I’ve seen traffic jams. Try riding on a full-size bus in the heart of Guatemala city during rush hour. It’s lawlessness. The rules of the streets deteriorate into “the angriest driver wins.” Road rage is not just an American tradition, after all. However, it’s gets a whole lot funnier when the person swearing from the car next to you is speaking in a language you can’t understand. That person might as well just be yelling, “I’m angry! I’ am so angry!” It’s hard to take that personally.
It’s one thing to be in a traffic jam on the streets. It’s another to have one in your own bathroom. Here’s an equation for you. 1 bathroom + 1 wife + 4 daughters + 1 stinky dog that always has to be with the rest of the family = intimate invasion. Our bathroom has a singular sink, a singular toilet and a singular shower, which is a pretty good indicator that it was meant for a singular person at any given time. At most, one could argue it was meant for 3 very close, and not-so-bashful individuals at once. How in the world do 6 people use it at the same time? Well, it’s been done, folks.
Here’s how it works. Everyone wants to get ready in the mornings so that the rest of the world can
experience them at their best. I will get into the shower and pull the curtain. Generally, within seconds, a little knock happens on the door with a voice to follow, “Daddy, can I come in.” Like an armed guard, I make sure my area is visually secure then authorize entry. The door is left wide-open and within 2 minutes everyone else is in the bathroom. Now I’m trapped. I can’t get out. “Can I get out now? Can I get out now? Can I get out now!?” Meanwhile the smells from the other side of the curtain range from putrid to perfumed, magnified by high humidity. Somehow, everyone emerges having refined and beatified
Many times being a part of a church family involves a kind of “intimate invasion.” Interestingly, after many people experience it, they come back for more.
Thales of Miletus, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher wrote, “The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.” I’m inclined to agree. There’s no such thing as objective self-analysis. We need others to help us see ourselves more clearly, to aid us in seeing both the good and bad, but that involves a high level of transparency, vulnerability and intimacy. At times, that’s more uncomfortable than having six people and a stinky dog in a 1-man bathroom.
Often that means dealing with the dirt. It involves showing others things we’d rather not, being real, and being willing to listen thoughtfully to advice. The beauty of what emerges though… is for the benefit of the world.
It’s impossible for me to recount how many people leave church services, bible studies, Sunday school and counseling sessions as people better, changed and cleaned up so that the world can experience them at their best. The discomfort is worth it. In fact, it would not surprise me if, after experiencing the intimate invasion of what church has to offer, you come back asking for more.