I used to think I could poke fun at people about their foibles. About height, weight, lack of athleticism, mispronounced words, and personal idiosyncrasies. Hey, we’re all big boys, right? We can take it so why not dish it out?
I’ve learned that it’s not true. There are no jokes when it comes to peoples’ bodies, backgrounds, or behaviors.
We’re all damaged in childhood. As soon as we’re born, we’re slapped on the rump, given an unwanted bath and taken away from the warm swimming pool we’ve enjoyed for months. It seems that nobody takes our hunger or our fear as seriously as we do. We cry and all we get is a pacifier stuck in our pie hole.
More seriously, we do get wounds as we grow up. From parents, teachers, siblings, grandparents, and especially from schoolmates, bosses, and coworkers. Comments made about our shape, size, lack of talent, things we mess up on . . . these painful words create raw spots in our hearts. Yes, some of them are said in jest, but there’s always a little thread of truth behind the joke. And when it’s pointed at you, you’ll always remember it. Years later, someone decides it’s more important to get a laugh than to be kind, so the joke comes out and people giggle. But for the person who’s on the end of the joke, there’s a nervous little laugh and a lot of pain.
Yes, water rolls off the duck’s back sometimes, but it depends on the health of the duck and how hard the water is coming at him. It’s the same with people. The response goes unnoticed by the jokester, but when the sting of the joke hits the raw spot of shame deep inside the other person, it hurts.
There are millions of funny things happening all around us every day. Let’s look for them and laugh. But never at the expense of another of God’s children. You never know where they’ve been nor what they’ve been through. So just stop making jokes about people. As my friend Bob says, make sure all your words are true, kind, and necessary.
Scripture: Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)