Hygiene is a Discipline [a.k.a. some lovely girls don’t shower… that often.]

I’ll be honest. If it wasn’t for all of you clean people with your perfectly coiffed hair, well-scrubbed acne-free skin, and lofty standards of hygiene, I might never shower.

This week, I had to quite literally drag my hinny out of bed. Sidebar: I just found out through the wonderful world of Wikipedia that a hinny is actually a hybrid of a stallion and a jenny (female) donkey. So yes, when I say my hinny, I’m talking about my [@*$- coughs/mumbles]. You’re welcome for that.

No, but really. I did. I had to drag my hinny out of bed to go to the shower. And I had to smile as I lathered up my hair and the hot water and steam rose around me because as my brain became less foggy, I remembered a few years ago when I stumbled across my old kindergarten report cards (thanks, mom). And in so many ways, I’m still that little girl – the one who wants to do well and get all her boxes and “outstanding”s checked off and graded, but I neglect certain areas of responsibility in order to run off and play. Or I would stay in at recess to finish that drawing, and now zone out of the social world in order to check my email and press through that extra load of work. My little preschool or kindergarten report card actually sums me up quite well – high performance and a certain level of neglect. It actually read, “outstanding, outstanding, outstanding” until your eyes travel to the hygiene section which read, “could use improvement.”

!! [insert shocked face]

I might have even been the stinky kid! Except that my mom and dad loved me enough to make me shower and brush my teeth and learn how to wipe that hinny.

Guys, really, there is a reality to the fact that if I could hole myself up in my house, I might be quite happy in my pig sty, writing blog posts, getting sucked into the vortex of social media, eating delicious meals, snuggling with Brooklyn, and checking off to-do lists that have nothing to do with cleaning. But, there are certain moments in your life when you realize things need to change. Like when you decide to go for a summer of college without deodorant, you know, just to see if you can, and your boyfriend Brian kindly tells you one day when your arm lifts above your head that perhaps you should attend to that smell. Or when your feet have been neatly tucked away in your shoes all day, and it’s not ’til the end of the day that you pull your feet out of those sweatshops that we call “flats,” and an odiferous aroma fills the room. Or when you have to have that conversation with your sixth grade students every spring that, “You know, guys, I love you, but we as a group…. we don’t smell great.” And talks of deodorant and showers and brushing teeth happens. Every year.

I would like to think that I’m above it all, the common disciplines that make me human. I’d like to think that I could go for a week without showering, several nights (or even one!) without sleeping, a marathon of work without breaks, a lifetime of slovenly eating without exercising, a year or month or even a week (heck, for me a day!) without reading God’s Word, but it’s not true. I am human. I do need discipline. I do need the simple fact that the society circles I generally run in dictate cleanliness, sanity, being fit, and hard work. And none of these things are bad. I need them. In fact, in many ways, all of these things contribute to my well-being as a person. However, the question I want to ask this morning is, what is it in your life that you give up in order to do what you feel needs to be done? What discipline or which disciplineS do you forgo in order to run out to recess or slave over that last spreadsheet or get that bonus hour of TV? I know my own vices. I work hard, and I play hard. But I don’t usually do them both well. I go, go, go, go, go, and burn myself into exhaustion, or I crash. Then, I’m on the couch staring like a zombie at my phone or TV screen (or at nothing), my hand shoved absently into a cereal box, and my disheveled life neglected around me.  Finding the balance is very hard for me.

But what is it for you? Which disciplines do you neglect? For some habits enslave us while others make us whole. At times, even writing for me (which generally brings me great GREAT life and joy) feels like a chore. And I have to drag my hinny out of whatever funk I’m in to just type some words onto a screen so that catharsis begins. Healing begins.

Showering, staring at the sky, writing, reading my Bible, really praying – these are all things that get me off of the hamster wheel of my workaholic or perfectionistic or escape-laden nature and infuse life into my bones and sinews. I begin to feel put-back-together again and made whole. I know that. But it still feels like a chore or a discipline much of the time.

Don’t read what I’m not saying. Work is important. Cinema and television are generally hilarious and cathartic, and social media is an avenue I use often to reach outside myself and connect with the world. These are all inherently good things. But, when I make them ultimate things and become a slave to them, I cut myself off. I do myself harm. And I need to wake up and open my eyes, remember that no one wants a stinky teacher or wife, and drag my butt out of bed to go rinse myself with some hot water. Okay, and maybe I forgot to use conditioner on Wednesday. And I didn’t read my Bible that morning. But, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Because you know what I did do? I took a shower. I wrote. I dragged my rear out of bed. And that in itself felt like quite a heroic discipline, and oddly, a joy.


