The Word of God

Clowning Around

2 characters in mime makeup

The phrase, “no good deed goes unpunished” is normally used to describe situations with more than a slight hint of sarcasm which acts of kindness backfire on those who offer them. In other words, the phrase is a sort of warning to those who, with every good intention and hopeful spirit, are doomed to suffer because of their helpfulness. It basically means that you will, in fact, encounter very mean, and despicable people who could care less about your efforts, motivations, and even goodwill if it only affects them. I bring this up today because recently, I had a Bible client in another state, who apparently lived alone and dreamed of owning a soft leather type cover Bible. Now there was no way we could send him anything like that, because of the expense, but I knew someone who had one on their shelf and would possibly want to part with it.

 Over the next 48 hours, the man who desperately (and I thought sincerely) wanted his own personalized, precious-looking Bible and I immediately began a conversation as to what his “Dream Book” would look like, everything from the color to the large print. He seemed genuinely excited and appreciative that is, of course, until the Bible arrived, which of course I paid for and even the shipping. Five days later, in a one sentence text, he sent the detached, almost hateful message that in no uncertain terms that he didn’t like it, that he didn’t want it, and that he was going to give it away. My response, quickly dispatched for fear of thinking up something sarcastic and mean to write, was summarized in two words, (and not the two words you’re thinking!): “Thanks. Bye.” Although the experience sounds petty, almost sadistic, certainly Neanderthal, something deep went off inside of me. After offering a much-needed prayer of begging for peace in my soul, I painfully realized that I could count on more than one hand the number of times I really try to be nice to certain people with the only result of having my hand slapped away or my motivation or effort disparaged and seen as nothing.

 And this is why I am writing you today, wanting lovingly and hopefully to share with all of you the irony that you and I face every day with people who “don’t get it.” They’re ungrateful, unappreciative, sometimes entitled, very spoiled adults. Recently, a friend of mine who works in another agency with counseling and therapeutic issues as I do, remarked somberly that the percentage of people who carry varying and disturbing levels of arrested development today are much more than we would like to admit. You have grown people acting like crazy and adolescent and deeply immature spoiled children trapped in adult-grown bodies. He offered me a way to really see what is happening in these encounters. He said to take the actual human age and multiply it by .3 and then you will see the emotional age of the person in front of you. And you know it actually works! It just underlies and helps understand the strange irony in life and perhaps lessen the hurt and anger it causes. Remember, this is not personal.

Why are people like that? Why don’t people say thank you? Why is it always about them? And then I remember it’s not about them, it’s about us. In my office there are two people who work in close proximity, and I like to bring them a bottle of water from the somewhat distant kitchen area in our office building. One day another coworker saw me do this and said, “you don’t have to do that for them, they can get it themselves!”  And I looked puzzled at them and said, “I’m not doing it for them. I’m doing this for Jesus.” You see, this is what the Lord expects from all of us, to continually anticipate each other’s needs. Why is that so foreign? And the only answer is that selfishness and arrested development, especially on the spiritual and emotional levels, are out of control. What are we to do?

Right before I began writing this latest blog post for you, my friends and I were watching 80-year-old clips of short movies starring Laurel and Hardy. After some curious research online, I came across an interesting prayer. It’s simply called the Clown’s Prayer, which apparently the comedian Chris Farley carried in his wallet.  And you know it made a lot of sense! I am not suggesting that we should dress up and put little red balls on our nose, and wear big shoes and sport bright paint and all that other business, although I do understand the philosophy of Patch Adams in this regard. Is it possible that we are all clowns for God, not in the way that a circus clown would act, but, aren’t we here to lighten the loads and do what we can to bring happy memories in the spirits of those around us? And I don’t mean please them in a codependent sort of way, but bringing brightness into a cold, dark room seems to be a great spiritual target. Can we possibly leave a place or situation better than we found it? I think so.

Finally, I’d like you to read the Clown’s Prayer now and think about it. If there’s any kind of comment that you can share with our readers, please leave it at the end.    

I want to make God smile, don’t you?

As I stumble through this life,
help me to create more laughter than tears,
dispense more happiness than gloom,
spread more cheer than despair.

