I Remember Now ~ Laughter And The DNA Of God ~ Pastor Tim Tengblad ~ Post 14
“In the beginning, there was nothing. And God said, “let there be light”. There was still nothing, but you could see it a lot better”. Ellen DeGeneres
The title of this article is “Laughter And The DNA Of God”. The DNA of anything causes it to do whatever it does. The DNA of liver cells cause them to create a liver. The DNA of heart cells is different, and so they create and maintain a heart. What does this Being we call “God” always do? God loves. God is what connects everything. God lightens the burden.
Joy and laughter are major parts of the DNA of God. How can we naturally know this? Well, it’s important to know that God didn’t just create the world as something separate from itself, wind it up and said, “Off you go!”. God made the world OF itself. God is in the DNA of how true reality works, and in our bodies and minds. We can know that laughter is part of the DNA of God because laughter naturally does for us what God does! Laughter naturally heals, connects, and lightens.
Just look at what laughter does to the human body. Or in other words, how laughter stimulates the Divine built into our physical DNA:
Laughter lowers blood pressure. Laughter relaxes stress and tenseness in the body. Because of this, laughter can increase circulation. Stress/tension restrict flow, and God is one big flow of energy within everything. Studies have found that laughter can increase blood flow by 22%. Stress and tension can decrease blood flow by 35%! (I’ve always been in favor of blood flow!).
Laughter stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever.
”A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” Proverbs 17:22
”Don’t forget. You are unique. Just like everybody else”. Gospel of Tim 17:22
Laughter is internal jogging. Laughter increases your heart rate. The very act of laughing and increasing your heart rate, and then stopping your laughing and relaxing, gives the heart and muscles around it a fun work out. Laughter also causes us to breathe harder and deeper, thus increasing oxygen consumption (something to keep in mind if you have trouble getting yourself to the gym).
In these days of Covid we’re constantly hearing about strengthening our immune system. Yup. Laughter helps with that too by stimulating the release of various immune mediators.
Laughter is the jest medicine. Laugh for the health of it!
God is what connects everything to everything. We all know the saying, “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line”. Joel Goodman of the Humor Project taught me years ago that laughter is the shortest distance between two people. We all know the amazing connection we have felt when we’ve shared laughter with people. A quick and awesome connection is experienced when we are with people we don’t know at all, or seemingly don’t have much in common with, and we simply share a laugh! Few experiences transcend the barriers of race, culture, religion, age, and even politics like shared laughter. In shared laughter we experience our Oneness, and we’re having fun doing it! Hmmm. I wonder what could happen if Congress just laughed together once a week?
We all know that people who love to laugh, have a great laugh, or make people laugh, attract other people. We naturally want to be with them. Because God is what connects everything to everything, God’s DNA is within us and IS us. As Brene Brown says, “we are hard wired for connection”. We literally meet God in one another. God within us recognizes God in the other through laughter, and joy is the result.
Laughter connects us with our humanity. Another quote that Joel Goodman loves to share is this: “You grow up the first day you have your first real laugh at yourself. Aren’t we attracted to people who don’t take themselves so seriously and can laugh at themselves? We love their vulnerability and it draws us to them. When we laugh at ourselves we become a place of pure grace for people. We are a safe place for them to be invited into and they can simply be themselves. Perhaps they will feel free to share some of their own vulnerability.
I always found that Church life was the perfect breeding ground for humor. What makes us laugh? Something that’s unexpected. That’s what makes physical humor funny. Someone trips (and doesn’t hurt themselves), or says something in a way they didn’t mean to say it, and we laugh.
If you really need a laugh, go to YouTube and watch bloopers of TV newscasters or TV shows. People who can’t stop laughing light the spark of Divine joy in my DNA every time.
Anyway, here we are in Church trying to be so “spiritual” or “religious” and all this humanity keeps breaking out. There was the time I was handing out communion to a woman who was kneeling at the Communion rail. She dropped the wafer I handed to her and it fell into her cleavage. I won’t tell you what my first instinct was (which I didn’t act on thankfully). I didn’t know what to do. In the awkwardness and vulnerability of the moment she just looked up at me with a smile and said, “I’ll get it later. Can I have another?” There was an honest to God positive change in our relationship after that. We started laughing more about other things when we were together.
