By Marlene Evans
Founder of Christian Womanhood

Why is it we lose all our “laugh” as we leave childhood and teenage years? Why is it some people seldom really laughed even in childhood?

Do you know what I mean by really laughing? First, let me tell you what I don’t mean. I don’t mean just a little “ha-ha.” I mean laugh after laugh after laugh in a way people can tell you are laughing.

I full well know I am too loud. I am my dad over and over, and people could hear him whisper a mile away. Really, truly, I have tried to quiet down. Then, I get excited, and there I go again—louder and louder. I don’t want girls to be like I am, but I do want them to be able to laugh. One of the most feminine women I know laughs a lot. It’s so much fun to see her get tickled at something Preacher says in church. You see, it is his wife!

I do get upset about the fact that people know when I am in a building because they hear me laugh. I hear that over and over again. I think they are telling on themselves. I reason that even if I am extra loud, I shouldn’t be heard so well. Everyone else’s laughter should cover mine, wouldn’t you think?

We have the funniest preacher. When he’s hurt, sick, and preaching a very serious sermon, he still makes us laugh somewhere along the line. He says that we’ve all heard his old jokes a hundred times, but they are real life stories that are funnier than those a comedian puts on tape. Besides that, he thinks in spontaneous humor on his feet. During my wildest chemotherapy days, I still laughed at church. Thank God for a church in which we can laugh.      A fine young college girl used to be able to sit through whole messages of Preacher’s and never quirk her mouth. Someone asked her if she didn’t think anything was funny to which she replied, “I laugh inside.” Now folks, they say laughing is internal jogging. People say you can laugh yourself well. Laughing out loud seems to be more contagious than laughing inside. If you think something is funny, notify your face, please!

A young couple asked us to come to their house for supper (dinner for some) one evening. The man specifically requested that we be prepared to just laugh. There were eight of us who sat around the table eating and laughing for two hours. What a memory. The date was December 18, 1998, just after we had buried my dad (12/4/98) and just before my hip replacement surgery (12/30/98). I was so glad to laugh when I was hurting so badly in several ways.

What did we talk about? Nothing that I can remember. We did not solve any earth-shaking problems. No one person was left not knowing what the others were discussing. Not staying on subjects in which the others aren’t interested and limiting the time each person talks are keys to laughter not going sour.

We came to the conclusion that if the goal was to have eight people laughing for two hours, there were some things not to discuss. They were on a list we periodically checked if someone bordered on fringe talk. When anyone pointed to the list reminding someone he was on the edge, we all laughed like fools once again.

Here was our list of no-no’s:

  • Death
  • Schools
  • Sickness
  • History
  • Jobs
  • Education
  • Religion
  • Operations
  • Politics
  • Infections
  • Gossip
  • Diseases
  • Griping
  • Risque talk
  • Criticism
  • Ethnic talk
  • Complaining
  • Europe
  • Whining
  • Finances
  • Diet

Let me explain a few of these items on my list to you because they probably would not be on your list. We could discuss Jesus, souls saved, prayers answered, and good Bible thoughts and sermons. We were not discussing religion as in ecclesiastical problems and all that junk that has nothing to do with Jesus.

In our particular group, there was a high percentage of teachers, and others aren’t wanting an educational seminar at the dinner table.

Why do we talk “diet” all during a meal we’re eating as if there were no tomorrow? If you’re going to eat wrong, don’t compound the problem by becoming nervous as you talk about it while you’re going right on indulging.

We reasoned that our group of four couples in several age groups wouldn’t go home feeling great if any borderline thing were said, so that was out. We were there to have fun and go home full of great food and a peaceful feeling.

About ethnic—the host’s name ends in “SKI”!

Think on these things:

  • Do you really laugh? With whom? Under what conditions?
  • If you laugh about people’s negative differences at others’ expense even though they say they don’t care, do you go home feeling happy, contented, peaceful, euphoric, or exhilarated? Even any one of these?
  • Don’t force your requirements for laughter on others. In the case about which I’m writing, the host made his goal plain.
  • There is a formula for you and your family or you and your friends to follow in order to be able to lighten up once in a while. I don’t know what yours would be. Watch and figure it out for yourself and then just use it as far as what you yourself do and say. Most of the time, you are all you can handle.
  • When I am on a trip to a ladies’ meeting with girls who work with me, I can say, “Let’s don’t go home knowing anything bad about anyone that we didn’t know before we started the trip.” My little joke is, “If we all already know the bad, ‘Go to it!’ ” No, any talking about a situation we cannot change seems to leave us depressed. I am not sure we need to know all of the bad facts in order to pray more intelligently.
  • When I am on a trip with my husband, I have no list of subjects to avoid. Thank goodness, in my case, I don’t need one. The minute we get on something negative about which we can do nothing, my husband says, “That’s about all of the negative I can take.” We do laugh a lot together.
  • Set up a family business meeting to care for problems about which you can do something.
  • Choose what you tell in answer to a question in a casual situation. For instance, people who ask about the Ryders when they have been in Papua New Guinea get all the things on my “good” list—all true. “Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.” (Proverbs 12:25) Others—say in my WMS Circle who are there to find out about the needs—get everything on my “bad” list—all true.
  • You can learn to laugh so that you don’t even hear my laugh. If you know that you’re going to Heaven when you die and that God will never leave nor forsake you while you live, why can’t you laugh? “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.” (Psalms 126:2)

“But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness. For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me? And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.” (II Corinthians 2:1-4)