It’s Monday … Already!

Dave's dog (see Postscript)

Dave’s dog (see Postscript)

We have a piece we regularly publish on Fridays called “It’s Friday … Already!” that goes out exclusively to our prayer partners, our MemberPartners and those on our prayer list. It’s usually a collaboration of sorts between Marti and me. However, last Friday’s entry did not go out, much to Marti’s consternation, because I just wasn’t getting it. It’s thrown us into a weekend of discussion. So it was decided, since it’s now Monday, that I would turn it into a Catch, and let everybody in on the discussion, which is a polite way of saying we’re still having it.

The issue is all around having fun. Marti doesn’t think fun needs to be forgiven. I agree, but none of my attempts to agree convince Marti that I am free of my evangelical constraints around having fun. I get it in my head, but I’m having trouble living it out.

Isn’t it evangelical Christianity that tells us if we are having fun we must be doing something wrong? Or if we are suffering, or going through a grave trial, taking a break from it for fun is something we cannot consider? Do we have to spiritualize the fun right out of our lives before we can experience it, thus relieving it of its spontaneity, humanity and lightheartedness? In other words, do you have to ask forgiveness for having fun?

Marti thinks not, but she has found in me, and in some of our requests for prayer, a certain guilt over fun, or a reluctance to connect with normal human emotions.

It is true that many of those who have been raised Christian have learned to keep a lid on natural emotions. There is an underlying assumption — starting with sex, and continuing to just about anything — that if something is fun, there must be something wrong with it.

We have a plaque on the wall in our kitchen that reads, “LIFE IS SHORT: BREAK THE RULES. FORGIVE QUICKLY, KISS SLOWLY, LOVE TRULY, LAUGH UNCONTROLLABLY, AND NEVER REGRET ANYTHING THAT MADE YOU SMILE.” Now be honest with me, all you good Christian people, isn’t there something in there that makes you feel just a little uneasy? Doesn’t that sound like somebody is having maybe a little too much fun?

Marti thinks I have turned into pretty much of a bore. That’s really why this piece has taken so long to complete; it’s just too personal.

She thinks that getting a few fun moments out of me these days is like trying to get a laugh out of an old hound dog, whose idea of excitement is to scratch himself then stand up, circle around, and plop back down in the same spot he started from. She thinks I need to be forgiven for not being fun.

Maybe it’s a January kind of thing.

Last month, when it was the night before Christmas, there was not a creature stirring, not even a mouse. But now it is January and the dang things have set up a dance studio in the attic, and are tapping to Chandler’s rap music and having a grand old time in the rafters.

I want to set traps. Marti tells me to go up there and join them. She thinks my mind and the attic have a lot in common anyway. Both are dusty, mysterious, and difficult to reach. What better place to be a curmudgeon, and at the same time, without anyone noticing, take a turn around the dance floor with a couple of happy-go-lucky mice?

By ignoring, denying, shaming and shunning feelings, people say they are guarding their hearts, when all they are doing is making themselves completely numb to every good passion God has given. God is on the side of emotions; He is the designer of human emotions. Therefore, recovery is possible. Recovery is as real as the emotions once suppressed that are now made real again.

So loosen the tight-corset expressions on your faces which should largely vanish thanks to an array of God-given factors besides the mice in the attic. In spite of our suffering — and we are never poking fun at pain — we can follow where our smiles might lead us. Ask for forgiveness in advance, if you need to, but really … fun doesn’t ever need to be forgiven.

Postscript

The following, as well as the picture above, appeared this week in our email from a pastor friend of ours who writes a weekly blog. He has been suffering with chronic back pain for which he will receive an operation in February. We thought a couple comments from that piece might shed some light on this discussion. The first is from his wife:

“On this journey, we’ve had lots of time to read, to pray for friends who tell us their stories, to praise God for daily blessings we notice, especially in the form of friends. And we’ve had something to laugh at each day (Some things you just have to laugh at!).”  Carolyn Roper

On the other hand, her husband writes:

“On a curious note, our old dog threw her back out this week and is now on pain meds as well. As I write she is curled up beside me, sharing my misery with an occasional groan. Indeed, misery does love company.” Dave Roper

Be it known by all who encounter this that we all are given permission to laugh in spite of whatever makes us groan. Fun does not need to be forgiven.

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26 Responses to It’s Monday … Already!

  1. Sue Berger says:

    Let’s all rush out & read “Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace” by Cathleen Falsani
    Now THERE’s a title to make you squirm!

  2. Ron Ryan says:

    From the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous page 133, “We are sure God wants us to be Happy, Joyous and Free”

  3. Mark Seguin says:

    I’d again suggest consider reading Dr. Robert Rohm book DISC Method of Understand Personaility Types.

