Sunday morning, we recognized all of the babies who were born in 2007, along with their families. (This is an annual event in our church.) As I read the name of each baby, the family came to the front to receive flowers and a copy of our family covenant. It went smoothly for the most part. Well, almost. I did refer to two different children by the wrong gender. (I referred to a boy as a daughter and then I referred to a daughter as a son.) Hmmmm.
After church, one woman, a friend of ours, told me how much she liked that — mistakes and all. She wasn’t the only one who seemed to enjoy the mistakes. I learned a long time ago that the best thing to do is to just laugh. I have also learned that for some reason people often feel closer to me after some kind of mistake. I suspect it is because I seem even more human — like them.
Have you ever known someone who would not laugh at himself? I know a man like this. He is a good man. However, he takes himself very seriously. When he makes a mistake in front of me or someone else, he will not laugh at himself. It becomes an awkward moment. Consequently, many people just do not feel comfortable around the man. It is unfortunate because he has a lot to offer.
I know another person who loves to laugh but he too will not laugh at himself. On one occasion I saw a good friend of his tease him in a lighthearted way. The man immediately attacked his friend with some sort of put-down. Again, it was an awkward moment.
I wonder about the professor, the minister, the mother or father who cannot laugh at themselves. What if they were to simply laugh at their silly mistakes? I suspect that others would feel even more endeared to them. I suspect their friends and colleagues would enjoy knowing that their teacher/preacher/friend is "just like me."
I do know a number of people who laugh at themselves. People love to be in their presence. Can you think of someone like this?
- I think of my friend, a college professor and scholar, who is always saying, "Let’s keep it fun." He not only can be very lighthearted but also very honest about some silly things he has done.
- The other day, a friend of mine told me about hitting a median while driving his car one night. He ruined all four wheels and all four tires. (It was a very large median.) He felt silly but did not hesitate to share that story.
- My friend, who is a stockbroker, is a wonderful storyteller and regularly tells stories about something he did that was hilarious.
- We were at dinner the other night with good friends. He is a wonderful storyteller who enjoys laughing and who does not hesitate to laugh at himself.
I have tried to pay attention to these examples. Many years ago, I was with a couple one evening and witnessed a humiliating moment. In an effort to be funny, this man made a very critical remark about his wife. It was an embarrassing moment for her though she nervously laughed. After witnessing this incident and a few others, I decided that I never wanted to tell a story or make a remark in front of people that could humiliate my wife or children. Consequently, I am careful not to tell stories about silly things they have done. I do tell stories about silly things I have done. (There are plenty!)
Laughing at yourself can be a helpful discipline that can keep you from being overly serious about yourself. It can also be a blessing in relationships. You may find that people will often connect with you because you seem so real and human.
What do you think? Can you recall a time when someone laughed at themselves and you realized just how much you enjoyed that person?