More fun

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Wow. I struck a cord a couple days ago talking about fun. So many great comments tell me we all want to have fun but we’re not all sure we can. Whether we’re feeling guilty, or feeling judged, or just not feeling free, there are so many barriers to having fun, it’s going to take a few of us together to knock them down.

It’s not easy. The lateness of this Catch is testimony to the number of attempts I have made to write it. I am sorry it’s late, but you are glad you’ve been spared those attempts.

The first helpful comment comes from Dave Roper, the one who started this all with his blog about laughing amidst pain. (That was his little white dog pictured on our Catch commiserating with his back pain.) It’s a teaching from St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) who said there are three criteria to apply to any situation – three reasons for doing anything:

  1.  Is it good, i.e., is it morally virtuous?
  2.  Is it necessary (a morally neutral “good” like cutting the lawn)
  3.  Is it fun?

Imagine that! A 13th century saint putting fun on the same level as moral virtue! Now that’s something to think about. Try using this little test … it will simplify your life.

And then there is Kathy, a Catch regular and retired military officer who wrote: “I have never felt guilty over having fun – in fact by having fun, you learn how to connect with people, and love people, and share joy with people.” Get this – someone who put her life on the line in the serious, no nonsense military is teaching us about fun. That’s like my son, the police officer, who has people write letters to his precinct thanking them for how nice it was receiving a ticket from Christopher. He has three of these letters on file. Someone’s having fun!

I think Kathy has a big secret to fun. You need other people to share it. Connect with, love and share joy with other people. Simple enough. Risky, but simple. It’s safer to stay inside yourself, but the fun is outside.

Janet resonates with this. “I think having fun definitely includes other people. Tossing a frisbee is the best for me. I’m not that good; I just like being outside and tossing things. I laugh a lot when I’m doing this.”

And finally, the last is from my wife, Marti, who knows me so well, she skewered me with the following:

For people like you who have complicated life on earth with your needing to define everything, knowing the Word (whether you live it or not), and never connecting … you have to begin in the extreme. Jump out of a plane, drive a hot rod on a real motor race track, enjoy a day with someone without a home (and promise to come back the next day, and the next, and the next). Plan and carry out surprises, discontinue dwelling on yourself, live in your uncomfortableness … and just do it.

And then she took off on her own interpretation on the plaque in our kitchen …

Recognize your days are numbered, so actively make every minute count. Break the rules – stop living under the “No swimming” sign in your mind and all the rules you’ve made to govern your life; they are as ridiculous as stepping on a crack and breaking your mother’s back (besides, your mother is dead).

Kiss slowly – which means to enjoy the kiss because you are giving in to the kiss not sheepishly taking.

Love truly – there are many who love you, but few you truly love regardless of the other person’s response.

Laugh uncontrollably – which means laugh at yourself, for you truly are very funny. Laugh at the ridiculousness of holding yourself in and never stepping out from your own skin – not embracing everyone from babies to really old people. Laugh – and the world will laugh (at you, which is my point), and then maybe with you.  

And never regret anything that made you smile. Why do you consider that anything that makes you smile is a sin? Perhaps if you consider everything good as bad, maybe that is a primary reason why you do not have much fun.

In such extreme cases, I suggest you search until you find some pixie dust, sprinkle the whole bottle over you, think happy thoughts, and believe. The flying will come later.

I’m going to let Janet have the last words: “I’m having my own struggle with all of this right now and likely, it goes deeper than just not having fun. But having fun can make a huge difference in all of our lives. So let’s go play on the playground! Why do kids get to have all the fun?

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14 Responses to More fun

  1. Kathy Willis says:

    Marti nailed in on the head – I just have one more thing to add – tell me, when you attend a baseball game, do you have fun? Do you tear yourself up with thinking it’s a sin to have fun at a game, or do you JUST HAVE FUN??

    WIsh you enough (fun)!

  2. lstrovas says:

    Amazing post John, and one that really resonates with me these days. I’m finding myself, finding my heart and my emotions and my joy by having fun. I’d almost forgotten how. Crushed under the grief of loss and sin I found my life contracting until most days fun to me was getting home from wherever I’d “had” to go, slipping into my comfy clothes and crashing on the couch with the TV. I know, right?!!!! What this meant was I didn’t have to feel or engage or risk anything, especially my heart, which I’d already risked and suffered terrible loss and betrayal. But God was having none of it. The last year has been an agonizing work of freeing this frozen heart (I could totally relate to Elsa in Frozen!) and the culmination has been an all out frenzy of having fun! I’m going horseback riding with my best friend (haven’t had one of those in a long, long time) tomorrow for the third time, I’m knitting again, cooking up a storm, going to concerts (saw Midge Ure acoustic a couple weeks ago), hit the museum with Mom, having tea with new friends, got a library card, picking up my guitar again, am volunteering at our local theater (saw Les Mis last week!), and want to go dancing in the next few weeks (ballroom!). The list is endless of all the ways I want to have fun. It’s winter here in Atlanta so outdoor stuff is a bit limited, but come spring and summer there are mountains to hike and lakes to swim and gardens to explore. And the funny thing is, the more fun I have, the more time I seem to have and the more productive I am and the more I love people and life and God.

  3. Have you ever noticed that some of the strongest, happiest people you know have gone through some of life’s toughest challenges? At the same time, some of the saddest people are ones who have led a relatively easy life. That’s because life isn’t about what happens to us; it’s about how we react to what happens to us. It’s not about what we did or what was done to us; it’s about who we are when all is said and done…
    True, we all experience painful times and challenges along the way. But never let anything make you bitter. Instead, stay pleasant – or better yet, learn from your experiences and become a better (happier) person.

    (Excerpted from Holy Land Moments Daily Devotional: http://www.holylandmoments.org/devotionals/become-better-not-bitter)

  4. Paul Rabe says:

    As a Preacher’s Kid, I have grown up not trusting emotions. That gets to your term of “living as a Pharisee.” Anyone who has delved into Christian reasoning on a deeper level knows of the gnostic view of total depravity. It is the one Calvinism view I have to disagree with. Man’s body is good, even if it is only 10%. We call it sanctification as we develop into 20% – 75%. God causes us to grow but we have to try with our Will.

    • jwfisch says:

      I think I am in agreement with you, Paul. And everything God created was good, which would include us! All of us! And everything about us!

  5. Clayton says:

    Today I attended a luncheon with a group of very successful businessmen. All of them are at the top of their profession and in a rather odd twist of the conversation, several of them admitted that they almost always felt guilty if they were doing anything that was considered fun during a time that they considered “work” time. I don’t expect to ever reach the level of “success” that any of these men have attained but I promise if I can’t have at least a little fun at work, I’ll be looking for a new job. Same thing at church…..this life is too short….can’t wait to laugh with Jesus!

  6. Robert Smith says:

    GASP!!!
    I decided to listen to the “The Best of the Beatles” right now instead of the “Christian” fare out there – (actually, I don’t listen to Christian radio very much anymore).
    Remember the time when the such groups were considered emissaries of the devil and their music was considered the gateway to Hell??
    I missed a lot of fun times and good music back then – but not anymore!

    “Can’t buy me love, everybody tells me so…”

  7. Peter leenheer says:

    My life has been filled with one problem after another. My dad used to say to me that he thought I was a hard luck guy. The truth is that I am having the time of my life in God’s Grace! Kissing slowly sure is fun. Haven’t had so much fun in years.

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