You’ve probably HEARD it said before, but have you EXPERIENCED laughter as good medicine to what ails you?
As a former member of the Watchtower Society, I have. Proverbs 17:22 came to life for me 6 months after I was disfellowshipped. I began 2005 as a shunned and depressed ExJW, but midway through that same year I slapped on a happy face and went off to vacation at Clown Camp. I’ve since grown into that smile and am joyfully still clowning around.
My mother nurtured the clown in me as a child with her own love for practical jokes. Creativity was welcome in the non-JW home I grew up in and by middle school I was voted “most humorous” and also “most artistic.” Those two attributes were overshadowed by a more serious nature, however, when I stepped into a newly created character called “JW Julie” in 1996 as a baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Even as a faithful JW, however, I could not completely snuff out my true identity and appreciation for a good joke. One night as I entered the Kingdom Hall, a sister asked if I’d be available after the meeting as she had something important to show me. When the meeting ended, she invited me to walk to her car. As she led the way in the parking lot, she was laughing while confessing that I was the only one who could appreciate what she had to share. She could hardly control her giggles as she took a small paper bag from her back seat.
Picture if you will, two well groomed women in skirts
standing in the parking lot of a Kingdom Hall
playing with what Linda had recently discovered
through her grandson.
With each gastric noise, we let out our guffaws.
I was honored that Linda chose me out of all the brothers and sisters
in the Hall to share that moment. She trusted me with her laughter.
It just HAD TO come out.
I’ve often thought how our bodily functions had to be the first form of family entertainment. God did not have to design us this way, but He made it possible for every child (especially boys) to quickly learn the “pull my finger” routine for cheap laughs. Before cell phones and video games we had bodily functions to make us laugh. Think about the human body itself and how many jokes there are about the aging process. Even Abraham fell on his face laughing when God told him the news that he and his aged wife would have children together (Genesis 17:17). What Abraham knew of the human body and it’s limitations in age cracked him up! When was the last time you had an episode of laughter so intense that you fell on your face? Was it with good friends or enemies? The fact that Abraham laughed so heartily indicates to me that he was comfortable with a God of good humor. And when Sarah presented her 100 year old husband with their new born baby Isaac, she declared “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” (Genesis 21:6)
The God of Abraham is also the God of Isaac and Jacob.
Since Isaac’s name literally means “laughter,”
to say I worship the “God of Isaac” is to say
I worship the God of laughter.
So in keeping step with my worship, I joined a local clown club in 2005. I am several different characters, but my mainstay is “Jubilee!” an innocent, childlike redhead with a southern accent. The name came to me through that delightful, easy-to-read book in the Bible called Leviticus. HA HA! But seriously, the idea of a Sabbath presented in that book of the Law appealed to me. I was in my 7th year as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and I was intrigued that Jehovah had provided rest to the animals and even the land itself every 7 years. I kept wondering when my “jubilee” rest would be?
God had heard my prayer for freedom and rest even before I entered the prison and work of the oppressed in the Watchtower. For in the same year I began to study with Jehovah’s Witnesses, a clown face would become a permanent fixture in the wall of my house! As I was becoming increasingly stressed and frustrated with my religion, I met a clown in a pizza place who would eventually become my friend and colleague. So many signs were along the way to remind me who I was. But when the word “silly” ran through me on the night of my disfellowship announcement, God was not only telling me I’d look back upon this one day and laugh, but that I was blessed and innocent according to the origin of that word.
And like Sarah said, those who hear of it will laugh with me. In 2013, I met Sharon at the Witnesses Now for Jesus conference in Pennsylvania. That year she introduced herself much like I would’ve in 2005: slumped over, beaten down by the Watchtower. We became friends and I discovered a very funny lady inside that ExJW exterior. When she came to visit me in Wisconsin for the first time, she said she wanted to clown with me. We did and she was back a few more times to clown around.
But in 2018, I suggested we see Circus World and the Big Top Parade in Baraboo, Wisconsin along our road trip to attend the Witnesses Now for Jesus conference in Bonne Terre, Missouri. I wrote an article about that fun trip from Baraboo to Bonne Terre, but little did we know then that we’d both be IN the parade the next year. Beyond our wildest dreams, we found ourselves dressed as hippy clowns (Moonflower and Sunflower) inside an oversized shopping cart in the Big Top Circus Parade 2019. Sharon said she felt like a celebrity with so many people taking our picture every time the cart stopped. We even met JESUS in front of Just Imagine Toys downtown! The entire 10 day camping trip was one laugh after another.
And as we did last year, the good people at Walnut Hill Bible Church in Baraboo welcomed us to their Sunday service, picnic and baptisms in Devil’s Lake (it’s okay, go ahead and laugh at that irony).
We were leaving Baraboo and on our way to Bonne Terre when I received word of my father’s death. He went peacefully at age 89 and my family encouraged me to continue on with our trip and the funeral would take place upon my return. Sharon was able to attend and provide comfort and laughter among my relatives. In fact, my sister Laurie easily acquired our “Russian Idiot” accent and played along. As friends from Facebook know, Sharon and I are part of an inside joke which began in Canada by another Laurie who is “strong like bull” and wears a funny hat. I guess you’d have to be there. And our camp host in Missouri was! She encountered these two “Russian women” and had this to say about them in her blog….
Everyone let me introduce you to,
Drum roll please 🥁🥁🥁🥁
yes these two use to knock on your door and you would hide,
Some of you still might want to. 😳
Actually these two were the craziest fun gals we’ve met so far. Never did get a serious conversation out of them but it was just fine with me. John was sitting in the golf cart watching the line to dump and get out. Half the time the campers don’t think and block the entrance and exits waiting in like so John has to keep a eye on them. So he’s sitting there and calls me over and says “what the hell is walking towards us”?? I looked up and for a split second I wasn’t sure then they got a little closer……. OMG I thought it’s the X-Witnesses!!!!
Mind you it’s 90 degrees and they are wearing those fur hats! Ohhh and talking like Russians.
Shut up these two are a riot!
They were headed back home and I’m so happy they stopped by!!
I didn’t get a picture of the happy van, but I’m sure there will be one posted in the comments from one of them! Right my favorite clowns?
Seriously you two be safe in this crazy world. Keep spreading peace and love knowing you made a amazing decision and life is good!!!
We really do hope to see you again on this journey and thank you for just being you!!!
Sharon and I both presented our talks at the conference on Friday, July 26. That, by the way, is my birthday. Can you imagine having a room full of Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses sing “Happy Birthday” to you? Now that’s funny in itself! Where did they all learn such a worldly song??!!? Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to be too serious for this year’s topic as I spoke about humor and how it has been so beneficial in my healing from the Watchtower. I invite you now to give it a listen!
The Need for Humor in Our Recovery: https://youtu.be/A39CGC1v4Ls
Keep yourself in God’s love,