  4. TimC says:

    I absolutely agree with both sides of the discussion. It’s good to have fun, important to have fun, but nearly impossible to have fun when the pile of bills dwarfs the checkbook. There is no money or time to have fun. Work is the only option. There is no time for fun.

  5. Kathy Willis says:

    TimC I am so sorry for your troubles and agree it’s hard to have fun when you are struggling. However, fun does not have to cost money. A simple thing such as a walk in the park can be fun. Or a walk around your neighborhood (head up), and greeting people with a hello, how are you? It took me a long time to realize that fun is what you make it. I truly hope things get better for you Tim, I truly do. Wish you enough.

  6. KaT H. says:

    Today’s Catch could not have been more “on time” for me! While vacuuming–of all things–God revealed to me this morning that I have been quite a bit of a BORE recently 😦 Time to admit this to my husband!

  7. Kevin says:

    I generally find that if I can’t find laughter in my troubles, I’m either taking life too seriously (not often) or I am caught up in self pity (most the time). In simplier terms, when I am in that place where fun is not allowed, what is really going on is I am judging those who are having fun; and all because I AM NOT HAVING FUN and feel sorry for myself. Easy solution at least, jump in right up to my neck in the fun they are having all around me.

    • Kathy Willis says:

      Have to agree with you – I call them pity parties, with only me invited, or those who want to get in on the pity! I know there are life threatening issues out there, but I’ve learned that I have to trust that I can only live in the present, and I certainly don’t want to live in the present not finding a little fun, even if it’s just for a minute or two.

  8. Catholic Dog –

    Muldoon lived alone in the Irish countryside with only a pet dog for company. One day the dog died, and Muldoon went to the parish priest and asked, ‘Father, my dog is dead. Could ya’ be saying’ a mass for the poor creature?’

    Father Patrick replied, ‘I’m afraid not; we cannot have services for an animal in the church. But there are some Baptists down the lane, and there’s no tellin’ what they believe. Maybe they’ll do something for the creature.’

    Muldoon said, ‘I’ll go right away Father. Do ya’ think $5,000 is enough to donate to them for the service?’

    Father Patrick exclaimed, ‘Sweet Mary, Mother of Jesus! Why didn’t ya tell me the dog was Catholic?
    __________

    Donation –

    The phone rings: ‘Hello, is this Father O’Malley?’

    ‘It is!’

    ‘This is the IRS. Can you help us?’

    ‘I can!’

    ‘Do you know a Ted Houlihan?’

    ‘I do!’

    ‘Is he a member of your Congregation?’

    ‘He is!’

    ‘Did he donate $10,000 to the church?’

    ‘He will.’
    ______________________________

    Brothel Trip –

    An elderly man goes into a brothel and tells the madam he would like a girl for the night. Surprised, she looks at the ancient man and asks how old he is.

    ‘I’m 90 years old,’ he says.

    ’90?’ replies the woman. ‘Don’t you realize you’ve had it?’

    ‘Oh, sorry,’ says the old man. ‘How much do I owe you?’
    ____________________

    Senility –

    An elderly man went to his doctor and said, ‘Doc, I think I’m getting senile. Several times lately, I have forgotten to zip up.’
    ‘That’s not senility,’ replied the doctor. ‘Senility is when you forget to zip down.’
    ______________________

    Marriage Humour –

    Wife: ‘What are you doing?’

    Husband: ‘Nothing.’

    Wife: ‘Nothing . . . ? You’ve been reading our marriage certificate for an hour.’

    Husband: ‘I was looking for the expiration date.’

    ——————————-

    Wife : ‘Do you want dinner?’

    Husband: ‘Sure! What are my choices?’

    Wife: ‘Yes or no.’

    ——————————————————–

    Stress Reliever –

    Girl: ‘When we get married, I want to share all your worries, troubles and lighten your burden.’

    Boy: ‘It’s very kind of you, darling, but I don’t have any worries or troubles.’

    Girl: ‘Well that’s because we aren’t married yet.’

    ——————————

    Son: ‘Mum, when I was on the bus with Dad this morning, he told me to give up my seat to a lady.’

    Mom: ‘Well, you have done the right thing.’

    Son: ‘But mum, I was sitting on daddy’s lap.’

    ______________________________

    A newly married man asked his wife, ‘Would you have married me if my father hadn’t left me a fortune?’
    ‘Honey,’ the woman replied sweetly, ‘I’d have married you, NO MATTER WHO LEFT YOU A FORTUNE!’
    ————————————————–

    A wife asked her husband: ‘What do you like most in me, my pretty face or my sexy body?’

