Posts Tagged ‘humor’

Humility is a virtue much esteemed by God.  James 4:6 tells us that : “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  The problem with humility is that it leaves no room for selfishness, self-centeredness, and pride – traits that are natural and easy.  Humility is an essential virtue for us to live in right relation with God and with our fellow-man.  Jesus summed up the law in two love commandments.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself.”  An inordinate self-love is an obstacle to this all out love for God and others.  Interestingly, as we grow to love God and others more we come to the place where we see ourselves as God sees us.  We develop an appropriate love for ourselves which is not based upon some caricature the world, the flesh, or the devil tries to get us to accept. 

I have a true story that illustrates how the process of humility can be worked out.  I am in my early 50’s now.  A few years ago as I was nearing 50 I took my wife, our then 15-year-old son and a friend of his to Table Rock mountain for a day of hiking.  We set out to summit the mountain about noon.  The sign at the bottom indicated that we needed 5 hours for the hike.  Since it was early spring we could do it, but we would be getting down back to the parking area pretty close to dark.  I told the boys that we might have to hurry at times which to them sounded like fun.  My wife chose not to climb the mountain with us.  Something about the look in my eye when I said we might have to hurry discouraged her participation.

I took my nice digital SLR camera because I enjoy photography.  Up the trail we went.  The boys took me literally as we alternately jogged and walked our way to the top of the mountain.  The view from the top was spectacular and we stayed  close to an hour taking pictures and eating lunch.  When we started back down the boys again slipped into “hurry mode” and began jogging and hiking.  Actually it was more of a run than a jog.  As the boys picked up speed and added distance between us I was forced to run to keep up.  On at least three occasions as I was running, holding my fairly large camera to keep it safe, the thought ran through my head… “I’ve still got it… I can still move great… Dan’s still the man!”  I distinctly remember thinking this as I bounded from the top of one boulder to another boulder to another.  And for each of those three times the verse from the Old Testament would quickly follow in a gentle whisper – “Pride goes before the fall.”  Now I have to admit something here that I have not mentioned in the numerous renditions of this story with my family.  Each of those times I slowed down.  Not because I was truly worried about myself, but because I thought of the possible damage I would do to my camera. 

About halfway down the mountain the boys started to get some separation from me… and that bothered me.  At one point a couple of young girls – about 11 – 13 years old I guessed stepped into the trail in front of me and started walking slowly down the mountain chatting about boys and such.  Did I mentioned how ssslllooowwwllllyyyyyy they were walking?  While I could hear the boys at first the sound of their noisy dash down the mountain grew fainter and fainter.  And I was growing more and more impatient.  Finally my chance came as the trail split around a tree.  As the girls took the left side of the tree I accelerated to pass them on the right side.  I thought I would be polite and say, “Girls, I’m passing on the right”, but all I got out was “Gir…” as my toe hooked a rock and I started into my fall.  You know how people describe a traumatic experience where everything goes into slow motion.  Well the fall was kind of like that.  I realized that I was taking a tumble and there was no way I was going to get my feet under me.  I thought of my camera, I thought of how silly I must look, I thought “why am I running down a mountain?”  

For a moment I was tumbling and suddenly I was stopped in a pile of numbness on the ground.  I remember slowly standing up and feeling the buzz of adrenalin.  My first thought was my camera… did I break it?  I knew that my immediate reaction as I began to fall was to pull it in and protect it with my body.  As I am inspecting my camera the girls had come up.  “Mister are you awright?”  “Mister can we hep you?”  “Are you OK, mister?”  A quick inventory told me my camera was probably okay.  The fact that I was now standing told me that the pain in my leg was probably not a broken bone although it was a huge Charley horse.  The girls pointed out that I had broken something – my nice Costa Del Mar sunglasses that were hanging crookedly across my face.  “Mister can we do anything for ya?”  To which I replied, “Yeah, please call those boys and ask them to come back.” 

As I continued to take an inventory of where I hurt, I heard one of the girls walk over to the edge where the mountain drops steeply down and yell, “Yo, Yo Dogs – The OLD Guy Needs You!”  So if the fall, the broken glasses, and the multiple pains were not bad enough, then the OLD Guy phrase really made an excellent point of the whole Pride is Not My Friend message of the day.  But things were not over.  The boys came, helped me get going and them promptly headed down the mountain at a rapid pass again.  There was no more running down the mountain for me.  Actually there was barely limping down the mountain.

Now I have a running line that I share with people that I once prayed for humility and the next day I met my future wife.  It is a joke that brings a chuckle on most occasions.  Lisa is a bright woman the Lord has used greatly to help mold and shape my life.  On this particular day it appeared that God really wanted to drive the whole Pride is a Bad Thing point home with forcefulness.  As I hobbled up to the car Lisa was in the passenger seat.  I came up to her side and asked if she could drive.   Her chuckle became all out laughter as the boys shared the story with her.  And the story has become one of the family favorites when we get together.  Lisa’s friend in Louisiana always refers to me as “the OLD guy” now, never my real name.  Oh well, I am sure the reminder is a positive thing even if I do come out looking silly.

