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A Terrible Day Ends with a Fart Story

If you haven’t been totally put off by the title of this, I hope you’ll keep reading. There is a point!

Last week, my wife was out of town, which left me alone with our four children and two exchange students that we’ve taken in for the year. Three of these are teenage boys so I was doing a lot of food preparation and clean up. On top of the added duties of temporary single parenthood, four of these kids had science fair projects due on the Monday after my wife got back late Sunday night (where I also had to pick her up).

Did I mention that two of these kids have a degree of special needs and required a lot of extra help on their projects?

I was faring pretty well through most of the week, and the kids were helping pick up some of the slack. But by Thursday night, I felt tired and overwhelmed. I had tried helping one study for a test and another with their project. I knew I had to make arrangements for kids over the weekend and prepare a sermon I had volunteered for.

I texted my wife that I was done. I couldn’t handle it. I wanted to pull the blankets over my head and give up.

I realize this may not sound like that big a deal, but in the moment it felt like a boulder sitting on top of me. I wanted to wallow and check out, at least until my wife got back. Later in the evening, my wife texted she had helped by making some arrangements for kids that weekend that I was fretting about, and I went to Pinterest and decided to find something humorous.

Super spiritual, right?

Well, through the comment section of one slightly humorous post, I found another post that completely changed my night. Turns out, it’s a humor site for women, but nobody chased me away so I went ahead and read this: The Fart that (Almost) Altered My Destiny (disclaimer: I only read this one story. I have no idea about the rest of the content on this site).

laughI was laughing so hard I was crying. I had to stop several times through because I couldn’t see through my fits of laughter and watery eyes. When I got to the end, I went back and read, what were to me, the funniest parts and laughed just as hard.

I’m not over-exaggerating when I say, my night changed from that point. I felt lighter and free. I felt like I could somehow do all I needed to (and yes, we did complete all our projects on time and preached that sermon on Sunday).

That’s a minor example, of course. Margaret Feinberg writes in her book, Fight Back with Joy, about being diagnosed with breast cancer. It seems a little obscene to compare my bad day with the enormity of that disease, but at the same point, I don’t think God minds.

The point is the same, you can either have joy as a concept or you can experience it. To embrace defeat, oppression, hopelessness, and the like is not spiritual (not spiritually wise anyway). In fact, it’s not how God created you to respond. He intends joy to be in your life in those hard times and for it to be a weapon against those other things that want to rule you.

When we fight back with joy, we no longer size the character of God according to our circumstances, but we size our circumstances according to the character of God and His great affection for us. –Fight Back with Joy

In Margaret’s case, God orchestrated her to be with family who could laugh, joke, and convey normalcy. It didn’t mean she didn’t have tears (with her and family members), but there was a greater sense of joy. For me, God orchestrated an internet fart story. Wow, the Lord works in mysterious ways.

Now, I’m not pretending that my bad day was the worst thing that’s happened to me, not by a long shot. But at the same time, it was a recent experience that illustrated that sometimes joy comes in unexpected ways and through unexpected means, but it’s joy nonetheless.

It may feel like frivolity, but God can use it.

It’s not just the laughter, but the breaking through the haze into a greater clarity. Toward the end of the chapter, Margaret shared this,

You are founded in joy, created for joy, and destined for joy. Joy is where you come from. Joy is what you are created to experience. Joy is where you are headed.

That’s a lot bigger than a nice feeling or trying to pretend negative things aren’t happening. It’s a beautiful way to live–truly live.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced joy in some *ahem* unexpected ways?

fbwj-buttonWelcome to week 2 of our discussion of Fight Back with Joy (disclosure) by Margaret Feinberg.We are taking a sentence, paragraph, or passage that inspires, encourages, or challenges and writing about it. If you have a response on your blog, add the link to the widget below. Either way, head over to my friend and co-facilitator, Sarah Salter’s blog for her thoughts.

Whether you’ve read the chapter or not, please dive into the conversation!

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  1. Timely post for me, Jason… uhhh, not food related… Stressful days steal the joy and hope of one of our greatest gifts; free will. It is our choice how we respond. Especially for those of us that have the promise of food, shelter, and clothing! We don’t have to worry as much as the birds of the air or the flowers of the fields! When I think about it like that it brings me to a place of, well, joy… Thanks, my friend.

  2. OK, you kinda had me at “f_ _ t” (trying to be a little lady-like!) I went over and read that, and you’re right, it was hysterical!! I had a very similar incident with a guy. Also had a severe attack of altitude sickness on a camping trip -- think upchucking -- same guy. And a couple of other really embarrassing things that I’m not even going to mention -- same guy. Can you blame him for marrying me??? I think it was my great love for hockey that won him over.

    I needed this laugh tonight. I had a good one earlier today, too. My sons and their dad put together a video for a client of theirs a few months ago. Their dad did the voice-over. Well, tonight they shared the bloopers. Oh my gosh, we laughed so hard!! And you’re right, it felt really good.

    Sometimes I try to remember that Jesus wasn’t always serious. I just know that He must have smiled a lot, and had a good belly laugh, too, from time to time. Sometimes just thinking about that makes me smile.

