“We are, in the comics, the last frontier of good, wholesome family humor and entertainment.” Bil Keane
Bil Keane was most known for his newspaper comic The Family Circus. Included in his circle of friends were other wholesomely funny people like author and humorist Erma Bombeck and creator of the Peanuts comic strip Charles M. Schulz. A lot of us associate him with his best-known characters Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
It’s funny when I think about humor, I almost always think about how I felt around two friends I hung around when I was in my late 30s. Both of them were about the age of my mom when I met them. Since my relationship with Mom was strained, I think I looked for someone to “adopt” me.
My husband and I hooked up right off with Sarah when we started attending a new church where our kids (in their early teens) asked to go. As we departed every Sunday after sitting together with Sarah during the service, she always (every single week for two years) said the same thing, “Have a blessed week.”
Everything she said sounded holy like that, which got my head singing “holy like” to the tune of Walker Hayes’ popular song “Fancy Like.” I doubt Sarah would think this was funny.
I tried hard around her to say right and righteous things. I never felt like I measured up, but I wanted to because I thought that’s what she wanted. I ended up frustrated every Sunday (every single week for two years) instead of blessed.
Around the same time, I met Betty. She often read her Bible and told me things I needed to hear from it, things that were practical, life changing, and funny. I never imagined there was anything humorous in that book. She encouraged me to read the words in red (Jesus’ words) when I said I felt overwhelmed by the rest. She modeled loving everyone, lifting up everyone, and letting everyone be exactly who they were.
And sometimes she cussed.
And sometimes I cussed around her, which I seldom did until I met her. Sometimes our cussing made us laugh. The weird thing was, I never felt bad about it or like I was doing anything wrong or unwholesome … unless I thought about Sarah. Not God, but Sarah.
I remember thinking if Sarah heard me, she’d have nothing else to do with me, but not Betty and not Jesus. I thought there was nothing I could do to make the two of them stop loving me. At least, that’s what Betty said.
Best of all was how much Betty and I laughed together. I’d get on the phone crying so hard she couldn’t understand me, then get off laughing so hard I’d be in tears.
Now that Sarah and Betty are gone, I often think about their legacies.
I still hear Betty’s holy advice, feel her holy example of Love, and miss her laughter so, so much. I think about how comfortable and loved I felt around her and how sitting at her feet and learning must have been how it felt to sit at Jesus’ feet. Even though she swore sometimes, being in her home felt like stepping into The Andy Griffith Show – genuine, caring, and filled with laughter.
I appreciate putting aside trying hard and lightening up with Jesus, and laughing. Just for the record, I hardly ever cuss anymore, but when I do, I think about Betty and how she would have laughed.
In This Together,
FYI: I’m blogging my book titled On The Other Side of Trying Hard: Healing, Happiness, and Holiness. Because the blog posts will eventually be an entire manuscript instead of stand-alone stories, some posts may leave you hanging. I hope you’ll hang in here with us anyway ‘cause a happy ending is coming. Each blog post title includes the chapter title first. The phrase in parentheses is one subheading within the chapter. I’d love to hear your reflections, questions, and suggestions. I’m over-the-top grateful you’re here.