“Be a Joyful People”

31 01 2011

BY KRIS JUDD, president of seventy

I’ve had a long history of getting into trouble for laughing. I laugh too loud. I laugh too much. I laugh at the wrong times and in the wrong places.

I learned early on if you dig your fingernails into your palms you can keep yourself from getting sent from the dinner table for laughing. Telling people you are just thinking funny thoughts can stop the endless questioning of what you are laughing about during a meeting.

There are times when I get dirty looks in restaurants. As college students my friend, Nancy, and I once were asked to leave a truck stop because our laughter was disturbing the truck drivers. Laughter can get one into trouble.

Laughing in church is not always appreciated, nor is it in the Temple. How ironic, considering our mission statement not only proclaims Jesus Christ but promotes communities of joy, hope, love, and peace. While joy can be a silent experience, like that inner glow you feel in encountering the Holy, it also can erupt in giggles, guffaws, and laughter that flows like light into dark places. Laughter can heal.

Recently, I had the privilege of sharing a weekend with 100 women at a retreat in eastern Canada. The weekend theme was “Dancing in the Son-shine.” While I had a focus to my class, I had no idea what the Holy Spirit really had in mind for our time together.

Using a portion of Psalm 149 we focused on the spiritual practices of gratitude, joy, and play. We used scripture, storytelling, and prayer to guide us, but it was the laughter that healed us. As we became more transparent, sharing our flaws and weaknesses, we empowered others to become freer. The more freedom we felt, the lighter we became, and the more we laughed. Burdens lifted. And though circumstances did not change, perspectives did.

We sing of laughter’s healing art and read scripture.

Walk proudly and with a quickened step. Be a joyful people. Laugh and play and sing, embodying the hope and freedom of the gospel.—Doctrine and Covenants 161:1b

The gospel is good news, and joy is a natural expression of our living as beloved, forgiven, and free children of God.

So laugh. Laugh loudly. It makes people wonder what you know that they don’t know. And if they ask, tell them.



5 responses

1 02 2011
Diana Hansen

I, too, am a loud and frequent laugher! Thank you for sharing, Kris!

1 02 2011

I was at the retreat and many came with heavy, heavy burdens. The ladies spirits were lifted and healing took place. The effects of the weekend are still being felt. Thank you Kris for sharing and I hope that many more people will be blessed as they take time to laugh. Laughter is so good for the soul.

Kris, please continue to share your storie,s as we all need a pick me up.

31 01 2011
Gil Porter

Keep it up and accelerate it Kris – we need to hear it more often!!

31 01 2011
William L. Raiser

Good to read your joyous testimony, Kris. (Been a while) We also need to explore the depths of joy in the Kingdom. All levels important.

31 01 2011
Crusty the Christian

Thank you Kris for your insightful thoughts. My experience with laughter lies in response to when the dumb things I do blow up in my face. In my imagination I can picture God having a good laugh. And when I hear him saying, “Gary, didn’t I tell you not to do dumb things?” I break out in laughter myself. And sometimes that happens when I least expect it. Thanks again for reminding me that a life blessed with humor is a blessed life indeed!

Grace and PEACE,