Friday, March 23, 2007

For The Too Serious Amongst Us


"Be anxious for nothing..."

Back in the 90's I knew someone at church who was most usually, well, I'll say it--serious. Very serious. I remember him clearly because he was around my age, we had very similar giftings and we worked together on a couple projects. He was critical of himself, and thus, very critical of everyone else (that's usually how it goes). He even opposed great joy in church. Crying was ok, but not laughing. Oh my, no. And everything was a Great Big Deal... all mistakes--his and other peoples'--were, he felt, quite likely to end Life As We Know It.

I have known too many Christians like that. Worse--I have too often been a Christian like that. Fortunately, though, that lady mostly got left in the dust of some long ago path, though once in a blue moon she tries to resurrect herself out of said dust.

Anyway. I'd like to recommend a book which might be of help to any of you who, well, need to relax your white-knuckled grip on your days while trying to control your circumstances and everybody else's, as well--rearranging them so they obey you and appear and feel just right. You know, that impossible job.

Is it a thick, many-chaptered, theological, you'd-better-straighten-up book which you'll find down at your local Christian bookstore?

Uh, no. It's a humorous old book called Mrs. Appleyard's Year.

Mrs. Appleyard, an empty-nester, will tickle even the most serious of you until she makes you smile... or dare I say break out in a rusty laugh? She'll show you that admitting your faults can be fun, even freeing, and she'll help you find the lighter, more balanced side of your daily grind. She'll remind you of what's right about life and you'll find yourself remarking, "Oh! I'd forgotten about those good, simple, happy things, those delights which did not disappear with the 1950's. I'd only thought they had."

And you'll see that, often, it's what we serious folks have forgotten that makes us what we are today--so dreadfully serious that people avoid us, lest they catch our crankiness. Which, incidentally, is the exact opposite of this whole biblical idea of Christiandom.

To give you a taste of Mrs. Appleyard's Year, a for-goodness-sake-lighten-up! book, I'll include a few favorite lines to perhaps oil any rusty smiles...

"As such, she has certain virtues. Mrs. Appleyard uses the brakes on her car instead of the horn. She enjoys praise, but she knows that most praise implies surprise, so if she gets any she is grateful but calm..."

"'I like you as you are,'" Mr. Appleyard added staunchly. The nicest thing about Mrs. Appleyard is Mr. Appleyard."

And about family picnics with her husband and four children:

"...This is the most comfortable kind of picnic--if no one has forgotten the plates. There is something unappetizing about creamed chicken served on a shingle... ... The young Appleyards prefer a place where the easiest way to get into the pool is to be lowered from the falls on a rope.

How did Mrs. Appleyard get involved with these people anyway? Of course, as Sally once said: "Poor Mother, you're not an Appleyard--you're only related to us by marriage!"

A patch of shade is always provided where Mrs. Appleyard can read a good book and not know too much about what is going on... She is happy that she has reached an age when she does not have to pretend to like things she does not like. Mrs. Appleyard admires horses--in color prints. She likes skiing in movies and water in a glass... The voice of a brook running by night is good to sleep by. Mrs. Appleyard wishes no closer contact. She knows how she looks in a bathing suit, for one thing..."


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"There is a time for everything....a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance..." from Ecclesiastes 3

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For another explanation of what I'm trying to say, here's another post I wrote about it back in 2005.

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