After my Tuesday morning run on the mountain trail, which made me very happy by the way, it was time to take a shower. The camp where we were staying had one shower facility to be used by everyone (well, one side was for men, the other for women), and since I wasn’t actually attending the workshops (like Cyndi was) I tried to use the facilities during class time so the official attendees would have better access. This time, though, I was looking forward to a new adventure.
The night before, during “silent time,” Cyndi had whispered to me, with roguish delight in her eyes: “I took an outdoor shower; I was butt naked, and there was a man in the shower next to me!” That seemed like the sort of thing I should know more about.
So I decided to investigate the shower arrangements more closely. Sure enough, there was the conventional indoor shower that I’d used the day before, and also an outdoor shower connected through a big glass door. It had a partition on the side toward the lodge shielding the view from conference attendees, and an eight-foot corrugated tin partition separating the men’s side from the women’s. It was impossible to see over or under or around the men-women divider, so I felt better about Cyndi’s earlier confession.
But the third side was open to the mountain and Aspen trees and the whole world. However, since it faced a ravine and a steep wall of tall trees, someone would have to go to a lot of trouble to spy on naked bathers - probably more trouble than an adult was willing to go to. (It would be a problem at a youth camp, though).
Still, while showering outside like that, even with the trees and the ravine, you are still naked and exposed and vulnerable in a way that seldom happens in the outside world. Even so, it was actually much more fun to use than the conventional shower; maybe because of the adventure, or maybe because of the rarity, but also because it felt free and wild. Cyndi and I both enjoyed it so much we continued to use it exclusively during the rest of our stay at the camp. I’ll admit it made me a little nervous to be so exposed in the bright mid-morning, but it was too refreshing to pass up.
I told Cyndi, “It wasn’t being naked that made me nervous, but the fact I don’t look very good naked.” I looked and felt foolish, to tell the truth, and I expect almost everyone else in camp felt the same way about themselves.
And isn’t that the core fear and risk of being vulnerable: looking foolish? I, for one, have spent too much of my life trying to avoid looking foolish. I’ve avoided hard decisions and restrained my passions because I was afraid to look foolish. I was reading Mark Batterson while at the camp, and he was discussing the fear of looking foolish when he wrote, “Self-consciousness isn’t just a curse. It’s part of THE CURSE.” (In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day)
It’s my fear of foolishness that keeps me from entering more road races, keeps me from moving to the front of the leadership line, puts me on the back row in Cyndi’s class, convinces me to keep my wildest hairiest goals private, stops me from improvising on my trombone, frightens me about pushing my writing beyond the safe inner circle, delays my writing more books, keeps me from praying for audacious results like 1,000 books a week, and terrifies me on the dance floor.
Well, back at camp - I don’t know if I would’ve used the outdoor shower if Cyndi hadn’t told me about it. Probably not since I didn’t even know it existed. However, once Cyndi, in all her wild excitement, told me she used it (“It was just me and the Aspens until, swoosh, the men’s shower came on”), I knew I had to give it a try. I wanted to be at least as brave as she was. Cyndi gave me the courage to go outside and risk being foolish. And I loved it.
I know that taking an outdoor shower is not very far along the risk spectrum, it’s really pretty tame, and it certainly isn’t spiritually significant; but overcoming the fear of looking foolish can be very spiritual. How many of God’s blessings do we miss because we are afraid of looking like a fool?
Enough of that; it’s time to change.
So here is my challenge: Do one important “foolish” thing for God this week and see if the blessing isn’t greater than the embarrassment. And write to me about what you did and how it turned out. I don’t want to be the only one exposed to the Aspens.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
To learn about Berry’s books, “Running With God,” go to www.runningwithgodonline.com , or “Retreating With God,” go to www.retreatingwithgod.com ,… Follow Berry on Twitter at @berrysimpson and on Facebook … Contact Berry directly: firstname.lastname@example.org … To post a comment or subscribe to this free journal: www.journalentries.org