Never let me become so indifferent,
that I will fail to see the wonders
in the eyes of a child,
or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged.

Never let me forget that my total effort
is to cheer people, make them happy,
and forget momentarily,
all the unpleasantness in their lives.

And in my final moment,
may I hear You whisper:
“When you made My people smile,
you made Me smile.”

The Clown’s Prayer (Author Unknown) 

Share your thoughts (19 thoughts)

19 thoughts on “Clowning Around”

  • Denise Guerra says:

    This is a great story and I ask myself these questions quite frequently. I think that society as a whole may have learned to be ungrateful, like everything is owed to them. Maybe they never learned gratitude in the first place. A couple of quotes come to mind that fit your questions here:
    “You never know what a person is going through, be kind” and “keep smiling, it’ll make people wonder what you are up to”. Thank you for always brightening my day with these amazing stories!

    • Caro says:

      Thank you once again, Denise, for reflecting with all of us about this all-important issue of gratitude and being kind. When you stop and think about it, the suggestion “to be kind” truly unravels a number of people for all the wrong reasons. It is so true as the Gospel teaches, that “where your heart is, so is your treasure.” Keep being that sushine for others because none of us truly knows what storms are brewing in the lives of those we meet daily.

      • Caro says:

        “If we are asking for the world to be kind, we must first ask what are we doing to add more kindness to the world. If we are asking for the world to be more loving, we must first ask what are we doing to add more love to the world. We are the vessels for the things we seek.”
        — Joél Leon

  • Thank you for sharing with us! I have to believe these experiences are more about us, and how we react to these situations. Do our emotions get the best of us, or do we instead become cognizant of our true selves? Even though experiencing something like this can be like a blow to the stomach or a slap in the face, I pray I will always remember to recognize and remember who I am and who I belong to. Through your sharing, your experience has served as a lesson in faith and life for each of us.

    Thank you for also sharing the beautiful poem. I’m definitely keeping this to serve as a reminder of why I am here.


    • Caro says:

      Thank you as always, Sandy for reflecting with us and all of our readers concerning the life lessons presented in our Inspirational Blog. God bless you and all your family during these days of heat and hope.

      • Caro says:

        “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
        ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Tony Montez says:

    I once had the pleasure of briefly meeting Patch Adams during a meet and greet session. He was in town to speak at a conference. I thought he glanced over at me for a second as I stood in line waiting to shake his hand and say hello. When I stepped up to him and offered a hand shake, he took my hand, looked me in the eye, and asked, “What’s your greatest fear?” I answered, “Eternal damnation in the fiery pits of hell.” We both laughed. He said, “Good answer” and turned his attention to the next person in line. Sometimes we get to share a smile and a laugh along the way. In God’s goodness.

  • Veronica Leal Altamirano says:

    It seems like we get more scenarios of ungrateful people than we do of individuals who are grateful and genuinely feel the love of Jesus. I see it often at grocery stores, shopping experiences, at Church, and even hear it from my children who share their school stories about teachers giving so much and how students are so ungrateful and/or expect it. Yes we may never be shown their gratitude for it, but we also won’t be adding to their not so great moments, too.
    So yes too often we “get let down” by others and sometimes even by our own children, friends, or relatives. It’s in these moments I remind myself to show Jesus anyway, to show His face in my reaction or lack of in some cases. We reap what we sow and I would rather sow love, kindness, and share my happiness even if it’s just a smile on my face or an act of generosity to the people who may not show their gratitude at all. At the end, we may not change their perspective or attitude about the whole situation, but at least we don’t give them a reason to continue to act as they are acting.
    Keep them coming! I really liked the “Clown’s Prayer!”God bless you always!

    • Caro says:

      There is a prayer for every vocation, words that might be spoken as one pursues any good endeavor, that God might bless those efforts toward eternally good ends. Even for the comedian. While there has been a great deal of material published in recent years on faith and work and many sermons and talks given besides, I suspect the need to pair these two in the Christian imagination will not soon fade, and that we will need further reminders that the work of God is undertaken by the whole people of God in the fields, offices, workshops and warehouses of our world.