    And the thought of seeing His smile face-to-face someday? Well, that spells JOY to me!!

    My tummy muscles are sore -- too much frivolity today!!

    Sharon recently posted..I’M SORTA MAD AT GODMy Profile

    • That is awesome, Sharon! There’s an opportunity to make joy and laughter a part of our everyday life. He’s just so good to us! Thanks for not running away at my sense of humor. 🙂 I was really hoping not to offend anyone! Thanks so much.

    • Sharon, I just love the thought of sitting across from Jesus and seeing his smiling face. Brings joys to my heart. Thank you for putting that image in my head today!
      Margaret Feinberg recently posted..What To Do When You’ve Got An Achy Breaky Heart With GodMy Profile

  3. Those are great quotes about joy. I can’t wait to start reading this book.

    God has blessed me with a spouse who has a very dry sense of humor…which cracks me up. It’s amazing how he can get me to laughing when moments before I felt like giving up and/or crying.

    God’s great at giving us stress relief and often in some strange ways.

    • This chapter was so excellent. So many good points and thoughts! I felt the joy in the words, that Margaret had experienced this and not simply wrote about joy. Anyway, definitely read it!

      And I seem to be about 50-50 with my wife on making her laugh. That’s my go-to to cut tension, but sometimes it’s more effective than others. 🙂 Thanks TC!

      • Others tend to not get my husband’s humor but it’s perfect for me 🙂

    • TC, I can’t wait to hear what you think of Fight Back With Joy!
      Margaret Feinberg recently posted..What To Do When You’ve Got An Achy Breaky Heart With GodMy Profile

      • I’m looking forward to starting it soon! It sounds really great.
        God bless.

  4. I read it earlier and got waylaid. I have shared that story with my youth pastor and secretary (who has a husband and 2 sons) and she was laughing hysterically. Her abs hurt she said. Made her day. We need to laugh. It is good medicine and I firmly believe a gift from God.
    Bill (cycelguy) recently posted..CostMy Profile

  5. I can’t even begin to tell you all the times we’ve shared humor to get through difficult circumstances. We’ve gotten odd looks as we giggled in pre-op or doctor’s waiting rooms. I’ve read that story and found it hysterical. So glad it turned around your evening and I’m sending you a pat on the back for doing double duty. Those days of single parenting are exhausting. Rev used to travel tons for work and all I can say is -- whew! Blessings!
    Deb Wolf recently posted..Conversation Hearts From Heaven that Changed My LifeMy Profile

    • That’s great, Deb! And thank you. It was rough at various points, but God is so good and grace is sufficient. So thankful it was only a week and not longer! 🙂

    • Laughter is a great way to Fight Back With Joy, Deb! So glad you’ve found this as well.
      Margaret Feinberg recently posted..What To Do When You’ve Got An Achy Breaky Heart With GodMy Profile

  6. Since I have a husband who travels frequently for work, I understand what you went through, my friend. Though, I only have 2 teenage boys 🙂 Anyway, the times we spend laughing and being silly together (even now that they’re older) are such joy-filled times that truly do refuel me. We had a conversation the other night that filled me with such joy even though it’s not one I can write about. The joy came from the silliness and the connectedness as a family. I tend to be too serious too often, and my boys as well as my husband, really help me to relax a bit and discover joy more. I am very thankful for that.

    • Isn’t God good to give us the people in our lives we need? You’re serious and need levity at times and I’m sure the reverse is true for them. He sets the lonely in families… Thank you, Kari!

    • Love that, Kari! Gotta love and be grateful for family.
      Margaret Feinberg recently posted..What To Do When You’ve Got An Achy Breaky Heart With GodMy Profile

  7. Jason, this story! I love it! And so glad you made it through the week. What a great example of how to Fight Back With Joy.
    Margaret Feinberg recently posted..What To Do When You’ve Got An Achy Breaky Heart With GodMy Profile

    • I was seriously hoping this wouldn’t be offensive to anyone and especially you. 🙂 God’s grace is so diverse and wonderful. I’m learning not to limit Him in that way! Thanks so much, Margaret.

  8. Jason, it reminds me of a story about mid-twentieth century Christian mystic, Rufus Moseley. Some religious gentleman heard Moseley laughing with friends and said, “Brother Rufus, do you really believe God intends us all to laugh like that?” And Rufus said, “Well, I know that He made me so that I can.” Sometimes, laughter really is the best medicine!
    Sarah Salter recently posted..Finding My Way on the Road to ComfortMy Profile

    • I love that! So true. He liberates and sets free. He gives joy in every meaning of that word. He’s so good! Thanks Sarah.

  9. It’s funny, no pun intended, that I don’t like satire but have what I call “bathroom humor.” Someone from the church we once attended posted that online and I laughed myself silly. Not great for the pinched nerve in my neck but I still think my body, mind and spirit thanked me.

    I also keep a gratitude journal using an app on my tablet. It keeps me grounded and searching for little things to find joy in. They are there all around us. It helps me to keep from focusing too much inwardly.

    I’m sorry that I didn’t know you were doing this study earlier. I love this book. I was so in need of it. I’m glad you are finding it helpful, too.
    Melinda Lancaster recently posted..By Your Side: A ReviewMy Profile

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