“Well, I guess I’m not your only roommate who laughs at you even when you’re doing nothing in particular,” Adrianna said to me last night.
Standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth, I had stepped to my left and reached for the paper towels on the bathroom shelf, so that I could wipe the toothpaste off of my chin. As I was doing this, my roommate Katie walked into the bathroom, looked at me, and burst out laughing. Normally I’m somewhat aware of whatever potentially awkward thing I might have just done, but in this case, I was absolutely clueless.
“What?” I asked. I couldn’t even laugh at myself with her, because I saw nothing even potentially humorous about the situation.
“You’re just–oh, Mikaela, you’re great,” She said, still laughing hysterically.
There is no punch line, or explanation, or resolution to this story. I still have no idea what was so funny, although I would like to think that the humor hinged more on her slap-happy state than on my unintentional comedy.
I’m glad that I’m still managing to make people laugh, even if it is involuntarily, because the truth is, I don’t know if I’ve ever been so exhausted. The second-year students told me earlier in the school year that when snow camp season rolls around, everyone’s true colors–if they haven’t already been revealed through a few months of intense teaching, conviction, and dorm life–start to show. Pretenses and facades are mercilessly destroyed in the overwhelming physical, emotional, and spiritual toil involved in four days of work and classes overlapping with a weekend of nonstop activity, for two months straight.
“That would never be me,” I thought to myself with a delusion-laden, mental shrug of the shoulders. “I can keep it together. How bad could it possibly be?”
Well, bad it is not, but revealing it is.
I never considered myself guilty of faking it through life, but the past few weeks proved to me that I easily deceive myself into thinking that I’m almost entirely genuine, innocent of insincerity or projecting a false image. Layers of my being and attitude, I discovered, had–and have yet–to be pried open and truly revealed by life circumstances and experiences. Although I would love to say that the more I’m scraped away at, the more kindness, selflessness, and humility is exposed, I’m sadly discovering that my flesh and sin run dreadfully deep.
The missionary Amy Carmichael said something like, “A cup brimming over with sweetness cannot spill one drop of bitter water, no matter how suddenly jolted.” I have experienced jolting, and every drop spilled has not been sweet. Exhaustion, hunger, emotions, and challenging situations are no excuse for disobedient, truth-suppressing, unrighteous actions– irritability, gluttony, idolatry, and discontentment; I’m guilty of them all. Sitting in class this morning, I scribbled in my notebook:
I’m a miserable confessor
An ever-sinking debtor
Drowning in the weight
Of ever-clinging shame
So, it hasn’t been my peppiest week.
Reading through the book of Romans a few days ago, I was particularly struck by several verses in chapter seven–“I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,” Paul writes. “But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.”
“Yes, Paul, yes,” I agree in my desperation. “I love the Lord and I love His Word. I do! But every part of my flesh is so entangled in my own selfish desires, and the more I struggle, the more frustrated I become, and the more impossible it seems to obtain any sort of grasp on holiness! The harder I try, the farther I fall.”
I’m slowly learning that the disciplined pursuit of a pure, blameless heart is a miserable, gut-wrenching, pride-shattering process. But, it is a wretched process that drives me to cling to the precious cross of Christ, the very stake of my life, which reminds me that my sin and shame has been perfectly paid for, entirely expunged–cast deeper than the depths of the sea. He has been raised to life, and I have been raised to life in Him. Now He lives through me. God is not glorified through my feeble attempts to be strong, He is glorified when I abide in Him, resting my heart and my soul and my being in the one who created me, and following in obedience.
There is only one week left before spring break, and I’m eager to get back home–mostly for the sake of sleeping, but also because I miss my family and my church and a few friends. My Chick-fil-A uniform is also waiting, along with a fresh schedule full of hours–I’ll soon be back to long days full of “my pleasure”s, sore feet, and milkshake-splattered, chicken and peanut oil-scented clothing. Although I’m sure I’ll groan a bit, part of me is looking forward to the return. Sometimes I revel in the simple, reliable consistency of the monotonous aspects of life. Considering that the monotony of my life can include climbing into a heavy, sweaty cow suit and dancing on the side of the highway for a few hours, I can’t think of much that I have to complain about.