      • Caro says:

        “More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.” —Roy T. Bennett

  • K. says:

    This blog couldn’t have come at a more necessary time in my life. I wholeheartedly believe the Lord sent this article in my path to help me understand the situation as a whole… you see, the subjects of the story are me and my mother.

    Recently, we had a horrible argument, one where I believed I did no wrong, and she believing she had every right to be angry with me. Growing up, we had many arguments in my adolescence years. But I always came around to apologizing first, even when it wasn’t my fault. As an adult, I stopped fighting back. Instead, I prayed for inner peace and understanding so that I may be able to look at her bigger picture and listen to pains she might be experiencing. Over time, it helped. The fighting stopped, the laughs grew more frequent, hugs were shared more often. It was beautiful. Our relationship flourished. Until recently; I decided to get a tattoo of a butterfly on my leg. She has expressed her disinterest in such things but has only rolled her eyes and shaken her head at my others. This particular one left her furious, crying, and shouting that I was an embarrassment and a disappointment. This hurt me deeply, as I’d only ever acted in life to please my parents. I have my own house, a stable career, I broke my alcohol addiction on my own, and this— this caused her to be disgusted with me. Of course I removed myself from the environment and said nothing. My dad called me and doubled down on her claims, which hurt furthermore. I suddenly felt twelve again, small, and without purpose. I texted my parents a couple times about my sister’s graduation, but I was ignored. I dipped into a depression and felt completely alone. I found myself hiding my body away, wearing pants in the middle of summer. It wasn’t until yesterday that my mother finally reached out. She didn’t apologize, and neither did I, but she did express her love for me and just needed time to gather herself around this person that I am. I found it a convenient time to mention our mother/daughter growth and that I was hoping this wouldn’t be a setback. She asked me to elaborate and I took the opportunity to tell her of the things I’ve accomplished in life but also mentioning hers too, and that these grudges overshadow those victories and blessings and are ultimately not healthy for us. To my surprise (and relief) she did not get defensive or try to fight back. She sighed and expressed why she was upset and it was mostly because she was under much stress over my grandpa’s health and the news of my new ink tipped the scales for her. We ended on a joke and laughed until our bellies hurt. I could hear her smiling over the phone. I kept all her happy memories at the forefront of my mind, and I knew I wanted to hold onto those memories as best I could. I know I upset her, but I was willing to do everything in my power to see her smile again.

    I’ve come to realize that the answer to most of these unfortunate situations can be neutralized with the act of communication. In the past, I worked with three toxic individuals and felt the only way to try and gain control of the situation was to have a talk with each one in an adult and professional manner. Each person did appreciate the talk, however because of their personalities, it was a matter of time until their pettiness and attitudes found their way back into the workplace. I just had to leave to navigate around them with the help of prayer for inner peace with an occasional joke to try and lighten the mood (which almost always worked). I feel as though these workplace struggles prepared me for this moment with my mother. I had practice to remain calm and read between the lines in her anger. I found it wasn’t personal at all.

    Today I’m going to see her for the first time in over a week, and I can’t wait to give her the biggest hug and have the biggest laughs. Thank you for yet another beautiful, thought provoking article. This one was absolutely one of my favorites.

    • Caro says:

      8 Steps to True Forgiveness

      1. Acknowledge the pain.

      Working through pain can only happen once you admit you’ve been hurt. And acknowledging this can intensify the feelings. Tears, feelings of resentment and ruminating thoughts are a good indicator that something’s wrong. Don’t numb yourself or “stuff” the emotion down, as that cuts off the process of forgiving others before it’s even begun.

      2. Think through things.

      Try writing down what happened in a journal, or share with a trusted friend. Admit that what happened makes you feel sad or angry, and be honest about what emotions are rising up in you, even if it epitomizes unforgiveness and you think you shouldn’t feel that way.

      3. Imagine being on the other side.

      Think about a time when you have had to ask for forgiveness; how did it make you feel? When have you wronged another person, and did they extend forgiveness to you, or withhold it? The Bible directs us to do to others what we would have them do to us (Matthew 7:12) and so it can be helpful to put ourselves in their shoes for a moment.

