Are You Laughing With Me, Or At Me?

Did you ever do anything just for the fun of it? You know, just to make others laugh, even if it might be at your own expense?

This year on Halloween, I did exactly that. I deliberately dressed for the fun of it. I dressed to make people smile and laugh along with the fun of my outfit. I wore a tam-o’-shanter (that’s a type of beanie, or hat, for those who don’t know) that looks like a large orange pumpkin (including the green stem out the top), black cat earrings and a white sweatshirt with Jack O’ Lanterns and the words “Trick Or Treat” embroidered on it. It’s my traditional Halloween outfit if it’s not a workday, and the only time of year I wear orange. (It’s not a good color on me!)

The shirt usually doesn’t cause much comment. The hat, however, can only be worn by a person who has what my late mother once described as a generous sense of humor and a hearty dose of chutzpaChutzpa is a Yiddish term which means, “shameless audacity, boldness, temerity, cheek, nerve, and guts,” all of which my mother often said described me!

As a business owner, I don’t often get the chance to break out of my professional mold and do crazy stuff. Halloween is a rare chance to get a little goofy, and invite the world along for my slightly crazy ride. I donned my shirt, hat and earrings with pride, and off I went as if I was dressing for just another normal Saturday of errands.

I got my hair cut, ran errands at 4 stores and finished the night with going to dinner and wandering the mall with my husband. Except for when I had to take if off to get my hair styled, the hat stayed firmly planted atop my head, as if there was nothing abnormal about it, and it wasn’t there at all.

I got looks. Did I ever get looks! Fellow shoppers looked at me. Some stared. Others smiled, and a few chuckled. Some commented they liked it. Even other drivers did double-takes as they passed me in parking lots! As I moved through my day, I looked for reactions. Sometimes, I was disappointed. Most of the time, I was not.

Normally, when I go through my day, I try to brighten it for the people I encounter wherever I go. I tell people I like what it says on their shirts, or that the color is flattering to them, or I like their shoes (women get that one a lot), or how much I appreciate their customer service or helpfulness. Wearing the Halloween shirt and hat wasn’t a rebellion against wearing a costume, as much as it was giving in a little to the spirit of the day while doing it in a way that would brighten others’ days as well. While laughing at myself, I encouraged others to laugh at me and with me, making them happier in the process.

In a deeper sense, it’s also good to remember sometimes we are seen as fools and laughed at, not for celebrating an innocent day with the world, but for going against it with our convictions. I Corinthians 4;10 talks about being made fools of for the sake of Christ. In I Corinthians 1:25, it says,

For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

The world often laughs at and mocks what it cannot understand. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is definitely something the world cannot understand! The world is befuddled and bewildered by it and uses mockery and derision as a defense against what it can neither defend against nor explain away. 

As a Christian, I cannot allow the mockery and derision of the world to cause me to falter or fail in my faith. I must always keep in mind that Jesus was hated by the world, too, and He is my example. As He said in John 15:18,

If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.

“Hate” is such a strong word, isn’t it? We almost want to modify it to “Ignore” or “tease” or something more innocuous. But in every translation I checked in English, those words of Jesus Himself are translated to “hate.” It’s because often we have to step up to the harsh reality of the world that completely opposes Jesus and decide on which side we’re going to stand. It’s a choice we all have to settle in our minds and hearts once we are clearly confronted with the salvation message and its truths.

Once we settle where we stand, what the world thinks becomes unimportant to the point of insignificance. Settling where I stood took care of knowing where my place was, who my “Daddy” was, my identity as my Heavenly Father’s daughter and my security of belonging to His family in the Church. Settling issues like these freed me emotionally from needing to desperately belong anywhere else, or with anyone else. Wherever His people are, I am home, due to the acceptance found in the knowledge of who I am in Christ.

And when I settle such deep human needs like those, I am then free to satisfy an impulse to indulge my whimsical side, such as I did this Halloween, with a pumpkin tam-o’-shanter to make people who saw me all day smile and laugh. Because when they were laughing at me, I was laughing right along with them!

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The Pursuit Of Excellence

I’m in pursuit of excellence,

Seeking out the best way,

Seeking to be all I can be

Every single day.

I’m in pursuit of a high mark;

A great calling I want to find,

And take hold of it with both hands;

I want to make it mine.

I’m chasing after a promise

My God gave me one day,

When He said He’d make me like Jesus,

In every single way.

So, I’m in pursuit of excellence,

With all that I can give,

Because excellence to me is Jesus,

And the life He gave me to live.

I want to be more yielding

To His gentle, merciful touch;

I want to be more obedient,

Because I love Him so much.

I want to let Him teach me

The way that I can share

His wonderful life with others,

By showing that I care.

I want to be more in His presence.

When I worship and praise His Name,

Then go out and show the world

His love is ever the same.

So, I’m in pursuit of excellence,

But it’s not a heavy thing,

Because I’ve no fear of punishment

Should I ever fail my King.

My excellent goal is a high one,

But to find it, I don’t have to fuss,

Because when I pursue excellence,

It’s always to be more like Jesus.

TEAM LIFE Faith – A Leading Lady Tells as She Sees It

A recent article by Terri Brady talks about the views the leaders of TEAM LIFE have toward faith in their families.  In Coyotes and Jesus, Terri says,

Chris & Terri Brady

But a few months ago, our pastor here in North Carolina, Stephen Davey, asked a key question that I thought I would bring home to my kids, now 14, 11, 8 and 6. “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being 100% sure: how sure are you of what happens to you if you died today?”

I thought this heaven/hell question would be an easy one for the Brady Bunch in my house. We have read the Bible together, attended church, have sung hymns, and prayed together; but their answers took my pride right to where it should be – in the Lord’s hands. They didn’t know.

I am not here for a theological discussion, but I AM here as a mother who loves the Lord, and wants the same for my children. Do you know the answer to the question, on a scale of 1 to 10? Do your children? Shouldn’t we ask? Their answers that morning were eye opening; I realized I had improvements to make in my most-important job. Feeling tugged in so many directions, I tend to look for perfection, but I know that my children’s answers to that question shook my attention forward. I love to serve at church, business, and in the community, but my priority is teaching my kids the answers to crucial questions in life.

I know for myself, it was the greatest of motherly joys for me to personally lead both of our

Our Family Portrait, 2008

children (now in their adulthood) into their faith in Jesus Christ when they were younger.  That is the goal of a Christian parent, to know their children grow into sharing their faith with faith of their own.  No higher call can be made on a mother than to see this happen for her children.  May it be also for you.

Cathy