Silly, witty, comical – words rarely, if ever, used to describe me. No, I inherited my dad’s serious demeanor. Smiles and chuckles constitute the extent of my joviality – most of the time. But every so often, something lands on the bullseye of my funny bone, provoking breath-stealing laughter accompanied by tears of merriment.
Such was the case one recent evening when my 8-year-old grandson Joshua and I ate dinner at my parents’ house. We’d almost finished our meal when the phone rang. Dad answered. Despite his solemn character, he’s been known to have some fun with telemarketers. He once told a carpet cleaning rep we had no use for his company’s services because we lived in a shack with dirt floors.
“Recording. Someone calling about cleaning ducts.” he reported as he made his way back to the table.
Alas, no chance for a funny exchange. But wait!
Just as I took a drink of water, I noticed Joshua’s confused look. I knew in an instant what was coming next and oh how I regretted taking that extra-large gulp.
Wide-eyed, Joshua asked, “Duck cleaning?”
Bullseye! No way could I swallow the water without it being sucked into my lungs as I began to cackle. Out it came in an explosive burst, inundating my plate, spilling over the edge of the table and onto my lap. In between guffaws and gasps for air, I managed to squeak out a few apologies.
It took several minutes for my laughter to subside enough to assure my worried parents I would survive and to explain to Joshua what Papop actually said. In spite of my uncharacteristic outburst of glee, Joshua willingly went home with me to spend the night as planned.
Serious, contemplative, not very good at telling jokes – now there are some descriptors more befitting my persona. In fact, there are times when I try to be funny and people still take me seriously, a trait that’s come in handy over the years on April 1st, but proves frustrating otherwise. And then there’s a longtime pal who dubbed me “least spontaneous” among her friends.
Taken together, these labels conspire to make me feel un-fun, boring, less-than. But a recent devotional reading reminded me when God knits us together (Psalm 139:13), He creates a unique package – physical appearance, gifts and graces, and temperament. Thus God determined the just-so blend of Dad’s resting-face scowl and Mom’s irrepressible smile along with myriad other physical and emotional components resulting in me. No mistakes, no room to covet aspects of others’ personalities or giftedness (1Corinthians 12:12-26).
And so it is for each of us. Not in a “this is me, take it or leave it” way, since we have the assurance our temperaments are being sanctified as we’re transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29), but in a way that’s most glorifying to God.
I may not accept a last-minute invitation or be able to remember a punchline, but if you need a safe place for a quiet conversation over a cup of tea, I’m your person. Underneath this sometimes stoic exterior resides a cheerful and welcoming heart, one that even appreciates moments of unbridled, soul-lifting laughter.