      4. Remember God’s forgiveness

      Learning How to Forgive: 8 Steps to True ForgivenessReminding ourselves of the debt that God forgave us in Christ when we certainly didn’t deserve it, can help us forgive others. If we have been forgiven so much, how then can we hold onto grievances committed against us? This is another step in the process and doesn’t mean that you must be ready at this point to voice your forgiveness to your offender. This may not ever be possible, as the person may no longer be living. You can still forgive someone without that forgiveness being accepted.
      5. Reflect on our Biblical command

      Jesus stressed the importance of forgiving others on many occasions and even included it in the Lord’s prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Pray that this would hit home in your heart and that your decision to obey would force your emotions to catch up.

      6. Let go of the hurt.

      The devil is an expert at getting a foothold when we have made a choice to forgive but the wound is still sensitive. Don’t allow yourself to replay the offense over and over; let go of the pain and determine that you are going to choose to move forward. This is where prayer is essential as on our own we are tempted to wander back to unforgiveness.

      7. Continue to forgive.

      Forgiveness is more than just saying a prayer and moving on. It’s a serious decision that you make over and over again. The process will most likely be uncomfortable and painful, but it will always be worth it in the end.

      8. Pray for the person who hurt you.

      In Matthew 5:44 Jesus commands us “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Ask God to reveal his love to your offender in your heart, and for him to dissolve negative emotions. Is there any more powerful witness of God’s transforming grace than someone who can display true forgiveness to the “unforgivable”?

  • Julie Trevino says:

    Oh how times have changed. Remember when God used to be first. Remember when families would actually honor the Lord’s Day. Remember when manners meant something in both children and adults. Remember how we used to help our neighbors. Yes, times have definitely changed. There are still lots of people who practice and believe in these. It’s called the 10 commandments. Ten simple commandments that God gave us yet so hard for some to follow. It’s hurtful when you do something for someone, out of the kindness of your heart, just to have the door slammed in your face. That has happened to me several times with a certain member of our family. I worked so hard to help someone, to the point of exhaustion, just so someone who helped me for one day was given more thanks and recognition for the help. Hurt and anger is the first thing you feel; but thank God I’m a prayerful person. I then realized I wasn’t doing this for anyone’s thanks or recognition. I was doing this because this is what Jesus wanted me to do. It’s better to get God’s recognition and thanks in Heaven rather than on earth! Amen? Amen!
    I’m still struggling with this person, so please keep me in your prayers. Thank you for sharing this story that we can all relate to. I needed this at this very moment. God bless.

  • Lora Bodine says:

    Just think! I bet the person that your Bible client gave your Bible too, just loved it! I’m sure, the Bible ended up exactly where it was supposed to! Made someone and God, very Happy! Thank you for your story and the poem! Sometimes we just need to be reminded why we are here and what will give Happiness to Jesus, the people around us and ourselves.

    • Caro says:

      You know, Lori, I never stopped to think about that and I believe you are absolutely correct–although I am not going to call my customer back to make sure!!! Thanks for being so positive and encouraging. Let’s keep moving forward in faith!

      • Caro says:

        The good man is free, even if he is a slave. The evil man is a slave, even if he is a king.
        — Saint Augustine, 354-430, Christian theologian & philosopher

  • Margo Shepard says:

    This story could most likely ring true for everyone in one way or another. Wouldn’t it be so nice if everyone could be thankful for everyone and everything that is given to them emotionally and physically? This is what I struggle with on a week to week basis with a human being I will have to deal with for years to come.
    It’s very difficult to try to be a good person when only hate is being thrown back at me in return. BUT when I think about your blog and words “when you made my people smile, you made me smile”, that immediately makes me understand why I need to continue trying instead of throwing hate right back.
    This is a prayer we should ALL carry around with us. Thank you for this reminder!

    • Caro says:

      I am very glad you enjoyed that prayer, Margo. I did too. It really helps put things in proper perspective. I refuse like you to give in to hate or in any way emulate or imitate hateful people. Onwar and upward!

      • Caro says:

        To render good for evil is divine. To render good for good is human. To render evil for evil is brutish. But to render evil for good is devilish!

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