Friday, August 16, 2013
"Laughter is the best medicine"
Tragedy is a natural and predictable part of life that spares no one. Everyone has to walk through a valley or two from time to time. Some valleys are "self imposed valleys" brought about by bad choices. This is a valley you actually choose to walk down into. Others are "unexpected valleys". These are the ones that people suddenly find themselves in due to an accident, illness, or an event beyond their control.
It is NO fun when you look around and find yourself standing at the deepest part of a valley. If it was a bad choice that got you there, then you need to examine what went wrong and work to correct it. How long you stay in the valley often depends on your ability to realize your personal responsibility in the situation, your acceptance of the natural consequences of your choices, and your decision to make better choices in the future. In other words, you chose to walk down into the valley, and you can choose to walk out.
Unexpected valleys stink too. These valleys are the ones you find yourself in when you get that horrible phone call telling you that there has been a terrible accident. It's the valley you are in because of the awful diagnosis that your doctor just gave you, or it's the valley you find yourself occupying because of an event of some sort that you never could have imagined would ever happen to you. Suddenly and without much warning, you find yourself there. You are standing right in the middle of a valley, looking up, and wondering how to get out. How long will you be in the valley? The answer may or may not depend on you. You may have control over it, and you may not.
When I was pregnant with Christopher, I never imagined myself cradling him in my arms while standing in the deepest, darkest part of an unexpected valley. Instead I envisioned us "on top of the hill" celebrating birthdays and Christmas parties. This wasn't supposed to happen! We did every thing right, at least I thought we did, and yet here we were. Now what?
My ability to control the situation was limited. I did the things I could do like asking for help from the doctors and following their advice. I cared for Christopher to the best of my ability and loved him with all my heart, but I was unable to carry him out of the valley. I really didn't understand why this was happening, but I did know that we had to find a way to deal with the situation we were in while looking for a way out.
It would require both patience and persistence. I was short on both, but I soon realized that I would have to dig deep inside myself and muster up the courage to find a way through. Many times I wanted to give up, but all it would take was one look at Christopher for me to realize that giving up was not an option. I made the decision to find a way, or at least a way "around".
What did it feel like in that valley? As you can imagine, it was suffocating. I felt helpless, sad, and depressed. I was so tempted to give in to the valley. It seemed too big, too deep. I didn't think I had what it took to climb out. Maybe it would just be easier to accept that this was the "new normal" and just get used to the valley, but as I looked around I realized that it was so horrible here that there was no possible way that I wanted Christopher to be a "regular" in this valley. I had to keep searching for a way out.
I decided that the only way to get through this was to make the best of things while continuing to search for solutions. I didn't have any control over what was happening, but I did have control over my reactions to it! I could choose to continue to fall apart and cry endlessly, or I could choose to get a handle on my emotions and look for answers. Since crying was only making me feel worse and wasn't helping Christopher in the least, I chose to wipe the tears off my face and listen to my inner "momma bear", which is that precious gift that God gives moms in order to help us get courageous and get moving! It wasn't easy, but it was better.
That's why in my last blog I made reference to laughter. What I really mean by that is looking at things through a more positive lens. You have to take a look at the things around you, the people around you, and the opportunities around you. They are there, but you have to choose to see them. God put them there to soothe you and help you while you are in the valley. He knows you are there. He knows you are scared, but He wants you to know that He is there too. You are not alone. You are not without hope!
Life in the valley may seem hopeless, but God gives us coping skills to help us while we are there. We have to call on our special abilities and talents. We have to search for the answeres and do the hard things in order to get through. We have to decide to move forward and not allow ourselves to get stuck. Sometimes this means looking for "the silver lining", or for the good that can come out of bad, or even for the good-hearted laugh or two that can be a much needed lifeperserver in the midst of a tumultuous sea.
I found that all these strategies were helpful, especially laughter. Read a funny book or watch a funny movie. Try talking to a funny friend. Take a break from your grief and stress, or you may become overwhelmed by it. Of course there is a time and a place for everything. Be cautious not to use laughter as a means to avoid solving your problems. Instead, use it as a respite in order to revive your tired soul.
I believe God gives us humor as a hopeful light when you find yourself in a dark place. It relieves tension and keeps you sane in the midst of complete chaos. It allows you to put things in perspective, focus on the positive, and move forward despite your circumstances. It's a way to endure the situation while you work to find solutions.
Mirth is God's medicine. Everybody should bathe in it.
-Henry Ward Beecher
Laughter is an instant vacation.
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can pray like this: