August 17, 2018
Laughter IS the Best Medicine by Lynn Dove
My three children have learned to accept our frequent fits of laughter and though they don't always understand what their parents find so funny at times, they explain it away as one of our many parenting quirks and find it endearing, although sometimes embarrassing, especially when we laugh hysterically in front of their friends. They don't realize that most of the time, we find THEM funny! Sorry kids!
In writing, there are times an unexpected pun or a misspelling of a word, that changes the whole meaning of a sentence, will catch me off guard. I'm a grammar hound when it comes to media. I can't help cringe and chuckle at the grotesque misspellings I discover in commercials, ads and social media. Occasionally spellcheck will have me giggling for a day at the nonsensical word it comes up with to use in a certain context. Even when reading or writing the most serious of articles, I can be reduced to fits of laughter because of a spellcheck or misspelled faux pas.
I will admit there have been very few times in my life, when I didn't find something to make me laugh at least once during the day. Whether in my writing or interacting with my family, friends, or seeing something in media or on television; life definitely makes for some very funny moments IF we choose to see them. Case in point:
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. That in itself is definitely NOT funny. In fact, after the diagnosis, I wasn't sure I would ever be able to laugh again. I was in a battle for my life and the usual twinkle of merriment in my husband's eyes was noticeably dimmed as we struggled as a couple to come to terms with our new reality. My children ranged in age from five to fifteen, and I begged God to help me see the plan and purpose in this for me and my family.
Days before my mastectomy surgery, I sat down at my computer and began to write a long letter to a friend asking her to pray for me. I was terrified about the upcoming surgery and I honestly wasn't sure I would survive. I was deeply depressed and I was facing a crisis of belief. After the initial diagnosis I had "camped out" in Scripture, trying to find comfort in the Word, finally coming to Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before His Passion. I wrote to my friend, "I feel like Jesus did when he prayed to His Father: "Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Matthew 26:39. After I had written that, my daughter who was fifteen at the time, leaned over my shoulder and began reading the letter. She stopped when she read the scripture passage and gasped. Then she started to giggle. She couldn't stop and soon tears were streaming down her eyes and she pointed at the screen.
I had thought my letter poignant and filled with pathos. To see my child dissolved in laughter, was the least I had ever expected the letter to illicit and to tell the truth, I was more than a little upset by her insensitivity towards my dire health circumstances. She was certainly old enough to understand the seriousness of the situation, and we had been very open with her about what I was about to face. Then she pointed again and said, "Think about it, Mom...your surgery...a cup being taken from you...CUP?...bra cup...?" It dawned on me the literal meaning she had picked up by reading the verse that I had connected to my particular circumstance and I started to laugh. Before we knew it, we were hugging, laughing and crying uncontrollably. After our laughter quieted, my oldest child, who had been bottling up her pent up emotions until then shared openly her real fear of losing me. After reading my letter, she knew that if we could laugh, if God could allow laughter into our lives about something so very serious and at that VERY moment, she knew everything was going to be okay!
It was after that conversation, I revised my letter to my friend and changed it's original sombre tone to one of upbeat positivity and I shared what had just transpired between my daughter and me. I asked my friend to pray of course for my upcoming surgery, but to also send me jokes, funny videos and humourous anecdotes throughout my recovery process. Then I enlisted all my other friends and family to do the same, and from that day forward my email correspondence included every manner of frivolity that made me laugh and lifted my spirit through my surgeries and the chemotherapy treatments that followed. My request went viral, and soon strangers from all over the world, were sending me encouraging scripture verses as well as fun, family-friendly jokes, riddles, puns and videos. My husband, once again continued his quest of trying to make me laugh every day, so even on the day I asked him to shave my head bald after the first chemo treatment, I was laughing while he cried!
I don't make light of the awful experience of cancer or the devastating consequences and treatments that accompany the disease. I would NEVER wish the diagnosis on anyone, but I believe God used humour to encourage me through that most difficult time in my life. Someone asked me how I could stay so upbeat during that two year battle and I responded, "I can laugh or I can cry, I choose to laugh."
For me, laughter was, and still is, the best medicine.
Lynn Dove is the award-winning author, of the YA “Wounded Trilogy”- a contemporary Christian fiction series with coming-of-age themes. A wife, mom, grandmother, and free-lance writer with articles published in several magazines and anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her blog, “Journey Thoughts” is a Canadian Christian Writing Award winner. Readers may connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and at lynndove.com