The Virtue of Laughing at Yourself

Sometimes I'm not very good at laughing at myself. Which is unfortunate, since I do some pretty funny dumb stuff. 

But I'm an image-conscious people-pleaser, so I don't like to look dumb. However, I was recently reminded that there is a life-giving ministry and virtue of laughing at yourself.

Don't Let Me Go To IKEA Without Adult Supervision

Two weeks ago I went to IKEA to buy an armchair for my room. I went with a friend and we did the whole IKEA experience (i.e., ate all the meatballs, walked through all the showrooms, pushed carts through the entire marketplace, ordered all the fro-yo, and looked at tons of stuff we didn't need).

And then I bought my chair. It came in a pretty large box, but I was confident I could fit it in my car.

Now, before I went to IKEA, my dad asked, "Are you sure it's going to fit in your car? Because we know people with trucks." But I brushed off his doubts. 

"I'm sure it will," I assured him. "Because even if the box doesn't, I think the chair comes apart and I can just fit the pieces in my trunk."

Fast forward to me pushing my newly-purchased chair across the parking lot to my car. I arrive with a sickening feeling: there is no way the box is going to fit. My dad was right.

At this point, my friend and I think, "Maybe if we put my back seats down, we could fit the box through the trunk!"

There's only one problem: this car is still pretty new to me, and I've never put the seats down before. Both my friend and I think there must be levers inside the back seat, buried in the seats somewhere. So we're both sprawled across my back seat, trying to find them.

It takes us a solid 10 minutes to figure out, wow, there are actually levers in the trunk that do that! Amazing!

But our excitement is short-lived because the box still doesn't fit.

At this point you're wondering why I didn't just take the chair out of the box like I'd said I would. I don't know! You tell me. I blanked, I guess. The thought had just absolutely left my mind. 

So I did the only thing I could: I called my dad. "Heeey, you know how I thought the chair was going to fit in my car? Haha, funny story. It actually doesn't." 

(I should add that IKEA is a solid 45 minutes from our house.)

After asking a few questions, my dad very graciously borrowed my grandparents' SUV and hit the road to come rescue us. Until 5 minutes later when he called to say, "I just want to make sure: you guys did take it out of the box, right?" 


Still on the phone with him, I began ripping the box open to reveal 5 neat, mid-sized pieces that slid easily into my backseat. I swallowed hard.

"Yeah, Dad, wow, you know what, wow, this is crazy. I just realized I think it's actually gonna fit," I said. 

"Are you sure?" he asked, very kindly and without any mockery. "Because I can still come." (My dad is really great.) 

"Nope, we're good." And we were. I had no problem getting home with my chair. 

Sometimes I'm Dumb (And That's Okay)

It was not my brightest moment. Actually, it feels super embarrassing to write about, because (as I've already mentioned), I don't like looking dumb.

But here's the thing: sometimes I am dumb. Sometimes we're all dumb. We all have our moments and situations and emotions that are uncharacteristically foolish. And usually, they're kind of hilarious.

Picture me trying to put my seats down and reaching for imaginary levers for 10 minutes. "Nope, that doesn't work. Nope, there's nothing there." Picture me at the back of an IKEA parking lot, eating frozen yogurt with a giant box next to me while I casually wait for my dad to show up. Picture me holding my phone in one hand while I savagely rip open a giant box with the other hand, being like, "Whoops, lol, the chair actually does fit. Who knew?"

It's funny. And if we can't laugh at our mistakes, we can't really learn from them. 

I'm certainly not endorsing laughing at sin, but I am encouraging laughing at innocent dumbness (if I had a band, that would be our name).

A willingness to laugh at ourselves reflects humility; it strips away the pretense and pressure to perform. It exposes our vulnerabilities in a safe way, inviting others to laugh with us instead of risking them laughing at us. It is honest. It is good. And it's necessary for healthy relationships.

So the next time you do something dumb and innocent, don't retreat in shame or beat yourself up. Instead, laugh. It'll make a good story someday. And who knows? That story could actually provide encouragement and hope to someone else who does dumb stuff but hasn't learned to laugh at it yet.

You could be the one to teach them that virtue.

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