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Keep a Sense of Humor

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

We're all familiar enough with the five senses. Almost before children learn to talk, parents start asking, "Where's your nose?" Obediently, they place the tip of their cute little finger on their button nose. "Where are your ears?" (That takes more dexterity.) By the time we've made it through elementary school, we know all about sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. We've gone from the finger-on-the-nose stage to colored charts!

Later on, we might begin to glimpse what has been termed a sixth sense - the kind of intuitive perception that goes beyond the five physical senses, and may not involve them at all. But have you ever thought of your sense of humor as a kind of sixth, or spiritual, sense?

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Humor can often help us get through a difficult experience with grace, especially when the buoyancy and joy stem from an inherent trust in God, the Father of all, who loves and cares for all His creation. The Holy Bible contains the insight that validates such a trusting outlook on life; the history of the Israelites is full of individuals who were delivered from all sorts of difficulties when they turned to God - even when it appeared as though deliverance wasn't possible. And the Bible relates laughter to the Hebrew people's joy over God's deliverance of them. One psalm says: "When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing" (Ps. 126:1, 2).

When you're trusting God with all your heart, you don't have to wait for the moment of deliverance before you laugh. At its best, a sense of humor is a spiritual quality of expectant joy, of conviction that good is all-powerful even when things look grim. You might even think of it as a prophetic sense - because if you can still laugh in times of trouble, you must still believe everything will turn out all right!

At times, our sense of humor can actually save us. I don't think I've ever had to call on mine to save my life, but I do know it has regularly helped in cases of temptation, both big and small. Sometimes, despite some of my best efforts to mess up - to tell a white lie, take something that doesn't belong to me, behave dishonestly - there has been a proverbial banana peel between me and the temptation! Something funny has occurred to turn me around. So I learned long ago to accept my sense of humor as a "sixth sense," a spiritual sense, and to cherish it as very direct and practical proof that God loves me and will always keep me safe.

I remember one time in high school when a large group of my friends hired a bus to take us to a dance some miles away. There was a great deal of talk about "making out" on the way back. I was going to the dance with a guy I hardly knew. And I'd made a commitment to myself that I wouldn't kiss a guy unless I cared for him in a special way - a way I didn't feel about this friend.

Well, we had a great time, laughing and talking. (He had a great sense of humor, as it turned out.) But on the way home in the dark, quiet bus, the atmosphere was loaded. Everyone was making out. He became quieter and quieter. I was sure he was sitting there planning his attack!

I looked out the window and prayed to God, having learned to trust His guidance. I asked God what I should do.

Suddenly, I heard that guy whisper in my ear. I was so startled that I turned abruptly toward him and shouted, "WHAT?!" As I did, our heads knocked, and he fell back, muttering, "Forget it!" Everyone sitting around us laughed. And that was the end of my unwanted romantic tryst. (We went on to be what we'd been meant to be in the first place - just good friends.)

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Since then, my sense of humor has kept me afloat in much rougher waters. In fact, I've had to use it like a life raft several times! Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who started the newspaper you're reading (and who is said to have had a delightful sense of humor, by the way), wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" that "spiritual sense is the discernment of spiritual good" (Pg. 505). Let your unsinkable sense of humor stand as proof that you can always discern spiritual good, no matter what.

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