    He looked at her from head to toe and replied: ‘I like your sense of humor!’

    🙂

    • Cannon Ingalls says:

      Just for full disclosure. I copied and pasted all of this to share with other fb friends. Thanks for the sillies!

      • My pleasure.
        It’s important to laugh or smile (or groan) – even at some of those innocuous ‘sillies’ that, for some reason, may cause unease or create tension in staid Christian circles . 🙂

  9. How can you live for Jesus and not experience the things he created? This song comes to my mind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVFPjIp6nkk so Saddle up partner you’ve got a trail to blaze!!! Tim C. you are wrong, you can have fun in spite of your debt, so go fly a kite (literally), a picnic, swimming, a walk on the beach, some of the best things in life are free! Your just not looking

    • Eddie says:

      Colleen,
      Thanks for the link to that video. I produced a video show in the mid 90’s and that video was in my very first show. Haven’t watched it in a long time. Brought back lots of great memories and stayed on my mind all day. Thanks again. With Christ life truly is a great adventure.

  10. Kimm says:

    Well, I can’t say I’ve had much fun lately due to the inability to get out of the house, but I’m with Marti on this one. What immediately comes to mind is the night Jesus knew the soldiers were coming for Him. He could have just gathered up His friends and headed to the garden to pray, but instead He took the time to sit down and have a meal and socialize with them. 🙂

    I’m always a bit confused about this issue with asking for forgiveness. Didn’t Christ say “It is finished”? I hear most Christians say “Well my past sins have been forgiven, but I have to keep asking for forgiveness for all the sins I will commit in the future.” As my friend Bob George always says, “How many of your sins were in the future when Christ died”? It seems to me that it is a major distraction from life. If we view sin as God does and not the neat little box that man does, it seems like we would spend 99% of our lives asking for forgiveness.

    • jwfisch says:

      Confession means to agree with God about your sin. “Yep you’re right, God. That was sin and that wasn’t good. Thank you for forgiving me.” Confession doesn’t forgive your sins. They’re already forgiven. It just puts you on the same page with God and fills you full of gratitude for His grace. And, yes, you pretty much do that all day!

  11. Kimm says:

    Thanks John! When I was a child I walked around frightened that I would die before I had a chance to ask for forgiveness for something. The legalism I grew up in was smothering. I’m so thankful to you and to others for showing me that I didn’t have to live under that heavy weight. You are such a blessing! If I ever get out there and get a chance to meet you and Marti, we’ll have to go out and have some “fun”! 😉

    • Kimm~ I truly with all my heart hope that you do not believe for one minute all the legalism you grew up with! I got a short glimpse that has just about killed me and made me feel so ashamed with folks like this! I pray that the Lord literally spits on them! I do not know what you have endured, but my small glimpse gives me a clue. Take my advice above and listen to the song friend. I don’t have much, but if you are stuck you can come stay with me and my family. I do not want you living in that atmosphere, it is so totally not healthy!

    • jwfisch says:

      I’m in!

  12. Duffy Daugherty, a colorful Michigan State football coach in years past, used to say that you needed only three bones to journey successfully through life: a wishbone, to dream on . . . a backbone, for strength and courage to get through the tough times . . . and a funny bone, to laugh at life along the way. Not bad advice.

    When I think of these three bones, the apostle Paul immediately springs to mind. Though under arrest and facing an uncertain tomorrow, his wishbone was in healthy shape. His dream of spreading the gospel far and wide was being realized. “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel . . . and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear” (Phil. 1:12–14).

    How about Paul’s backbone? Need I repeat the dark side of his resume? “Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (2 Cor. 11:24–27).

    Curiously, though, all this did not embitter or sour the Apostle of Grace. His funny bone stayed intact. In fact, no other writer of Scripture mentions joy or rejoicing more often. Remember when he and Silas were seized by a hostile mob, beaten mercilessly, then dumped into a dungeon with their feet fastened in stocks? It was around midnight at the end of that same day, while their sores were oozing and their bruises throbbing, that he and Silas were praying and singing a few duets of praise (Acts 16:19–25).

    What exceptional dreams . . . what relentless courage . . . what contagious joy!

    History is still being written. And we’re still on the journey from here to eternity. The destination’s sure for the Christian, but the trip isn’t easy.

    Dream big . . . don’t let anybody or anything break your wishbone. Stay strong, full of faith, and courageous . . . keep that backbone straight. And along the way, don’t forget to laugh and enjoy the journey.

    Your funny bone isn’t merely a nice option;
    it’s part of your survival gear for the trip to glory.

    – Excerpted from “Day by Day with Charles Swindoll”
    http://www.insight.org/resources/devotionals/them-bones-them-bones.html

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