Do you remember Debbie Downer, the SNL character famously played by Rachel Dratch? Debbie had a knack for dropping depressing comments while hanging out with her friends.
When someone says, “Happy New Year!” Debbie might add, “One year closer to death.” At “Happy Mother’s Day!” Debbie might share, “Did you know that 91% of nursing homes lack adequate staff to properly care for their patients?”
Debbie first appeared the night Lindsay Lohan hosted the show. Ready for a great time at Disney World, Debbie’s friends (played by Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler, Keenan Thompson, and others) weren’t ready for the drooping sad trombone “wah-wah” sound which followed each of Debbie’s miserable comments, nor the deadpan expressions on Debbie’s face, and fought back tears of laughter the whole sketch. My favorite moment was when Debbie randomly announced, “By the way, it’s official. I can’t have children” and Jimmy Fallon buried his head in his hands. Good times.
Reminds me of what CS Lewis described when he said, “The sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal.”
Laughter with friends is the gift of the Energizer.
The Gift of a Fun Friend
All of our friends should be fun. That’s what friends are for. Of course, we all carry heavy loads so we can’t be in a fun mood all the time. But Energizers kind of are. Whether due to a quirky personality or early childhood and well-honed coping mechanism, Energizers seem to see the humor in things. As my mentor Kevin Huggins once said, “If you don’t laugh, you cry.”
For Debbie, the glass wasn’t half empty. It got knocked over, rolled off the table, and shattered into 1,000 pieces. She brought a bucket of cold water to pour over every joyful moment. But that’s not how Energizers roll. They see the glass as full and they carry around a pitcher to top yours off. And you look forward to getting together with them so you can relax, have a good time, and laugh.
Energizers aren’t necessarily clowns or the life-of-the-party at every moment. It’s more an outlook on life than a personality type, I think. Tom Rath says, “Energizers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are outgoing…while others quietly energize you.” Les Avery would describe the magic of an Energizer as the ability to “bring the light touch.”
Can you see an Energizer or two in your life?
The Sacrament of a Joyful Moment
In times like these, we can really use an Energizer.
We’ve all been through so much that we need to lighten up whenever we can. I think there’s something holy about an enjoyable evening free of duty and responsibility. Servant leaders especially need moments when they don’t have to attend to others or fix what’s wrong with the world. We all need permission to place our failures, headaches, and heartaches on the back burner and allow the goodness and grace of God to take center stage. This is illustrated by what Nehemiah said to his people:
“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Good soul care calls us to see the sacredness in everything. Not just the bread and cup of the Eucharist, but our common meals, or a cup of coffee as we catch up with a friend — all are gifts from God, joys to be savored.
Three hundred years ago, Jean-Pierre de Caussade wrote of “The Sacrament of the Present Moment.” With an Energizer friend, you can celebrate the Sacrament of a Joyful Moment.
See the Energizer, Be the Energizer
I hope some friends are coming to mind for you. I hope you have eyes to see how your brother brings that moment of silly escape, how your sister shares a humorous meme or your best friend at work shares that well-timed word. Enjoy those moments and give yourself permission to see the humor in things.
As Thanksgiving approaches, thank God for all your Vital Friends. The Champion, the Companion, the Connector, and others — rejoice in them all. And don’t forget the friends who make you smile
For your part, be you. You don’t need to be funny to be a good friend. Just be your best self as often as you can. And since the fruit of the Spirit is joy, ask him to produce that fruit in you. Whenever you can share gladness to brighten your world, it’s a good thing.
1. Who lifts your spirits? (Find a way to make sure they know what that means to you)
2. Are you gifted at doing so for others? (Ask the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of joy for you to share)
3. Think of the Sacrament of a joyful moment. (Stop and savor that memory now)