I like to laugh. However, most of the time, I’m a hard nut to crack. Usually it’s because I get lost in observing the moment and forget to express my delight. And then there are the times when I do laugh but at the most inappropriate moments.
One time on my mission, my companion and I visited a member’s house. The member was a single mom with a special-needs child. Her hands were quite full. But this good sister was one of the sweetest, kindest souls I’ve ever met. She invited the missionaries into her home despite her meager circumstances and busy schedule.
On this particular night, I’m not sure what overcame my companion and me but we got the giggles. No, not giggles, we caught the laughing bug – and we could not stop. I have no idea what prompted the fit. It was a difficult companionship – for me (she really had no complaints. Insert winky-emoticon here) so maybe it was a stress release. Or perhaps it was the fact we were both exhausted. I really don’t know. What I do know is we spent most of the visit laughing – uncontrollably at the slightest provocation. No matter how hard we tried, we could not contain our mirth.
Our host, as sweet as she was, smiled politely. But she didn’t understand what was so funny. That’s because nothing was really that funny. Somewhere deep inside, I sensed we were rude. But that didn’t alleviate matters. We made excuses for our behavior: “Laughter is the best medicine” and “we must have needed it so it was okay.” It wasn’t until weeks later when we recounted the visit to a fellow missionary that I truly felt ashamed. I still feel some of that shame. Just today I thought of David and his sweet mother and wished I could apologize.
For the record, the laugh was great and cleansing. The timing stunk.
As I’ve matured, those irrepressible laugh sessions have become less frequent. Am I learning to control myself better? Maybe.
A few years ago, I sat in a church classroom on a Sunday. I had just been called into the Young Women’s Presidency and listened as the teacher gave the lesson. The message was good. It was about how each of us is here on earth to be a tool. Tool in this instance referring to “a device for doing work” or “something used for a job” (Encarta Dictionary). However, when she instructed us to all “Be tools” it was all I could do to keep a straight face for the remainder of the lesson. In my mind I was thinking of another definition, “Somebody manipulated by another” (Encarta). And I thought it was funny.
Luckily, I was still new to the calling and toeing the mark. I swallowed the giggle and did not make eye contact with anyone even though she repeated the message several times. If I remember right, I may have chuckled a bit when I was alone in my car. I didn’t want the teacher to feel bad because teaching a lesson is hard enough without having a heckler (especially a fellow adult leader) in the crowd.
Just the other day, I taught the lesson. Our topic was “The ability to succeed” and I wanted to make a point to not listen to negative voices. I told the young women there is a figurative mean little guy that sits on our shoulders telling us lies about ourselves and trying to make us compare ourselves with others. We need to, this is where I changed my mind of what to say and it came out awkwardly, flip him off. That caused some laughter. And yes, I laughed at myself.
The point is, I need to a have a laugh-so-hard-I-can’t-breathe-and-can’t-stop-and-don’t-want-to-stop session. But at the appropriate time, of course.
Have you ever laughed at the wrong time?