My father had a heart attack in his early 50″s.  I remember his first words to me as I walking into the hospital CICU room with him connected to various monitors and IV’s.  “Son, I am so glad the Lord will do whatever it takes to get my attention.”  Today, I have to echo that sentiment.  I wish I learned my lessons simply by reading about them, but sometimes it takes more.  Our Father knew that and He provided a lesson in humility for me that continues to resonate to this day.  Thank You Lord for all You have done, even when it hurts!

Have a blessed day and be a blessing!

Read Full Post »

I’m convinced that laughter is the lubricant of life.  Being a Maintenance and Reliability Engineer I know a bit about lubricants.  Rotating equipment will only run a little while without the proper lubricant before friction will begin to generate heat, wear, and damage.  In a similar way disagreements and conflict will bring about heat, wear, and damage in our relationships.  Laughter, like a good lubricant, minimizes the friction caused when two persons come into close contact.

There are four primary considerations for a lubricant that ensure success.  The first is that the correct lubricant be selected.  The final three all relate to quality of the lube – clean, cool, and dry.  For simplicity sake I am going to talk about oil when referring to lubricant even though there are different types of lubricants other than oil.  Most people know that they need to have oil in their car’s engine so that imagery will work well in our illustration.

Let’s look at the first key trait.  The proper oil must be used to achieve the maximum life for your vehicle.  Viscosity is the term for the resistance to flow.  Think of honey and water.  Honey is much slower at flowing because it has a much higher viscosity than water.  If you live in northern climates you must use a lower viscosity oil because the oil must be able to continue to flow even when the temperatures are very low.  The same oil would not give the desired results in the tropics because it would be “too thin”.  With laughter there are different types as well.  The laughter of children happy and content, the good-natured ribbing between friends, the giggle of a young lady as she talks to a boy she likes, the deep belly laugh as we relive an embarrassing but humorous incident we encountered, the mature laughter of spouses as they recount the perils and pleasures of marriage… the list could go on.

While there are less desirable forms of laughter such as laughing at another person’s expense, there are so many positive benefits of appropriate laughter that is pays to cultivate a healthy sense of humor.  This brings me to the first of the quality traits – clean.  Since the purpose of a lubricant is to keep metal parts that are very close together from touching and creating friction it is important that there not be contaminants that bridge the gap between the parts.  Dirt consists of very small, but very hard particles.  Dirt in oil can easily fill the gap between parts and cause localized friction and damage in parts.  In this way the oil can actually carry damaging material into the places where it is not supposed to be which will actually perpetuate the damage.  This is why we have filters on our lube to remove the contaminants from the oil before it returns into the tight spaces between the metal parts.  In a similar manner I have seen and benefited from laughter that carries away pain, suffering, and stress bit by bit.  If laughter is the oil that sweeps in and carries away pain, suffering, and stress then a filter has to be present to actually capture this “contaminant”.  I have found God more than happy to help in this regard.  His filter is called forgiveness.  I have learned that when the laughter removes some of my pain and carries it through forgiveness it comes back without the sting.

The next trait of oil is that it be cool.  Friction generates heat.  Heat while a natural result of equipment performing its intended function is generally an enemy when it gets too high.  Almost all materials expand as they become hotter.  With very small spaces between parts, high heat can actually cause this small space to close up and friction and damage result.  Oil flowing in the small space actually picks up heat and carries it away.  In our relationships we often work in close quarters with others.  This can be in the office, on the shop floor, or in our marriage and family.  We will not always see everything eye-to-eye.  Stress and heat within relationships is a natural result.  Appropriate humor and laughter is crucial in carrying away this heat and enabling productive relationships to thrive.

The final quality trait of oil is that it be dry.  Now those who know me will immediately think of my attempts at humor that come up rather dry… that is not my point here.  We have already mentioned that oil’s primary function is to prevent metal to metal contact between moving parts.  The viscosity of oil gives it characteristics where it does not flow or get squeezed out of the small space between parts even if there is a good deal of pressure.  However water does not have this capability due to its extremely low viscosity.  It will immediately be displaced or squeezed out as it goes through the very tight space between moving parts.  This allows metal to metal contact and all the negative impacts that come from this.  The metaphor for water in relationships are the unkind, hurtful, or cutting things that are sometimes present.  These can wound quickly and if untended these wounds can fester into something much worse.  Laughter can reduce the pain at the point of impact and it can lessen the amount of injury sustained.  This is similar to an oil’s ability to hold moisture that might be present in solution so that it doesn’t form actual water droplets which can be devastating to an engine.  Laughter can help carry us through some of life’s hardest and most challenging of times without our being crushed.

Although I have seen many try to rely on laughter and a well-developed sense of humor alone to carry them through, this is not enough.  Honesty, courage, patience, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23) are all essential elements in a well-rounded and fruitful life.  Laughter plays a vital role though.  Jesus Himself used humor that is captured in the scriptures more than once.  (I personally love the pun He used in giving Simon the name Peter, which means little rock or pebble and then Upon this Rock, meaning Himself, He would found the church.)  Living with 12 disciples… on-the-road…with minimal showers…with a Judas in the group…with the constant threat from the religious leaders and Roman rulers… Yes a little laughter was probably necessary and I suspect it was rather common.

Have a good chortle, chuckle, guffaw, or giggle today and remember, laughter is the lubricant of life.

Read Full Post »