“MAKING LIGHT OF THE DARK”
by Rick Jones, Husband of the Minister's Wife
How can I joke about an amputation?
That's a fair question. I've been through a rough experience, and even though losing one toe is relatively minor, that doesn't make it funny. I'd like to share my serious answer to the question, even though serious musings are not really what this column is about. I'm not going to justify this change of tone any further, because  it would take up too much space, and  anyone who has read much of what I've written in the past should expect me to wander from the general path – as I've mentioned before, it's perfectly fine for a hunting dog to leave its original quarry by chasing a rabbit, provided the rabbit has enough meat on it.
Humans are complex beings with many interacting facets. What you eat affects your mood. Moods affect thoughts. Thoughts affect moods. Moods can affect what you choose to eat. Sometimes we let these interactions go unmonitored and that usually leads to trouble. But we have choices. This is obvious when it comes to food choices or whether or not you brush your teeth, but it's also true of thoughts.
I've faced my share of downers in life, and I don't see any value in making bad times worse by focusing on the negative. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” For years, Reader's Digest has published a popular section called “Laughter, the Best Medicine.” Laughing about calamity isn't denial of the situation, but it helps keep things in perspective. What better way to fight the dark times than by making light of them?
This concept is important to me because I have a ongoing struggle with depression. The problem isn't solved by just one response, be it pills, prayer, or prune juice. Medication, religious disciplines, diet, entertainment, friendships and sleep patterns all affect my moods. And that's pretty much true for every person on the planet.
The same applies to how we choose to think about and respond to situations. I don't try to minimize the troubles that come along, but I don't want to magnify them, either. Bad news is part of life, so living in denial of the bad is bad. It puts you out of sync with the universe, never a good situation. But bad things are only part, not all, of life. One way I choose to keep things in perspective is to laugh – not laugh all the time, but to be sure to include humor in my thinking.
Some folks call this a “coping mechanism.” But that label doesn't make it any less valid. You can call sleep a coping mechanism for exhaustion, food a coping mechanism for hunger, umbrellas a coping mechanism for rain. So I joke about an amputated toe . . . and walk away chuckling. If that makes a few people think I'm a bit mentally skewed, so be it. I'll reply with the Waylon Jennings lyric: “I've always been crazy, but it's kept me from going insane.”
Actually, I feel a little sorry for people who “don't get it” when it comes to making light of the darkness. I think they just don't appreciate the value of laughter. Maybe at some point in life they had a humorectomy – that is, their funny bone was surgically removed. I'd rather part with a toe any day.