Learning to Laugh
Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is learning to laugh.
First, there is nothing funny about a spouse having a chronic or terminal illness. There certainly isn’t anything funny about caring for them and all the nuisances involved with the daily routine.
Over the years I had heard time and time again that opposites attract. My experience would agree with the statement. Many times I have been told I am the least spontaneous person alive.
Maybe my living my life structured like a German railroad schedule or the fact I grew up in a career military family and then was a US Army officer helped influence me in this arena. My wife enjoyed the structure of routine but also loved the unexpected blessings of life. Where I needed a to-do list and schedule for my day and had my day disrupted with change, she embraced the unexpected.
I also am a very stoic person. Again, being a military officer affected me in this area. I believe nearly twenty-years of full-time ministry also had me being the rock of stability in difficult situations. I was the steady influence, the calm in the storm for so many. It allowed me to officiate funerals of friends and even my parents with a dignified seriousness that my wife sometimes hated and caused others to refer to me as a robot-man.
I remember the surgical oncologist kindly encouraging me to lighten up. She said my serious all the time attitude was contagious. My constant seriousness was gloomy and the wrong attitude for my wife to catch. She added attitude is crucial when dealing with a chronic illness like my wife’s cancer. The cheerfulness of mind does good like a medicine for the body. Our attitude contributes to the restoration or preservation of bodily health and vigor. Medical science tells us the red blood cells, most white blood cells, and platelets are produced in the bone marrow, the soft fatty tissue inside bone cavities. Proverbs 17:22 (KJV) teaches, “A poor spirit/attitude ‘drieth the bones’ which produce the needed cells.”
She encouraged me to watch romantic comedies, funny situation comedies, and even some comedy specials with my wife. She said they would get us both laughing. It would help me to lighten my mood. It would help with my wife’s healing.
The medical doctor even questioned if my spirit was broken and if I was totally given over to my wife’s death to cancer. She said it was too early to give up hope. She said those with a more positive attitude live longer. Her little talk helps me recalibrate my thinking and adjust my attitude. Maybe that small change contributed to my spouse’s living almost two years longer than first anticipated. Only God knows if it did.
We can learn a lot if we read our Bible.
Proverbs 17:22 (KJV), “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”
What the Verse Means
Our attitude is crucial when dealing with a chronic illness. The cheerfulness of our mind does good like a medicine for the body. Our opinion contributes to the restoration or preservation of bodily health and vigor.
Pray Using Scripture
- Lord Jesus, help me to enjoy the funny things that happen in life.
- Heavenly Father help me to take life one day at a time.
- God, help me and my family and friends to not dwell on the seriousness of the chronic illness, but rather help us to live life to the fullest as we know you hold the future.
Responding to God’s Hope
- How is your attitude? Do you need an attitude adjustment? If so, God can help. Ask Him.
- Are you remaining affirming and positive in the presence of the one you are charged to care for? Remember, your outlook and attitude are catching. I’m not talking about some false it’s going to be all better attitude but a realistic today is going to be a good day attitude — and I’m going to do my best to make it a good day approach instead of a gloom and doom outlook.
- What can you do to bring joy and laughter today? Is there a favorite movie or comedy series you could watch together?
Photo Source: Pixabay
This blog post is adapted from the forthcoming book, “Hope for the Caregiver: A Biblical Alternative” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.