Or there’s the time I interviewed for a Youth Director job at a Lutheran Church while I was in college. I met the pastor who walked me over to the room where the Interview Committee was waiting for me. They were seated in a half circle facing the door. As I entered the room and was looking at the pastor, I tripped over a rise I didn’t see at the door. I so completely lost my balance that I ended up on all fours looking straight up at the Committee! Now this was the first time they had laid eyes on me. I simply looked up and said, “Well, how do you like me so far?” I got the job!
Fun fact: For years ideas have come to me the second I sat down on the toilet in the morning. I don’t know why. Maybe my spirit guides figured out how to get through to me. Maybe they knew a captive audience when they saw one. For decades ideas for sermons would come from this holy encounter with the Divine. When I would get to the point in the sermon where I was talking about that idea, in the back of my mind I was often thinking, “If you only knew where I was when that idea came to me!”.
Have you ever noticed how serious we immediately get when we focus on spiritual matters, or when we try and “be spiritual”and engage in spiritual practices like meditation or prayer? It would help us all so much if we’d just lighten up about it! The other day I was trying to meditate a bit and I totally sucked at it. I couldn’t focus. My monkey mind was jumping like crazy. I couldn’t detach from my identification with my thoughts. I finally just laughed at myself! It felt so good. It allowed me to relax and I could just be what I was in that moment.
We’re here to be human, with all our foibles. Laugh at them and learn from them!
So you say, “I’m with you Tim. I love to laugh and wish I could laugh more, but these are such dark, serious times. It’s hard to go there”. Yup. All the more reason to be INTENTIONAL about building more humor into your daily life. Intentionally creating humor in my life is as much a part of my daily life as sleeping and eating. Every once in awhile I stop and realize, “Holy Moly! I’ve been so serious today!” We can get lost in it and not even realize we unconsciously jumped on the Serious Train, and have been taken for a ride for hours, days, or weeks. Two years now you say?
Things we have labeled as problems can seem only serious and overwhelming. Another Joel Goodman quote I love is “the next best thing to solving a problem is to see the humor in it”. Hint: humor is super close to being in EVERYthing! I once sat with a woman after a very heavy rain in Bloomington, MN in 1987. Bloomington was flooded. Her backyard was totally flooded along with water in her basement. As we were sitting on her deck looking out over her backyard, she looked at me and said, “Well, I always wanted to own lakeshore property!”.
Once we see the humor in any situation, it relaxes our minds and we’re much more open to seeing it in a new light. We can see responses to it we never saw before. We all know the good stuff/the magic happens when we’re simply open. Then the Flow can better flow, even in a hard situation.
What do you see when you look at this: Opportunity is nowhere . Do you see opportunity is nowhere? Or do you see see opportunity is now here? It all depends on where we’re looking.
Another teaching from Joel Goodman: Look for humor and humor will find you. So true. These are heavy times, but humor is still out there and it’s everywhere! For example, I go to LifeTime Fitness, where there is senior parking closest to the building. Every time I drive into the parking lot a laugh is just waiting for me. I think “Hmmm…designated parking closest to the building, so I don’t have to walk as far to go into the building where I will be exercising!” Makes me laugh every time!
Whatever makes you laugh, make a daily date with it! Your favorite sitcom? Be intentional about watching it! Favorite comedian, be intentional about watching them! Connect with that person who makes you laugh. Be intentional about making others laugh. So many of us want to say, “Oh, I’m not funny. I can’t tell jokes”. It’s not about any of that. We’re all hilarious just being us! I’ve learned to have a really good time with myself. I thought about this the other day as I caught myself putting my car fob into the refrigerator.
Again we hear our neurotic and fearful ego saying, “how can you laugh today? There’s so much serious, heavy, terrible stuff happening! Tom Mullen in his book, “Laughing Out Loud And Other Religous Experiences” wrote, “Laughter is an act of faith. A belief in a God who can be trusted”. So true! Remember the messages from the other side are never “Oh my God! This is serious! What in the world are you going to do?” No. The messages are always about peace, and some form of “All is well. It’s going to be OK.”
Be serious about humor. Oscar Wilde said, “Life is too important to be taken seriously”. We’re here to do important things like learning about love and contributing to the Whole. I don’t know a more universal way to do that than to share laughter.
When we laugh we have direct experience of the Divine, and we’re reminded that God is joy.
I remember now!
Pastor Tim Tengblad
P.S. Seriously. Go ahead and try that YouTube bloopers idea.