A “Good Morning” indeed.

Indeed, it was a good morning.

I began my day the way that I wanted to do so this entire week (though all other mornings were put to good purpose, whether that was sleeping in, spending time with my husband, vegging indoors because I needed it, etc).

Today, I woke up slowly and calmly. I did not grab my phone immediately to check Instagram or Facebook or my email. (#Instagramobssessedmuch?) I did not delete all of my iCal events (Hallelujah!). I did not waste time sleeping in when I didn’t need the sleep. I woke up, arose quietly, grabbed my Bible, notebook, and my planner, unhooked a crate-door where a sweetly calm but wide-eyed Brooklyn lay, and we stole out the back door with the stealth of honorable thieves – stealing time together, and leaving the man of the house to slumber on and dream, maybe of us.

Then, I noticed the weeds, and began plucking and ripping with a vengeance. Two garden areas weeded, sweat-soaked forehead, dirt-smattered arms and legs, and 45 minutes later, Brooklyn and I moved onto the back deck, rinsed our muddy paws, and decided to each sit and take in the morning.

It was beautifully cool. The freshly wet deck and well-watered plants and grass seemed happier and well-cared for. For if God takes care of the birds (and flowers), how much more will He take care of you? (Matthew 6:26 paraphrase).

And He did.

I dove into a deliciously wonderful quiet time (weird phrasing there??), and began by reading Ephesians 1:1-14 on Spiritual Blessings. I was attempting to do a practice-of-old where I read once generally, once specifically, and once personally. I read generally, and I was overwhelmed. My mind was not focusing, the passage was semi-long, and the words began confuddling in my mind (don’t hate; Shakespeare made up lots of words).

Then, I prayed, I opened my eyes, let them adjust to the light, breathed in a little fresh, recently rain-filled air, and began again. Specifically. And the Lord revealed much. I took notes on the spiritual blessings, which were incredible, and perhaps I will blog about them at a later date (to get a taste, He chose us, predestined us, redeemed us, made known to us the mysteries of his will, and gave us the Holy Spirit – whoa!). However, after all of that (I mean, how can you even take all of that in??), I decided it was time to read personally. And I only got through the first two verses before He filled me up and my cup ranneth over.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 1:1,2 ESV

I mean, I realize it’s just an intro, but it was all I needed to hear. Apostles are chosen by the will of God, and I believe with firmness that people like Paul wrote down their accounts and letters to the churches not only to encourage/chide/inquire about churches then, but they also carried a divine intervention which allowed them to include thoughts and sentiments that would encourage the Church even today, and that includes me.

I am not a saint (well, I do need to study more on sainthood), but I was baffled by the fact that if this text is addressing me (and I believe it was this morning), God called me faithful. Faithful… Ha! I am so unfaithful to Him at times that it’s laughable! …Almost… One of my favorite all-time worship songs (which I cannot remember the artist of at this time – someone help me out!!) includes a song of praise/almost whisper at the end of the song, while the music is still running, that says something to the effect of, “You are so faithful, God, even when we are not faithful to you.” That’s so true. We are/I am so unfaithful at times. And yet, God would call me and the people in Ephesus faithful, through Paul. Wow… Later in the chapter it says that,

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. – Ephesians 1:4 ESV

So, I must assume that part of being holy and blameless before the Lord is that he sees us, his followers, as faithful. Holy moly. Holy God! He is to be praised. I’ve never been fully faithful at anything. Yet, he would consider me such, such that I might be encouraged this morning and already chosen, predestined, redeemed, made known, and given the Holy Spirit by his incredible grace, by which he sees me as faithful. Whoa!

And that’s just verse 1. In verse 2, he sends me grace and peace (I mean, it came from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!) “Oh, my God! Take me to the river, and make me clean again!” in the words of Manchester Orchestra.

He is mighty. He is able. He can and does and will reach into our lives and encourage, strengthen, and embolden us as we allow Him to do so. I’m so thankful that I’m experiencing a taste of that.

So after a prayer of thankfulness and then expectancy that He would allow me today to encourage others and that He would give my friends and family BIG pictures of his grace and goodness today, I snuck back into the house with my waggy-tailed Golden Retriever to find my husband, sweetly calm (and almost wide-eyed) checking his phone (and Instagram and Facebook and email?), and I snuggled in, and Brooklyn sidled up and nudged our hands for affection, and I shared what the Lord had done.  And in that moment, He was already answering my prayers.

All praise and glory and honor to Him. Amen (so be it!).