Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

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One of God's Greatest Gifts

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25

Have you ever had a really good laugh? I mean, one of those laughs where you find tears streaming down your face? A laugh that keeps you going for days? A laugh that just feels so good and releases so much emotional stress?

It happens. And it’s a good thing. After all, Proverbs tells us a cheerful heart is good medicine.

Last week, I had one of those laughs…and it was much needed. We have been under a lot of stress because of some false accusations against us, accusations that could have dire consequences. We trust God to bring truth to light, but sometimes the weight of the situation is so heavy.

I just can’t explain how good it felt to have one of those really hearty laughs…a laugh that left me in tears with my daughter having to ask if I was laughing or crying, a laugh that released so much pent-up emotion I didn’t even know was bottled inside of me.

What caused the laughter?

If I tell you, you can’t judge me…

Wednesday last week, I received a text from my oldest son who is away at college. It simply said:

“I think I might’ve broken one of my wrists and/or elbow.”

That’s really not what you want to hear, and it didn’t leave me laughing at first. Instead, I immediately called to find out what was going on, to make sure he was ok. As he began to tell me the story, I knew from experience he had a broken arm. He was playing basketball, went up to dunk, lost his balance, and extended his arms to break his fall as he came down.

Yep. We’ve been there done that with him. He knows what a broken arm feels like, so I was confident in his diagnosis.

But then came the million-dollar question: Which arm?

“Both of them,” came the sullen reply.

I guess when we do something, we do it up BIG! Yes, as he came down, he stretched out both arms. Both wrists felt broken…as well as his left elbow. I sent him across the street to the local emergency room (he had to walk…he couldn’t use his arms to drive) as I tried to figure out how to best help him.

And then this image flashed through my mind.

My son with a cast.

A cast on both arms.

Wondering how he would shower or dress or tie his shoes.

Hoping his professors would give him grace through upcoming finals.

Thinking about all the things he wouldn’t be able to do.

And I began to laugh…and laugh some more…and laugh until I couldn’t control myself.

Please don’t misunderstand. I do not in any way think it is comical that my son is hurt. I do not wish this injury on him or anyone else. I’m not even sure what caused me to laugh so hysterically.

Maybe it’s the image of him with two casts and a sling.

Maybe it’s the fact that his brother is also in a sling after his shoulder surgery last month from an injury he sustained lifting weights.

Maybe it’s because I thought laughter would be better than tears (which I had anyway from the extreme laughter).

Maybe it’s because it just seems when one boy gets hurt, the other always seems to try to show him up (unintentionally).

Maybe it’s because it just seems to be our luck.

I really don’t know what caused me to laugh so hysterically. I will say it’s rather ironic in light of the current (false) accusations against us. But whatever the reason, I could not stop laughing…for two days.

At the emergency room, Blake was diagnosed with a left wrist fracture and a left elbow fracture. Fortunately, his right wrist was not fractured (or at least they didn’t find a hairline fracture of any type). He walked out of the orthopedic office with a cast on his left wrist, a sling on his left elbow, and a brace on his right wrist. We were very thankful that’s all he has.

And, thanks to the artistic talents of his friend, his sling is even decorated for Christmas.

When was the last time you had a really good laugh? When was the last time you just stopped and enjoyed life? When was the last time you let everything loose—didn’t care who was around—and were just overcome by hysterics?

My now 16-year-old used to start laughing so hard he was literally uncontrollable. I’ll never forget when his brother had just had surgery and he got tickled about something…no idea what. His laugh started. And kept going. And kept going. And kept going. His brother was begging him to stop because he was beginning to laugh—and laughter hurts right after surgery. Cole buried his head, trying to hide his laughter from his brother so it couldn’t hurt him. He couldn’t hide it, and the laughter rippled through our home, Blake doubled over in pain and laughter, Cole’s laughter growing by the minute as he tried unsuccessfully to control himself.

Those are the moments we remember, memories seared into brains, the thoughts that make a smile creep across our faces. The moments of uncontrollable laughter stay with us, lighten our moods, bring us into the presence of our Savior.

I know last week’s laugh session completely changed my heart. It was truly a God-given gift, the medicine that did my heart so much good. I went from a downcast heart to utter joy simply because God gave me the gift of laughter.

Maybe you need a good laugh. Maybe it’s time to sit down and watch a really good comedy. Maybe it’s time to just play a really silly game with your kids. Maybe it’s time you run out in the rain and jump in a few mud puddles or put on your snow boots and have a good snowball fight. Maybe it’s time you start a pillow fight with the kids and laugh until you cry.

Life is hard. Life is serious. Life can be downright cruel.

But I am convinced God gave us a gift when he gave us the ability to laugh. Find a reason to have a good belly laugh today.

Father, we thank you so much for the gift of laughter. Sometimes we don’t know what is going to cause us to break out into a giggle that grows into a roaring belly laugh. Sometimes we laugh at inopportune moments. No matter the reason, it truly is a gift. To everyone reading these words today, I pray you would give them the gifts of laughter and joy this holiday season. Let your joy overwhelm us as we learn to embrace the gifts you have given us—the gifts of joy, of love, of laughter, of family.