house but don’t take away my laughter. Take the laughter and tears and just sandwich life in-between.
The Master teacher said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions (Many rooms)” (John 14:2). While He spoke of the heaven to be, the same idea of many rooms could be applied to our heart-minds. We have living rooms or dens where most of life is lived. The average house also includes kitchen, dining room, bath and bedrooms. Porches are for sitting in the evening and garages for housing our cars. We live in all of these rooms, but none to the exclusion of the others.
Life is like that. Look for the room called “Disappointment”. When you are called to experience that part of life, don’t hesitate – go on and go in and know what disappointment is. Just don’t stay in that room a long time. Return to the main living room and watch for your time to enter the room called “Joy”. When the door is ajar, don’t feel guilty about going in. This state of euphoria is a part of life to be lived and enjoyed. Enjoy your stay there but understand that soon you must return to the main living room. When the door called “Sadness” opens, this is another part of life that must be lived if life is to be full. All of life is not life, for some of it is death. When sorrow strikes and true sadness calls, go in and willingly taste the saltiness of your tears. Don’t resist this unique experience. It’s just another room in your life. Learn from it, for if death is not the end of life, just the last enemy, we should prepare ourselves for a time when one of our loved one is taken.
Grieving is a process. Feel free to take the journey. The room of joy will receive you often. Go in and examine its wares and relish it’s rare pleasures. One by one doors open, and all of them are a vital part of life. The idea is “cease resistance” and enter gladly. Each room only adds to the fullness of your life and the maturing of your heart. When Jesus said, “Go and learn mercy” he was not sending you to some university. When Paul wrote, “I have learned in whatsoever state (room) I am in, therein to be content”, he wasn’t referring to one of the States of the USA. When the writer of Hebrews said, “Though He were a son, yet learned He obedience through the things that He suffered” he was referring to what life itself teaches.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me”. What university offers in its curriculum “Humility #101” or “Wisdom” (advanced course), or a beginner’s course in spirituality?
Take all the praise and palaces of men, but give me the freedom to be me, to experience all of life and taste every minute of time. Above all of this, we are free to think, to meditate, to choose the high road, the light, the sunshine, the flowers, the birds. Fly as it were on the wings of eagles, only remember at times it may be lonely for eagles soar alone.
Walk on the beach, sit in the shade, bathe in the sun, fish in the sea, glide down the powered mountain side on your skis, eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and taste it’s special flavor. Sew the fallen button back in place, strike the canvass with a broad brush. Sit on the porch and watch the falling sun send it’s golden shafts of light into outer space. Write that letter, shed that tear, ask and offer forgiveness freely. Discipline your children, ride that horse, hit the home run.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporal, but what is unseen is eternal” II Corinthians 4:16-18).
Ah! A house with many rooms and the freedom to live in all of them.