I am tirelessly careful about what other people view me doing. I try to be cautious and modest in my dress, I am discreet and private when clearing my nasal passages (please don't make me expound on that...) and I pride myself on my proper, ladylike behavior. But there are times, when control of what others observe me doing is removed.
Such was the case this week.
In preparation for the company this weekend, I was fulfilling my job duties as "Keeper of the Cement Pond." I was skimming, chlorinating, vacuuming, and sweating. When I clean the pool, I usually dress in my oldest, tattered, faded clothes because I am notorious for getting chlorine on them and fading them. That day was no different. In addition to bumming down, I will neglect to apply makeup or style my hair. Why apply what is going to be sweated off into the pool water anyway, and then require more treatment to remove?
As this Beverly Hillbilly 90210 pool gal worked her magic clearing up the water, in a manner only Moses and his staff could rival, a predicament arose. In the bottom of the 10 foot deep end, garbage had become trapped in the drain preventing the water to flow properly through the pump. On any other given day in the summer, there would have been short elves and dwarfs in the water who would have been thrilled with the task of diving down and cleaning the drain. On this such day, no one under 5' 4" was present. Desperately needing to get the pool cleaned, I decided to take action. I would dive down and retrieve the garbage. Since I have not invested in my own pool accessories, I decided to borrow from the kids treasure box of gear. Digging through the jumbled mess, I found a pair of goggles I needed to be able to see the drain clearly under water. As I stretched the goggles over my head, I realized my head is considerably larger than a 7 year olds. I adjusted the goggles to as large as possible, and then wedged them over my head. Instead of holding all my hair down under the band, it somehow managed to redirect my hair upward, giving the appearance of a hairpiece perched upon my head ready to be released with the next good breeze. That, however, was minor to the change the goggles made to my face. I apparently have quite a bit more facial fat than a 7 year old also. The goggles had the opposite effect of a face lift. Every ounce of fat on my face was pulled down into the goggles. I was struggling to see through the two slits where the cheek fat met my eyes in each lens. Because of the immense pressure of the goggles on my face, every bit of skin out side the goggles was red and every bit of skin in the goggles was white. I looked like a homeless diver, who had been stung by a bee and was awaiting the Jaws of Life to remove me from my entrapment.
It was uncomfortable, yet I knew the sooner I got it over with, the sooner I could move on to another project. I slid into the water, and prepared to submerge beneath the surface. If submerge gives you the mental image of a submarine diving towards the depths, good. That's the only image that can come close to describing this amount of flesh entering the water.
I bobbed in the deep end for a few minutes, practicing holding my breath, and situated myself against the wall to be able to effectively push off the side and gain momentum for the journey down.I was beginning to feel like I belonged in a Jacques Cousteau documentary. " Watch as the massive creature circles her prey, preparing to lunge in for the kill," He might would say in hushed tones. I was finally ready to pursue the drain. Deep breath, solid push against the wall, and I am under. I t is really hard to judge distance under the water. I overshot the drain and tried to turn mid glide and swim back toward the drain. But a new problem arose. When shorts get wet, and when they are loose anyway, they tend to not stay put. Every time I moved forward, my shorts tried to stay stationary in the water. I developed a new stroke. I would use both hands to glide forward, then both hands to grab the shorts. I looked like a jellyfish, where the legs move first, then the head has to catch up. I repeated this stroke across the pool. Glide with arms, grab shorts. Glide with arms, grab shorts.
Finally I was back over the drain, and already exhausted with my new synchronized swimming routine. I rose to the surface, gagging and choking as I held my shorts with one hand and tried to remain afloat with the other, took a deep breath, and plunged back into the water. I managed to get to the drain and grab a huge handful of leaves. I kicked for all I was worth trying to hold onto the garbage and my shorts. I broke through the service again, gagging and coughing, as I doggy paddled my way to the shore to deposit my garbage on the concrete. Unable to use my arms, I decided to flip on my back and float to shore. I held the handful of leaves straight up in the hair like the Liberty Torch, and kicked and splashed my way to the side of the pool. When the side was in reach, I slapped those leaves on the pavement, just as the goggles slid up pulling my hair into a tight pony tail on top of my head, while the bottle of the goggles caught on the tip of my nose, pulling it straight up in "pig like" appearance. Unable to fix the goggles, hold the shorts, release my hair, and stay afloat, I just bobbed and gagged for a moment to catch my breath. It was then I noticed two boots attached to brown pants standing 12 inches from me. I looked up into the very disturbed and shocked face of the UPS man.
It was obvious by his stunned face, and perched stance, he had been standing there a while. I don't know if he was more afraid of me coming out of the water, or of possibly having to go in after me. I am not sure he wanted to hang around for either possibility.
"Hi," I blubbered.
"I...I... have a package for you," he stuttered.
"OK. Just leave it on the porch, " I said in a tone of voice that I hope resembled that of an efficient secretary and not that of a beached whale.
" I will. Are you gonna be alright?"
What a loaded question. I have never been "alright". I am an accident waiting to happen, and a candid camera's dream. I felt, however, that I needed to re-assure this man so he would not worry about me on the remainder of his route.
So what could I say, that would ease his mind and yet explain my behavior. With a contorted, red face, I gave my explanation.
"You know how rodeos have clowns? Sea World is going to try the same concept in the Shamu show. Water clowns. I'm trying out."
Without a moment's hesitation, he replied, "You're ready,"with a twinkle in his eye, as he backed the big brown van down the drive-way.
I was embarrassed, and yet it was an obvious reminder- you never know who is watching you. You may work diligently to portray to others exactly what you want them to see and perceive about you, but what you truly are will eventually shine through. Sometimes the only catalyst needed to bring out our hidden nature is a forbidden fruit tree, a bathing maiden on a roof top, a crowing rooster, or even suffering. We may be observed in the fiery furnace like the three Hebrew boys. We may be observed in our slavery like Joseph. We may be observed in our power and authority like King Saul. We may even be observed in our death like Stephen. How will we do? Will the true nature of Christ shine through us? Will we be able to draw on the unending source of strength and power in our lives, or will the emptiness of our spiritual tank become obvious to all. So many times we feel we are inadequate to be used for the kingdom. We do not realize we are daily a testimony to the world. Every action is documented by a lost world and a knowing family. It is the difference bewteen carrying the cross and wearing the cross. One strives to make a statement with no sacrifice involved, the other seeks to protray the sacrifice that requires no further statement- an innocent King on a guilty man's cross-my cross. The true measure of a Christian's commitment is not what he does with the cross, but what the cross does to him. The world will not be reached by viewing our religious jewlry and wearing our catch phrase T-shirts, if underneath we do not also bear the marks of the cross on our back and His Word on our lips. Someone is watching and a world is waiting.
Don't be caught with garbage in your hand and holding up your britches. A lost world is not drawn in by that image, only UPS drivers.