Some of you know me to be terrifically witty and hilarious. But in the beginning, it was not so.
Even still, you bring me to a Gilligan family gathering and I'm the one who sits there quietly and laughs at everyone else's jokes (and it's not because I turn off my humor quotient; they're just that much more hilarious than I am, in comparison). When I was a little girl, one of the things I most longed to be (besides not white) was funny.
I can still specifically remember the first time someone acknowledged me as funny (in early high school). Gradually, I came to realize that it was okay to recycle my dad's and grandfather's jokes in a new audience, and from that eventually developed a sense of humor all my own. I became used to making people laugh, and delighted in it!
This continued into college. The famed "Ann Arbor Eight," who constituted my immediate group of best friends, included many hilarious, philosophically inclined men, and I thoroughly enjoyed throwing my two cents into their conversations (and was especially proud when I could hold my own).
But I grew more into myself over time, which (in my case) meant drawing back in and becoming a bit more introverted. By the end of college, when the same guy banter came up, I was equally pleased to join in, to sit and listen and laugh, or to leave and chat with the girls.
So it wasn't a huge transition when I came to grad school at a seminary and found myself mostly just laughing at everyone's jokes, and rarely making my own. At first I thought this was a transition and comfortability thing, but I am very comfortable here now, and yet most of what I do is still to just laugh.
This makes sense to me: As it took me a long time to believe I was actually funny, so it's taking me a long time to believe that my presence can be appreciated when all I contribute to a conversation is laughter.
I'd begun to realize this now that Michael is graduated and moved to the area - see, his girlfriend Gina doesn't find him funny at all, whereas he barely has to wave hello and I laugh. When I'm around (read: when he has a heartily laughing audience again), it's visibly the-opposite-of-demoralizing for him, and he appreciates it.
Seriously? Who doesn't love a good-natured person who will laugh at ALL their jokes, and not out of pity but because she legitimately thought they were funny? How silly that it's taken me so long to realize!
I think it's finally sinking in, though. As I chuckled through lunch yesterday, Denis declared, "I'm glad you're here to laugh at my quirks." And that's when it hit me: My laughter is a contributing to the conversation! I don't have to be a major player; I don't have to throw out incredible insights or hilarious quips and puns. Somebody has to be the audience, and that's no less essential to an enjoyable chat.
I like this whole finding yourself in Christ bit. The me He has in His mind is way more relaxing and awesome than the me I've tried to create for myself.
Iesu, mitis et humilis Corde, fac cor nostrum secundum Cor tuum.