I spent my morning on Friday sitting in the local Panera planning and processing a few ideas for my job. Throughout college, I spent most of my time studying and preparing for presentations or exams there while devouring my body weight in their scrumptious blueberry bagels and hazelnut coffee. When given the opportunity to have an off-site work day once a month, I knew exactly where I wanted to go.
There’s something inspiring to be among people as I work, watching and observing from All-Sons-And-Daughters-blaring-through-my-earbuds-while-feverishly-typing-away corner of the room. It’s as if I’m seeing a improv dance routine take place. Everyone moving at their own pace. Ordering, talking, laughing, eating. . . it’s simply beautiful. While the my recent change in diet has forced me to sacrifice on the blueberry bagel (still working on finding a good gluten-free recipe), I still was able to order a large cup of coffee, which I refilled more than I’d like to admit.
It was about the time I was wrapping up my brainstorming session that those ______ cups of coffee refocused my attention to another part of the restaurant. The restroom. Seeing as it was approaching the lunch hour and business was picking up, I decided to open up some real estate for someone else to enjoy, took my things to my car and hurriedly made my way back into the building.
Rushing past the crowds, I burst through the door without breaking stride and was just about to open the stall door when something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. I turned my head to see a urinal on the side of the bathroom. Now, most of you would have immediately realized you were in the wrong bathroom, but I can’t lie. My first thought was, “That’s weird. Why did they install a urinal in the women’s restroom?” Luckily, another thought immediately interjected my mind and caused me to realize I was indeed in the wrong restroom. As swiftly as I darted through the wrong door I made my way out and into the proper room, hoping (no, praying) no one would catch me correcting my mistake.
Fast forward through a few details and I am red-faced and giggling at myself in the car over what just took place. Did that seriously just happen to me? I obviously was so focused on myself and my needs that I failed to follow the signs marking the answer to my problem.
As funny as Friday’s experience was, it’s amazing how many times I’ve found myself in other similar situations. When facing a problem, I ignore the signs for help and direction God has placed in my path and I end up standing in the middle of a terrible, embarrassing or just plain sinful situation. What’s even worse is I don’t always immediately realize where I am. The longer we refuse to spend time with God and humbly seek Him, the harder it is to hear His voice and notice His direction. Any situation of pain or struggle, whether physical, emotional or relational is terrible and we must acknowledge it, but when we begin to idolize the pain and allow it to control us, we drift further and further away from God’s direction, healing and restoration. Over time, the problem becomes the only thing we can see and builds a barrier over our heart and eyes, inhibiting us from seeing or accepting truths God is trying to share with us.
The good news? In each problem I’ve been in, I eventually realized where I was (thank you, God!). Sometimes I was standing outside the door. Other times I was in the middle of the room, staring at the urinal and wondering why it was in the wrong restroom. No matter how deep I was in a wrong situation or how unlike Jesus I was behaving, I still got the opportunity to turn around and walk in the right direction. There’s a bit of shame and embarrassment, a bit of giggles at foolish decisions, but a whole lot of thankfulness for God providing a way out.
I love the way God uses embarrassing situations in our life to reveal truths to us. You better believe the next time I am faced with a problem, I will pause and look around to see if my surroundings are what they should be. Until then, I am simply going to try and make sure I avoid being in the wrong room. . . because I probably won’t be lucky enough to walk into an unoccupied room the next time. 🙂
Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.