Very recently, I was in a conversation with two other people which could have culminated in a bad way but instead, the outcome was a productive one. One of the other people in the conversation was a teenager and the third was an adult and an authority figure in that young person’s life. As the conversation progressed , it was evident that this teen was becoming somewhat tense and perhaps a bit upset with the direction that the discussion was going. When this became apparent to the other adult, he began to use a technique or a tool if you will that immediately broke through the tension and apprehension. You may be wondering what I am speaking of …it is the power of humor. Humor carries such power yet is something that is often untapped and under rated.

 

 Humor can diffuse tension, disarm anger, minimize fear, and encourage hearts. In the conversation that I referred to in the beginning of this article, the young person was receiving instruction and at one point seemed to be on the verge of getting emotional. The adult talking cracked a few jokes, smiled and I saw this young person relax, chuckle and ironically become more receptive to what was being said. I firmly believe that nothing else but humor would have brought that desired result at that point in the conversation. By causing all of us to laugh, this third party communicated the feeling of acceptance and understanding instead of condemnation and judgment.

 

 Humor has minimized fear in countless ways in folks lives. This truth was proven in what took place following the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.  It has been widely reported that when President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinkley, that he was rushed to the hospital and it was not initially known how severe the injury was. The wound could quite possibly have been fatal. Nancy Reagan, the president’s wife was driven to the hospital. She was terrified as she rushed to his side to be with him. He went into surgery and afterwards, in the recovery room , he awoke to see her looking down at him . He was coherent yet extremely weak but  he said “ Honey, I forgot to duck!”  His attempt at humor in a life threatening situation did not alleviate all of her concern but it did minimize her fear to some degree. I read an article in which she said that she was still very fearful and feeling tremendous panic, but his quick wit and joking spirit helped her immensely at that split second as it  was so typical of him.  

 

 My youngest son is one of the funniest people that I know. He is now twenty-three years old and since he has been in his late teens, he has used humor to his advantage more times than I can remember. There were several occasions in which he was out of line in something that he said or did, and when I spoke his name in a definite, irritated tone, he would swing his head around and have a hilarious facial expression that is nothing short of hysterical to look at. He knows that I simply cannot see that particular face that he puts on without laughing. He could disarm me and my anger in a flash and he knew it. He used humor very effectively to his own benefit. Now that he is a married man and no longer under the authority of my husband and I, he no longer uses his humor to keep himself from getting into trouble but now he uses it very effectively to disarm me. If I am irritated or frustrated at a certain situation, he will flash me that face and talk in the most ridiculous hilarious manner that I have a hard time staying mad or agitated. He is such a master of it that sometimes I will not even allow myself to look at him if I am upset about an issue and want to seriously convey my feelings. He has the ability to really ruin a “good mad” as I call it and he can make me laugh at myself in a heartbeat.

 

 Humor is a healing agent as well. The medical profession is now claiming that hearty laughter can have a healing effect on an ill person. Hospitals and cancer institutes are publishing reports that their terminally ill patients who are jovial and light hearted with a tendency to laugh easily and often are proving to have significant results in slowing the spreading of the cancer as well as seeing periods of remission lengthened.

 

 Humor is an essential component of public speaking. Whether it is at a convention,a business meeting, or a congregational church service, the speakers who are successful and have the most impact are often very funny folks. My personal opinion is that humorous preachers are the best and most effective ones. Why do I say that? I say that because preachers are those that proclaim messages that are often not popular. They are telling us the truth about ourselves, our sin nature, our selfishness, our pride, our wrong thinking and a myriad of other facts about ourselves that we tend to not want to hear. While it is true that these are serious and sobering topics, sometimes injecting a bit of humor into illustrations helps the listener to connect to the messenger in a way that might not happen otherwise. Being able to show a sense of fun actually conveys a warmth and a vulnerability that says “Hey, we’re all in this thing together, I am not higher or better than you.” The ultra serious preachers have not yet realized this important truth and could learn much from those who have.

 

 I will often stagger the writing of these blogs so as to write about a serious subject one day and then perhaps a really funny story involving the antics of my boys when they were little on another day. It is just so vital that we all try to maintain that balance in our lives. I want to be careful to not be misunderstood as saying that all of life is carefree, hilarious and light as we all know that is not reality however comedic relief and brevity certainly has it’s value and place. Perhaps every now and then it would be wise to throw stern and serious out the window and take a stab at finding the “funny” in some of life’s stresses. It may not solve the problem but it can surely make surviving it a lot less painful and you might actually laugh a bit when it is all said and done. Humor…it’s a powerful tool..make it your friend!