OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–Because I am a preacher, I tend to think in threes. Normal people have circular thoughts or thoughts that come in ones or twos, or maybe even fours or fives. But any self-respecting Baptist preacher will always think in three points. It just isn’t comfortable to think outside the box.
I want to challenge myself and you to consider three areas that cry out to us from the inner core of our lives. In our loud, busy, hectic, hard-charging world, consider these three areas for the new year: silence, aloneness and laughter.
Shh! Close the door. Sit down and listen to silence. I would propose that in today’s world a moment of silence is deafening. It is hard to imagine a minute without the TV, iPod, radio, telephone or some other device filling the air with noise. Yet, I suggest that the only way we are going to find ground center in our lives is to stop the world, get off and sit in silence. Silence has a way of re-centering our lives. It is certainly one of the only ways one is able to hear the voice of the God. He doesn’t yell, but speaks in a still small voice. The Psalmist had it right when he quoted the Lord, “Be STILL and know that I am God.” I want to practice silence more this year. I invite you to join me in that quest.
I am a totally radical “people person.” I love people. I have no patience with machinery, and no desire to know how it works. I want to spend time with people. I find that, although perhaps a bit challenging, even difficult people are worthy of my time. But I have noticed that when I have no alone time, my life loses balance and rarely finds center. Really, silence and aloneness are kissing cousins. While long periods of aloneness can be damaging, I doubt many of us in this world will ever find ourselves in that danger.
Aloneness gives us time to think. And time to think gives us opportunity for new thoughts, visions and dreams. Aloneness provides time to contemplate our own life, its direction or misdirection, and to process our relationship with the One to Whom we must give account. I need more alone time. My guess is that you do, too. I am committed to finding little slices of time to sit alone with my thoughts and my God. I will be a better person to have done so.
My third and final thought has to do with laughter. I deal with too much serious stuff. Serious stuff impairs your funny bone. I love to laugh. Many things that are designed to make us laugh have off-color connotations. I don’t need that kind of laughter. Laughter comes best out of life experiences. People-watching gives me some of my greatest and most harmless laughs. I think that may be why the TV show that displays moments of clumsiness, awkwardness and just plain stupid acts is such a long-running winner. Solomon is right. Laughter is like good medicine. Most of us need to plan regularly to indulge in a heaping dose of laughter. Life will be better.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.