Sunday, April 10, 2011

Holy Cr*p. A Lesson from 1 John.

 There are four people in my house. There are four bathrooms in my house.

All things being equal, you would think there would never be an issue with having a bathroom to use. You would think....

Let me explain. Bathroom #4 is located downstairs in the basement. No one is allowed to use this bathroom, except my parents, when they're visiting from England. Bathroom #3 is on the main floor. It's a powder room, used primarily by my sons and their friends when they come over to play. Caution... adults, use at your own risk! Bathroom #2 is my en-suite bathroom, but since there is no shower in there, and I prefer showers, I rarely use it. That leaves bathroom #1. It's supposed to be the "little boys" room, but in reality, it's a family bathroom. We all use it. All the time. And during rush hour, it's like Grand Central Station complete with traffic, chaos and line-ups. I call it the #1 John or 1 John.

It seems strange then, that the bathroom would be the place to go for some alone time. 

Somedays I need to escape from the Aspergers in my family. Today was one of those somedays. And since a week long cruise alone in the Bahamas wasn't an option. I went to the bathroom. I went to the bathroom, because no matter what, people will generally leave me alone in there .And I wanted needed to be alone. The "emergency" situation that had been brewing (and believe me when I say that it wasn't a real emergency) would just have to wait. Outside the bathroom.

Once inside, I had a good look around. It was untidy and unclean. On the mirror: toothpaste splashes, water marks, finger prints and my sons hair. On the counter: handprints, toothpaste, lotions, potions (all without lids) soap residue in the sink and my son's hair. On the floor: towels, dust, my sons hair. The toilet? Well, with three guys, it's pretty hit and miss. You get the idea.
One look at 1 John and I had a sinking feeling. The bathroom was such a reflection of the state of my own life. Obviously I wasn't keeping up with the housekeeping. But it wasn't just the housekeeping, I wasn't really keeping up with anything. Aspbergers, parenting, bible study, running, writing, cooking, cleaning. In all these things, even with my very best effort, I was still falling well below average. I felt overwhelmed. I felt like I wanted to cry. Then I heard an audible voice...


"What here?"




"But I don't want to"


"But it's dirty"


So I knelt...on the bathroom floor.

For a long time I was quiet. But then, as I knelt there, in the filth of my (our) own making, something lovely happened. I wanted to cry, but I didn't. Quite the contrary. I started to laugh. Not just a chuckle or a giggle, but a full out, a few decimals louder than what is considered polite or normal, near hysterical laugh. For a long time.

I laughed because I was "purging" myself by laughter in the bathroom
I laughed because I was before the "throne" talking to God
I laughed because our bathroom, the place we go to get clean, is the dirtiest room in the house.
I laughed because I was getting a good inner cleansing in the bathroom. No soap or water required.
I laughed because being below average is an act of humble Christian service. People like me make the above average look so much better.
I laughed because I'll only ever be below average. And I'm cool with that.
I laughed because I was suddenly filled with an uncontrollable, overwhelming joy
I laughed because God just proved He will meet you... anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

I felt clean and refreshed.

"Are you okay" the voice waiting outside inquired?

I got up, unlocked the door and said "Yes, I'm fine"

I was about to give him a hug when he said...

"You didn't flush."

"That's right, I didn't" I said flushing a toilet that I hadn't used.

I went to try and  hug him a second time

"You didn't wash your hands either."


So, I washed my hands, which were already clean.

 I smiled.

I returned to the bathroom a while later, with a note. I posted it on the mirror. I call it my new "scripture." Don't bother looking for it in your bible. It isn't there, because it doesn't exist. It's just my own little reminder. It reads... 1 John (my bathroom) 10:4 (April's date.) "Never forget the cleansing that took place in here."

I won't.

I made a note to leave a bible in the top drawer...just in case. And put my jeans in the laundry. Hot cycle.

I also cleaned the bathroom.

At bedtime, the children saw the note. Thinking it was referring to their (sometimes questionable) hygiene, they worked harder at brushing their teeth before bed. My husband saw it and thought it referred to how I'd cleaned  the bathroom. He left it cleaner than he found it. Guess we all got a little cleansing today. And so did 1 John!


happygirl said...

I LOVE this. I love when God meets you just where you are. Even if it is a dirty bathroom. (thank goodness you weren't at a 7-11) Now I know you deal with some of the same issues I do. Thanks so much for sharing. I really needed this.

Jingle said...

wow, you are talented on so many things, keep it up.

Brian Miller said...

smiles. a holy moment in the bathroom...strange as it may seem i have had them as well...amazing what can happen when you stop for a moment even if it is in the your little note too..

Old Ollie said...

Love it lessons within lessons.

Jen said...

It reminds me of the stories in the old testament when they built altars to help them never forget what God did in those places. Lovely.

Sarah Louise Upjohn said...

I just found you through Emily's blog, I love the way you write! So whimsical and funny, even when talking about hard things. My favorite line here is:
"being below average is an act of humble Christian service. People like me make the above average look so much better."

Christine said...

Wow this was so powerful and refreshing to read for my own sake, and funny too Loved it, Elaine.

Kati patrianoceu said...

Nice sense of irony... and interesting that the irony led to the cleansing!

lori said...

thank you for sharing your personal moment with us. i'm used to the crying cleanses that come. i'd like a laughter cleansing of my own. :)

Lauri said...

I'm visiting from Emily's and am so glad that you linked up! this is exactly what I needed to read today. Your writing completely captured the absurd yet perfect way that God breaks into the everyday to show us Himself.

Joybird said...

The infinitely creative God finding infinitely creative ways to meet us, I love it. And you chose to share the sheer wonder and joy of it with me. Brilliant. Thank you. Soooo, why is one of the bathrooms reserved for your parents who live across the pond?

Elaine said...

Joybird, perhaps I should say that #4 bathroom is reserved for guests (and the only guests I ever have are my parents visiting from England.)
I made this decision, because it's hard to keep 4 bathrooms clean (as my post shows, it's hard to keep even 1 clean) and one time I discovered something unflushed in there that had been there of bounds!

Carrie Burtt said...

Love the message in this have a heart for God....beautiful! :-)

alittlebitograce said...

Your poetry is beautiful, but this piece of prose wows me. Thank you for sharing your heart and your mess and the tale of how God met you. I am praying for continued peace and strength to carry on.

emily wierenga said...

i really enjoyed this prose, dear elaine. this peek into your life, into your heart. i love that you listened to him, that you knelt... beautiful.

Anonymous said...

LOVE this! Thanks for sharing!

BTW, we have 12 in our family - and TWO bathrooms! We are ALWAYS late places - wonder why?!?! :)

Connie@raise your eyes said...


I love the laughter cleansing! GOD often reveals things that make me laugh at myself...He is The GOD of humor! Yahweh Isaac? :)

Rea said...

I love it! And I wonder if you've been peeking into my boys' bathroom and into my life. :)

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