(Proverbs 17:22 NIV)
Once in a blue moon I am funny. Today my moon isn’t blue. I weigh out with that whole dried up bones idea. Which is all the more reason I need humor, the topic for the Inkwell this month.
For many years I read a lot of women’s fiction–deep, penetrating, take it somewhere stuff. And I believe someday I will again. But when the stress levels get high I grab books that have a light heart. There’s something about chuckling through a story that helps me face the difficulties of life. (For my latest favorite light fare series visit this post at GraceReign about Erynn Mangum’s books.) Humor is good cheer for the aching heart, and like the Scripture says, a cheerful heart is good medicine. For that reason alone I believe humor should be an important element in the stories of Christian novels. Obviously not every story lends itself to much humor, but even a serious read can incorporate a wry sort of humor.
There are a few things that make humor an important tool in the hand of a fiction writer. The most obvious is comic relief. During (or after) an intense scene the reader often needs emotional release. One way to provide this is through humor. Think about all the movies you’ve seen where just when the tension reaches what you think will be its climax, something funny happens. You chuckle with the rest of the audience, take a deep breath, and then are off and running with the hero again. Or after all the pain is over, the heroine quips a line that causes you believe all will be well as that wry smile tickles your lips.
Emotional relief is important, but one of best roles for humor in fiction is to help your reader let go of defenses. How many times have you heard a speaker who gets you laughing then (when your heart is wide open to him) says something that hits you between the eyes? You really hear that nugget of truth because the walls around your heart have been penetrated by humor, and you were ready grasp it.
One series that has done this for me is Sister Chicks by Robin Jones Gunn. I spent an evening reading Sister Chicks in Sombreros. I chuckled as I read, and when I closed the books I suddenly realized that within the light-hearted story the Lord (and Robin!) had placed the exact truth I needed that night. It didn’t hit me between the eyes, it just saturated my heart as I chuckled my way through the sweet story.
This blog entry started with a Scripture that shows the importance of cheer, but some days cheer is had to come by. I close this post on humor with this promise for you and for me.