Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC
“He will fill your mouth with laughter; your lips will spill over into cries of delight.”
Job 8:21 (The Voice)
When was the last time you laughed until you cried? Do you remember it? I bet just thinking about it right now makes you giggle a little.
It actually doesn’t happen that often for me. I love to laugh with friends, hear a good joke, or watch something funny. But, to laugh until I cry is just not a place I get to very easily.
I chalk some of it up to having a personality that is always well prepared and in control. And let’s be honest, to laugh until you cry is anything but being in control. What it is in actuality is being so fully relaxed in the moment – head, heart, mind, emotions, and all – that emotions spill out through tears. It is so good for the soul to be in that place, and I absolutely love it when I get there, but most days it feels safer to stay in my head than to be that relaxed in the moment.
However, God is teaching me how to let my walls down and be fully relaxed with people (head, heart, mind, emotions, and all) but it’s definitely been a journey that I’ve had to be intentional about taking. I’ve never had a problem being fully present or authentically me with people, but trying to go from “fully present” to “completely relaxed” has been a long journey – a good one, but a long one.
Still, because this doesn’t come naturally to me, every now and then God surprises me, striking out of nowhere, bringing me to tears of laughter and “cries of delight” in the most unexpected of circumstances.
Over the past year or so, I’ve had the privilege of spending time with a new friend I met at a women’s Bible study. We have embarked on an “informal” mentoring relationship and it’s been wonderful to share with her all that God has shown me and continues to teach me. I call it “informal” because there is no agenda when we spend time together; we are just sharing life.
It’s been refreshing to pour into someone’s life this way because by having no structured agenda, I just get to be me. I share the good, the bad, the ugly, and how I still see God working in every situation.
Over this past year, she has expressed her gratitude about my being real and authentic and how it makes my heart happy. We’ve laughed together on many occasions, but as real as I’ve been, I can honestly say that I haven’t relaxed to the point of being completely vulnerable to tears of laughter.
Well, God apparently thought that needed to change.
A few months ago, the two of us met up for dinner before a conference we were attending at our church. Dinner was good and we had great conversation. I vaguely remember her saying something early on about a recent dentist appointment but the specifics were a little fuzzy to me. We talked about many other things as well and then headed off to the conference.
The lobby was full as we entered the building, but we quickly registered and found ourselves standing around waiting for the doors to open. Then it happened. Very casually, my friend turns to me and says, “Do you have a crown?”
Ok people, context is everything!
I can’t tell you what I was thinking at that moment, but let’s just say the dentist was the last thing on my mind. So I furrowed my brow, thought for a second, and with the straightest face said, “No. Well, it’s not a crown, but I have a tiara.”
Ok, it only took about 2 seconds for the synapses in my brain to finally connect and realize what she meant. In all truthfulness, had my mind never caught up, the look on her face was so pricelessly confused that it alone would have gotten me there. But when her confused eyes met mine and we both realized what I had said, we burst into laughter. My face turned red, I started sweating profusely and ended up laughing until I cried. For days after, just thinking about the absurdity of what I said made me laugh – out loud.
God knows exactly what our hearts need at any given moment.
On that particular day, God knew that I needed to let go and laugh until I cried, and it was so good for my soul. I’m certain I will always remember this incident with fondness. But it isn’t just remembering the laughter that brought me to tears that day (though that does make me still giggle). There’s something much more profound that I hold onto in this memory.
It’s the knowledge that God loves me so much, he is willing to look with laser-sharp focus into every detail of my life. He cares about building my character and helping me grow in grace, but he also cares very much about little things like helping me learn to relax and even laugh until I cry.
This… this is the personal God of the universe who “sits enthroned above the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22).
Do you know him?
For Your Reflection…
Do you know him; this personal God who wants you to relax and be filled with simple joy in life, even laughter? When was the last time he surprised you with simple joy?