Proverbs 31 talks about a woman that many of us strive to be, and if you are like me, maybe you wonder if you will ever even come close. There are many scriptures that talk about certain traits of a Godly woman, but one has always stood out to me. The scripture that says…
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, she laughs at the days to come.”
She laughs at the days to come. If I really stop and think about what that means, it blows my mind. Every time I read this I would interpret it to mean that she was never worried or upset. I think to myself, what kind of woman NEVER gets worried or upset? I mean, isn’t that in our DNA? And I don’t know, I guess there is always the possibility that maybe she wasn’t worried. But she was a woman, who had children, and a husband, and a home. Chances are, she had “moments”. I mean she was human after all. I am past the days of thinking that people in the bible were somehow these super hero, non humans. They were just as human as us.
Have you ever had the kind of day (or season) where every time you turn around something bad happens or in a couple months time, your whole life changed and you have no idea what’s next? Or maybe it’s something as simple as your cranky toddler being so ridiculous in a tantrum that all you can do is just laugh? I have. There are times when the most logical response would be tears and fists in the air or if we are REALLY being honest, a few unsavory syllables muttered under our breath. But sometimes I am surprised at the almost involuntary response of laughter. Where does that come from? For me, it’s been the kind of from the belly laughter that makes you think, “ok, that person has officially lost it.” It’s what you would expect from someone who has just suffered a mental breakdown. To some that might not LOOK like a good thing. Some may interpret laughter to mean many things. To me, it represents surrender. It says I have come to the end of my rope and all I can do is laugh at the ridiculousness of either the situation or my response to it. I picture someone who is walking and suddenly trips and falls flat on their rear. That’s pretty embarrassing, but that person has the option to react in multiple ways. They can get mad or they can laugh at themselves. I have done both. Can you guess which response left me with joy? Sure, I understand the falling down scenario is quick and probably won’t have lasting affects or consequences, so one could say laughing isn’t a hard response? But it’s all in how we approach things and I am learning that; the hard way.
I got to experience this first hand recently. Jer and I have had to walk through an extremely challenging situation lately. (He and I are totally fine, and no one is sick). But to be honest, it’s been probably one of the hardest things I have faced up until now. It’s been a battle, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And while the intensity of the situation has died down, I am now going through the recovery process, and God only knows how long this will take. This last month, on a random night at home with the family, it just happened. With no warning at all, the floodgates just opened. I literally wept. I don’t think I had actually ever wept before. It’s beyond crying hard, or even sobbing. It’s the soul crushing, crying from the depths of your body kind of crying. It’s the release of weeks/months of heartache, prayer, surrender and repeat. It’s the knowledge that nothing will ever.be.the.same. For me, it was the realization that the first 30 years of my life was one way, and now it will be something else. And had anyone besides Jer been there with me, they would have thought I had completely lost my marbles. But then something suprising happened. In the midst of the weeping, I actually started laughing. Totally involuntary, but yes I was laughing and I could not stop. I had never experienced that before, at least not in the middle of a crying session. But there was something revealing about it. That in the biggest expression of grief, there was a release. So where does that come from?
In my life experiences, where it almost seems too impossible to figure out or accomplish on my own, I have come to believe that it is a supernatural release and response. And I believe that this Proverbs 31 women, in all her attributes was the most wise and real woman because she simply laughed. Why? Because sometimes it’s involuntary, but sometimes it’s a choice. A mindset that surrenders our response to something bigger than us. It says, this is really crappy or frustrating but I am going to laugh as a sign of inner joy that comes with the security of a God who holds every moment in his hands. The verse says she is “clothed with strength and dignity” which means she is NOT melting down and going crazy.Yet she still chooses to laugh! I, however am still working on the not melting down part. But to me, this means I could be laughing at some pretty crazy stuff that most people would frown or be upset about! And how many times have I been super worried or upset about something? I have to ask myself, “how much better off would I be, if I simply chose to laugh?” When I really stop to think about it, I realize that as Holy and awesome as God is, He is also super creative and has to have a sense of humor with some of his creations and because he created laughter. But for me it’s about positioning myself to be able to just laugh.
To be completely real, right now, at this very moment, I don’t feel like laughing. As I wander through the ups and downs of this cruel roller coaster of emotions and thoughts, I want to just get mad. I want to cry, and/or run away to the ocean for a indefinite amount of time. Right now, every day is different and each day holds precious, and priceless moments. But they also hold memories and reminders that life will never be the same. But as I sit here in my funk, frustrated about a handful of things, I feel this pulling, or nudging to a place of throwing my head back and laughing. To release it, and let it go. So I have been trying. Some days I am trying to lighten up with my girls and just go crazy. Other days, it’s more of a chore.
SO I have to wonder, what are some things that you/I could laugh at?
Loss: job, home, relationship, etc
death of a loved one
big life change/new season
The list could go on and on. Things that are legitimately devastating. So how does that verse apply to those scenarios? And is this verse ONLY in a passage of scripture that refers to WOMEN? I realize the answer is that God created us women, and He knows us so intimately, and so well, that He knew this was a struggle. It was another area where we would have to rely on Him. From what i have observed by being married, is that while men definitely carry emotional weight, they are much better at compartmentalizing things. They can be worried about something, but most of the time, they are able to put it aside to focus on something else. Women, are not. I am not the expert here, but I think God wants to get us to this place. The place of surrender. And only He knows how. And all of us have our own time frame. There is no cookie cutter mold, except for how He leads us into that place where we can really laugh. The next surprise revelation to me was that “laughing” is dignified. The verse even says so. “She is clothed in strength and DIGNITY. She laughs at the days to come.” Her laughing at her situation is her diplomatic approach to the world around her to let the cares of this world melt away with a good, old fashioned belly laugh, rather than the alternative, freak out and panic method.
The more I get into this, I asked myself, there has to be other scriptures that talk laughter. There are…
“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” Luke 6:21
“… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” Ecclesiastes 3:4
“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:
God created laughter for a specific purpose. As a release. As a method of inner joy. As a step forward towards Him and towards the future. But He also created it for many other things, and I find it fascinating that even scientifically, they have found laughter to be better forms of medicine than what even modern medicine can offer us. For instance, laughter has been proven to do the following…
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
Those are the physical health benefits. Here are some of the mental health benefits.
- Adds joy and zest to life
- Eases anxiety and fear
- Relieves stress
- Improves mood
- Enhances resilience
Laughter is an ancient but useful tool God has given us to lighten the heaviest of loads. It makes sense that during wars, they would send comedians and show people to the troops/soldiers to lighten the load. They faced death constantly which can be a scary and heavy thing. Something as simple as laughter gave them the push to get to the next battle. It helped them forget for just a moment that they were away from their loved ones fighting for their country or their cause. It also makes sense on a lighter level why when I am feeling down, I sometimes like to go watch Tim Hawkins clips, or the read through the humor page on pinterest. Something deep down, whether I realize it or not is craving that release from heaviness. There is something to be said about grief and allowing it to take it’s course. But God has offered us a precious way to pause it and/or see it through with some lightheartedness.
One of the most painful lessons I am learning is that the days that have passed, and the “days to come” are not in our control. People’s actions or thoughts towards us are also NOT in our control. What we can control is our response to them. I am daily in a process to move towards excellence as a woman. It’s a delicate balance between striving and letting go. I am not great at that all the time, but I am learning. So here is to laughter as the best medicine and for giving into the gift that God gave me to make the journey just a little bit sweeter.
Feedback: Is there a time you are willing to share when laughter lightened your load and changed your perspective?? Would love to hear about it!