Dr. Chuck Swindoll & ‘Over-Achievers Anonymous’

An article for the August 1997 Deep Cove Crier
I just finished reading ‘Laugh Again’ by the best-selling author and radio communicator, Dr. Chuck Swindoll.  He tells the story of a cute Peanuts cartoon where Lucy says to Snoopy: ‘There are times when you really bug me, but I must admit there are also times when I feel like giving you a big hug.’  Snoopy replies: ‘That’s the way I am...huggable and buggable.’  Chuck’s book gives practical tips on how to take ourselves less seriously, and how to fall more in love with life.  Too many adults, says Chuck, have become so serious and overly responsible that they have lost one of God’s best gifts: a sense of humour.

Recently Dr. Swindoll met a man who told Chuck of his need to work hard at being happier.  He said that he had been reared in an ultraserious home.  "We didn’t talk about our feelings...we worked...Funny thing...in my sixty-plus years I have achieved about everything I dreamed of doing and I have been awarded for it.  My problem is that I don’t know how to have fun and enjoy these things hard work has brought me.  I cannot remember the last time I laughed--I mean really laughed."

As he turned to walk away, he dropped this ‘bomb’: "I suppose I now need to work harder at being happier."  Chuck reached over, took him by the arm, and said: "Trust me on this one- a happy heart is not achieved by hard work and long hours.  If it were, the happiest people on earth would be the workaholics...and I have never met a workaholic whose sense of humour balanced out his intensity."

Dr. Swindoll goes on to talk about the up-side and downside of our drive to achieve.  Jokingly speaking of an ‘elite club’ High Achievers Anonymous,  Chuck spoke compassionately about the high cost that our work addictions play in our primary relationships.  The tragedy is, enough is never enough.  Life becomes reduced to work, tasks, effort, an endless list of shoulds and musts...minus the necessary fun and laughter that keeps everything in perspective.  Chuck says that there is always one telltale sign when pride takes charge of our life: the fun leaves.  Deep within, the overachiever begans to think that life is much too busy, much too serious to waste it on silly things like relaxation and laughter.  Why has our 20th century suffered so terribly from laughless dictators like Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini?  G.K. Chesterton comments: ‘Madmen are always serious; they go mad from lack of humour.’

G.K. Chesterton also commented: "I'm all in favour of laughing. Laughter has something in common in it with the ancient winds of faith and inspiration; it unfreezes pride and unwinds secrecy; it makes men forget themselves in the presence of something greater than themselves; something that they cannot resist."

Dr. Swindoll had a deep fear that if he became ordained, he would have to become ultra-serious and sour-faced.  One day God said to him: "You can faithfully serve Me, but you can still be yourself.  Being my servant doesn't require you to stop laughing."

Laughter is hope's last weapon.  As Dr.Swindoll puts it, only those who are firm in their faith can laugh in the face of tragedy.  A young woman had booked herself into a motel in order to do herself in.  She had endured numerous failed relationships with men and had had several abortions.  She was empty, angry, and could see no reason to go on.  Finally, just before dawn, she reached into her purse and pulled out a loaded pistol.  Trembling, she stuck it into her mouth and closed her eyes.  Suddenly the clock alarm snapped on with the message of new hope from Dr. Swindoll.  Before the thirty-minute broadcast was over, she gave her life to Jesus Christ.  When she phoned Dr. Swindoll's office to share what had happened, she said that she could still taste the cold steel from the gun barrel she had pulled from her mouth.

My prayer for those reading this article is that each of us may discover an unshakable reason to keep on living and an unshakable love of our Creator.

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