Sunday, August 12, 2012

Days of Laughter

For all the people were weeping. . . . 
 Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, 
and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. 
Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 
(Nehemiah 8:9-10)

It's been birthday-palooza around my house this week. Two of my three kids are born just one day apart in August. (What was I thinking?!) So the past couple of days have been filled with cake and squeals of joy and cake and presents and cake and fun and... well, you know. Cake.

The kids and I have danced and sung silly songs and giggled and had sleepovers and hung out with friends.

In other words, it's pretty much what our lives have been like lately. 

Which begs the question I've been tossing around for a while...

Is it okay to have fun again?

I'm not sure how this grieving process is supposed to go. I've been through so many emotions since my former-pastor-husband walked out nine months ago: Shock. Disbelief. Loneliness. Sadness. I've dug deep into the psalms and smeared the pages of my Bible with my tears. I've woken up from dreaming that he came back to the startling reality that our family will never be the same again. That my life and the lives of my three precious kids have been dramatically changed, permanently seared with the scarlet D, branded a "broken home," forever. 

No matter how desperately I want to make things turn out differently, I can't change what happened.

I'm divorced. Our family has been ripped apart. My marriage is over.

Which brings me back to the question:

Is it okay to have fun?

To be honest, sometimes I feel guilty for having fun. Because I don't want people to think that I'm celebrating the fact that I'm divorced. That I'm somehow happier after he left me. Or, worse, happier because he left me.

But you know what?

I am happy.

(Is that okay?)

I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but in the months since he left, I've actually had a LOT of fun. 

No, not the go-out-and-get-crazy-drunk kind of fun. Seriously, y'all, I grew up Baptist! I've never done the bar scene. In fact, I've never even had a sip of alcohol (unless you count the Nyquil I took once in college and the time I received Communion at an Anglican church.) I mean the clean, giggle-with-your-girlfriends kind of fun. The water-hose-fight-with-your-neighbors-over-the-fence kind of fun. The dance-with-your-kids-like-no-one-is-watching kind of fun.

I've finally felt free to have people over--and my home has been filled with friends and laughter. In fact, several of my friends feel so comfortable here that they just come on in anytime. They've made themselves at home here. There have been times when so many people are here for impromptu dinners or get-togethers that I've lost track of how many adults and kids are in the house at any given time.

I love that.

My girlfriends and I have had a lot of fun together in the past few months. Zip-lining. A "What Not to Wear" party. Cookie exchange and recipe exchange parties. Bible studies. A sleepover with giggles and lots of chocolate. Girls' movie nights. Several girls' nights out. Our neighborhood book club and LCR. A girls' summer camping trip. Just to name a few. :)

The kids and I have fun together too. (They tease me all the time, "You're not a normal mom. But you're a fun mom!") We do all kinds of dorky things. Here are just a few of the silly things we've done this week:

* Asking the kids to tell me about their day, but making them tell me in rhyme. (Miss B: "A funny movie we did see... excuse me, now I have to pee!" Me: "Well, off to the potty you shall go.. before from you the pee does flow!")

* Random dancing to celebrate the completion of my manuscript. (Anyone seen iCarly? We do random dancing quite often to celebrate things around here.)

* Eating cake for breakfast on their birthdays (a tradition I started with the kids a few years ago). And cake for lunch. And oh why not, cake for dinner. After all, you only have one birthday a year, right? :) Enjoy your sugar coma while it lasts, kids.

Want to know some of the other silly things the kids and I do around here?

* We talk to each other in Shakespearean English ("Verily, forsooth! Cometh thou downstairs anon to partake of thine dinner. Posthaste!") or, in honor of the London Olympics, in British ("You jolly well better come down for supper, my poppets, or I'll be gobsmacked! Tally ho!")

* We practice talking in various accents. This is really fun because my children are quite good at accents. (I, however, always manage to sound like an Australian pirate. Which, of course, makes it all the more hilarious.)

* We sing to each other. Not just songs, of course, but we'll have complete conversations set to song. Especially opera--the kids love to do that. You know, you can tell your kids to do pretty much anything (clean your room, go to bed, etc.) in the form of an exaggerated operatic aria, and they'll giggle while they do it.

* We also sing actual songs--a lot. We sing praise songs and movie soundtrack songs and silly songs ("Oh I had a little chicken and she wouldn't lay an egg..."). Lately, the kids have been asking me to sing them to sleep, and I've surprised even myself by how many old hymns I know all the words to. (Granny would be proud.)

* We play cards. And board games. And made-up games. The kids put on plays, and I gush with applause and beg for encores and make them autograph my playbill. We have themed picnic-in-the-living-room-movie nights such as ocean theme (with goldfish crackers and gummy worms and Surf's Up!) and sports theme (hot dogs and nachos and Sandlot). We camp out in the game room. I make pancakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse or their names. We celebrate half-birthdays and half-Christmas. We hang out at the neighborhood pool and take our fishing rods to the catch-and-release pond by our house. The kids have played "restaurant," complete with a hostess seating me and a menu of various entrees for me to select, most of which featured peanut butter and jelly.

In other words, we have FUN.

(Is that okay?)

Don't get me wrong--I'm still going through the post-divorce grieving process. I'm not sure how long this will take--years? A lifetime? There are so many things to grieve, so many missing and broken pieces to sort through, so many dreams that were snatched away. 

I still have many difficult days. A lot of rough places.

And yet... I keep thinking of the psalm I learned as a child that says that weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. I love how it's rendered in The Message:
The nights of crying your eyes out
      give way to days of laughter. 
(Psalm 30:8)

Days of laughter.

So if you see the kids and me out sometime, and we're laughing and having fun or doing something silly, please don't think that we're HAPPY about the circumstances we've experienced.

We're just happy. 

Because as Nehemiah 8:10 says, we're finding that the joy of the Lord is our strength.




  1. Jennifer I am not going through a divorce but something with a child. I do enjoy my family, especially the grandchildren, but am not at the laughter state yet. I gotta get there. Can't hang on to the depression or grieving whichever you want to call it. There is joy in the morning and mourning. It depends on our relationship with Jesus and not our circumstances. I know the joy but want to laugh again. thanks for your post.

  2. Thanks so much, Deborah. I've loved getting to know you through Facebook and have been encouraged by your posts and pictures. You're absolutely right--joy doesn't depend on circumstances but on our trust in the God of our circumstances, now matter how painful or confusing they may be. Thanks for all your encouragement and support as we walk this journey together! Hugs to you, sweet friend!