My blogging friend Patchouli asks the question Have you ever heard Jesus laugh?? It got me to thinking about a time in my life when I was grieving the loss of my first wife. Ellen passed away in May of 1994 and her death left me a crushed man. In an effort to protect myself I began erecting a legalistic structure around myself. One of the beams in this structure was an inner vow to wear my wedding ring until the end of the year.. it seemed a reasonable thing to do.. this way I could put that part of my life on hold and not have to deal with this part of my future.
In late June of that year.. just a month after Ellen's passing.. I ran into Ann in midtown Kansas City. We had known each other through work since 1977 but had never once had a convseration longer than a few sentences. This day was different.. we stood there talking for about ten minutes when something leaped inside of me.. it was like my emotions were being raised from the dead - and it scared the living daylights out of me.. and I quickly ended our conversation.
In July I continued to process through my grief.. I hurt like I had never hurt before in my life.. my soul was being ripped in two and I felt like I was dying. In the midst of this agony I hurt the ring finger on my left hand and it began to swell up. In an effort to remove my ring I soaped it up and struggled with it for about 10 minutes until I looked down and saw it lying in the palm of my hand.. it was then that I sensed God laughing.. and I began to laugh along with him.
It was as if God was lovingly telling me to not hide myself behind my rules. Looking back I think that it was an invitation to come out of my legalistic closet.. it was also a message of hope for a future marriage.. which came much quicker than I ever dreamed of when I remarried a year later. After that experience with my ring I began processing those feelings deep in my heart and worked on getting emotionally healthy.. and I began the active process of grieving.
I have said it many times that most of our lives we seem to live out of our heads.. that safe and conservative place of control where we risk little.. but life seems to be wired to drive us to live life from our scary heart. We sometimes find God laughing.. in a loving sense.. when we begin to understand how our rules and principles are impotent to deal with the real issues of pain and suffering. He seems to have designed life to drive us to a place where we can experience life to its fullest when we live it from our hearts.
That is my prayer for us.. to trust more with our heart.. to learn to live from that deep place.. and maybe, when we do, we will be able to laugh our way through life with Him.