Monday, February 19, 2018

Laugh it Up!, by Candace Payne

I purchased a copy of Laugh it Up! Embrace Freedom and Experience Defiant Joy, by Candace Payne on a whim. I had recently had a "game changing" conversation with a close friend of mine wherein I confessed that I have a very difficult time expressing deep joy, even when I can feel it. Somehow or another I feel trained to keep a straight face and a dignified look about me and move along with a prim and proper smile. Whether or not this is something that I was trained into (by myself or others?) or influenced into, I really couldn't say. Or is it my natural personality? I'm still asking myself these questions. At any rate, on the heels of this very insightful and interesting conversation, I was standing in a check out line and I saw a copy of this book on the shelf. Hmm. Well . . . what timing! Familiar with "Chewbacca Mom", (yes, I was among the millions who laughed), I figured I would pick this book up and give it a read. What could it hurt?

I opened Laugh it Up! with an open mind and I forced myself to keep it open straight through to the end. From what I can tell online, Payne's writing voice matches her speaking voice very well. This is not the most elegantly written book but it is written from her heart and it is an encouraging read. Payne writes about the pursuit of joy (are you catching the irony here?). It's not a Biblical treatise on the subject. No scriptures are referenced. If you're a theological-treatise lovin' reader this book is going to be a little on the difficult side for you (as it was for me) unless you make yourself read it because you know you need it.

In this book, Candace Payne shares her life story with all of the trials and triumphs combined. She has had moments of intense suffering and a bit of an unstable life from certain perspectives. She shares these parts of her with her reader because she wants the reader to know that despite tragedy and hardship, it is possible for a person to find and know true and abiding joy and to be able to express it so that others might come to know joy as well. (My quibbles rear their ugly head here and I feel compelled to point out that this book was published by Zondervan so it's weak on scriptural references and truths and is pretty vague on the point of where true joy can actually be found.) Payne is a Christian; that much is apparent. But there's not a Gospel message delivered within these pages. It's more of a motivational speech. I've decided to believe that this is okay. (See? I have to tell myself it is ok. I struggle still. I really would have liked a more meaty message but the pep-talk was good.)

Laugh it Up! is probably pure entertainment reading for some people and that is okay too. Some people will pick it up to read simply because it was written by "Chewbacca Mom" and they are curious to know more of her than her laugh (which is quite infectious). Some people will read her because they want to know how sorrow can be turned into joy (and I'm not totally sure that they will find the answer in this book, truth be told). I read it because I know of my black-and-white, legalistic-towards-everything-in-life tendencies and my deep, previously hidden desire to be able to relax and laugh (when something is genuinely funny, mind you, and not just silly). Heh. Dignity! Always dignity!

The truth is: I'm uptight. I don't know all of the reasons why. Perhaps it's the season of life. (Hello, mother-of-five!) Perhaps it's frustrations, or maybe it's just an intensely long To Do List which keeps me mentally preoccupied. It's hard for me to stop and catch my breath sometimes when there is so much to do. One thing that God has been revealing to me over the past few weeks in particular is that I need "silly people" in my life. By that I mean, people who make a regular habit of belly laughs and who aren't so concerned with their public appearance that they can't just relax and have a good time. I need people who maybe aren't so busy to remind me of the good things that can be born out of quiet. I need people around me who don't take everything as seriously as I take things (while still acknowledging that life has its serious moments and things.....we can't just dismiss that fact). I felt like Candace Payne is one of those people. Not that she can be in my life, mind you, but she understands that life is hard and that there is a To Do List and she makes sure she takes the time to find joy in the little things. Hearing her story prompts me to keep exploring and keep looking for God to surprise me and teach me things in ways which I am not currently expecting. He has already begun to do so which is heartening. I have a few stories already over which I can marvel about how He has been preparing the way for me to follow after Him more completely, giving way for all aspects of my personality to be used for His glory and my delight.

Honestly? I have a long way to go.

Some of you will catch this reference but I came home from talking with my friend and I felt like she was Reep and I was Eustace.

And now I feel like this is happening:

And then this will happen:

“Then the lion said — but I don’t know if it spoke — You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was jut the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.  You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place.  It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .”

Personally, I've always been a fan of 'hurting like the billy-oh' when I know there's a plan for change. And believe you me, I KNOW there's a plan for change. So it's good. It's just long and somewhat bewildering and stupefying to me most of the time. But things are coming right for God is working. And as long as He is at work, I have nothing to fear.

This is probably one of my more personal posts because I'm talking about something that isn't resolved yet and I haven't figured out to any degree of certainty. I typically don't like to post things before I've settled on a conclusion but I'm left with little choice in this moment. This post is just where I'm at right now in this exact moment in time. It's what I'm thinking about these days and it is enough (for now). I am curious to see where this is headed. I'm sure it goes much deeper and further than Candace Payne but I'm grateful to hear her encouraging words. They weren't ones I probably would have sought out for myself but they were words I needed to hear all the same. So cheers to random check-out line encounters of the bookish kind! God can use anything He likes, whenever He likes.


Barbara H. said...

An author friend shared with me recently that new or not well-established Christian authors are being encouraged (even by Christian agents) to tone down the Christian content of their work for a better chance at getting published. That may have been the case for this author. Then again, maybe not. But I am glad it ministered to you.

Shonya said...

So. much. good in your review! (How, btw, can you string together such coherent thoughts with all your littles? My brain cells are officially fried!)

I am intrigued by our differences. I used to be MORE externally joyful-silly-gregarious and have mellowed quite a lot through the years.

I love the way God can use whatever He wants to teach and grow u. I think one reason I have such a good relationship with my adult children is because of the silly moments we shared--choosing to find joy in the little things and laugh and be ridiculous. I truthfully find it sad that I am not connecting with my younger set in quite the same silly ways and this post is reminding me to set aside the mental noise that seems to constantly crowd my brain and create more silly memories with them.

Top  blogs