Sanctification in the Shower (A Thanksgiving Post of Sorts)

I have gotten spoiled.

I hate to admit this, but it's true.

When I visited Mozambique three years ago, I had many of the misconceptions that other Americans have about Africa. I expected everything to be really hard and fairly terrible. I steeled myself to overcome the untold horrors that life here would undoubtedly bring. Then, of course, I got here and found out that a lot of things were much better than I'd expected. There were actually electricity and running water in quite a few places, and I stayed here for two months without contracting some incurable disease. I came home and began informing everyone that Mozambique isn't actually that bad.

I find now that I was my own best convert, and that I've returned to Mozambique with certain expectations.

And this is a place where nearly anything can (and does) happen, and expectation is not always my friend.

So I'm spoiled, and there are certain expectations that I need to overcome.
Like getting anywhere on time. This is a photo taken while we did what we do best...wait for transportation.
There came a day when I had to take a bucket bath. A morning bucket bath, in cold water.

Not a terrible hardship.

But I am not a morning person. When I claw my way out of bed, I expect to do quiet, soothing things that will ease me gently into the day. Things like tea and breakfast and a slow, reflective reading of yesterday's emails. In the interim between getting out from between the sheets and digesting my breakfast toast, my resistance to jarring influences is basically zero.

In my book, bathing in cold water is definitely a jarring influence.

I believe that someone offered to heat the kettle up for me, but I, in the midst of my morning fog, refused the offer.

'Just get it over with quickly'. I decided.

I was about halfway through my ablutions and had reached that stage when the soap and dirt mix together and make a sort of slime on the skin, when I noticed a definite slackening in the water pressure. I realized that I had forgotten to turn on the water pump, and consequently, had used up all of the water. My bath was at a standstill until that pump got plugged in. I regarded my pajamas, flung haphazardly over the sink, and thought, 'surely I don't have to put them on over the soap and go plug it in myself. Surely someone will do it for me.' I called for assistance. No-one answered.

My thoughts, at this point, escalated quickly from mildly annoyed to downright angry. I was frustrated at myself for forgetting to plug the pump in, frustrated that no-one had heard me or thought to check the pump, as I undoubtedly would have done had the circumstances been reversed, angry about cold showers in general and this one in particular.

'Why did I even come to this place?' I raged as I pulled clothes on over my soapy self and tracked out to the kitchen to plug in the pump.

I went back to the bathroom and continued my bath, still inwardly grumbling about my circumstances. In the back of my mind was the knowledge that I shouldn't be indulging this train of thought. Also in the back of my mind was the slowly dawning realization that the water pressure wasn't improving. In fact, it was steadily getting worse.

I knew, I just knew, I was going to have to walk out there again because SOMEONE had probably unplugged the pump in order to use the stove and make BREAKFAST. I called for re-reinforcements (hopelessly, because obviously nobody was listening), and started angrily pulling clothes on again.

"You do realize how terrible you sound right now?" The Holy Spirit asked.

"Yep." I retorted.

"Are you sure that you want to live like this?"

This comment gave me pause. I've seen how miserable life is for the people who look at the world from the perspective of their inward negativity. I thought, 'there's no way I'm going to survive here if I keep thinking like this.'

"Lord," I prayed, "my attitude is really disgusting. Please fix it."

I was halfway to the door when reinforcement, in the form of Jon, arrived outside. I explained my water predicament to him, and he went to the kitchen and fixed the pump plug for me. I sat on the edge of the tub, waiting for the water tank to fill and trying to be more positive.

It wasn't working.

Life, at that moment, looked incredibly bleak to this one, foolish person in a casa de banho in central Mozambique.

And then I turned that little, chrome-plated handle, and water came out. Water. Abundant, high-pressure water. And I could finally rinse off the soap that had dried on my skin.

I think some of the pessimism must have come off with it. 

"Thank You, Lord!" I breathed.

I was so happy to be able to finish my bath that I forgot about the water temperature, the disruption of my morning routine, the inconvenience of wandering about, soapy and soggy, in my pajamas. It wasn't 'til I was pouring the final cup full of water over my hair that I realized what had just happened.

Very little about my circumstances had changed, but my sense of entitlement and my own ideas of what I deserved had shifted. 
And that made all the difference. 

"Well, God, You certainly answered that prayer." I chuckled.

He had allowed me to experience inconvenience in order to remind me that true happiness doesn't come from without, but from within. He nudged me to remember that the only way to maintain a positive attitude is to allow His joy to fill me, and to perceive how He is working 'all things for the good' in every situation.

As I mentioned at the top of this post, I've gotten fairly spoiled. I haven't exercised a spirit of joy as often as I should, and my spiritual muscles have become rather flabby. Remaining thankful in every circumstance is hard work, and I'm not accustomed to it.

But He's getting me back into shape.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing. Your shower experience brings back memories of our time in Guatemala! So happy the Lord brought you to a place of thankfulness. Hope your Thanksgiving Day was wonderful.


Post a Comment

I enjoy hearing what you have to say! You can comment using your Google, LiveJournal, WordPress, TypePad or AIM account. If you don't have any of those, you can simply fill in one or both boxes on the Name/URL option. Feel free to leave me a link to your own blog or website - I'm always looking for more good things to read.