Remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame. 1 John 2:28
A friend with whom you feel the freedom to share everything is a rare find. A friend to whom you share everything, and then who goes and blogs about it on the world wide web is probably rarer. That’s what is about to happen right now.
My friend (we’ll call her Denise, because I only got permission to share this story if I left out her name) was a student at a Christian college. Denise was a missionary kid, too, and, unless you count the time she climbed a tree and threw mangoes at the Africans who were peeing on the wall around her house, she’d never really done anything rebellious or gotten into any sort of mischief. Still, I know her well enough to say with confidence that she’s a rule-breaker by nature. Even though she loves and follows Jesus with all her heart, she does like to push the proverbial envelope from time to time. Just a little. Her rule-breaking and envelope-pushing is usually done quietly, generally unnoticed and ineffective, except maybe in giving herself a sense of personal accomplishment and satisfaction. That’s probably why, in 25 years, she’d never told this story in its entirety to another living soul, except for her husband – until two years ago when she told me. I’ve been sitting on it ever since.
So back to college. Denise was out one night with some friends, and they weren’t going to make it back before curfew. Rather than get in trouble by the dorm monitors for a late arrival, they decided they would just stay out all night instead. Only they didn’t have anyplace to go. In retrospect, getting a table at Denny’s and sharing the Lumberjack Slam, as disgusting as it sounds, would have been a wiser choice. But they were short on cash, and there was a hotel nearby. Hotels have swimming pools. Swimming is fun, and since they missed curfew, they also missed showers, so…hey, two birds, one stone.
Granted, there was a curfew at the hotel swimming pool, too, and, by the way, Denise and her friends didn’t have a room, but that didn’t seem to matter. They were bored and in the mood for a rule-breaking college adventure. So they decided to go for a swim. Only they didn’t have swimsuits.
Denise would want me to interject here that she had not been drinking, nor had her mind been impaired by any other substance. She didn’t do that sort of thing (which might surprise you as you read the rest of this tale).
There was no one in the hotel pool, since it was closed and all the sane people were in their rooms asleep by now. So Denise and her all-girl group of friends took off their clothes and went for a swim. It was one of those swim in/swim out, indoor/outdoor kind of pools, so if they needed a quick escape…easy, right? They were in college. They were locked out of their dorm rooms. They were having the time of their lives. They were…hey, what’s that red blinking light over there? That’s right, they were being videotaped on a security camera.
Maybe she was seeing how long she could hold her breath underwater…the details at this point of the story get fuzzy…but, somehow, Denise was the last of the group to notice the security guard who was coming to get them. The other girls were grabbing their clothes and running for dear life back to the car. But Denise was lagging behind (you’re going to want to come back and reread that sentence after you read the next paragraph…trust me, it’s punny). And she suddenly had another very profound problem.
Denise hadn’t been feeling well earlier that night, so one of her friends had given her a bunch of little chocolate candies, called “ex-lax.” She had eaten them by the handful. I’m thinking it was probably a combination of events – the ex-lax plus the anxiety of a typically well-behaved missionary kid being caught skinny-dipping in a public place on video camera – but it was the perfect storm. Just as the security guard was about to enter the pool area…I don’t know how to write this delicately…well, ex-lax “guarantees relief every time,” but it doesn’t guarantee that relief won’t come suddenly, and powerfully, when you’re naked and swimming furiously away from Paul Blart. It also doesn’t guarantee that you won’t slip on the wet tile around the pool and fall naked into the contents of your relief. Also, it definitely doesn’t guarantee that your friends who gave you the ex-lax will want to be around you or lend a helping hand out of the pool when that relief finally comes. In fact, the people over at ex-lax should probably include a written guarantee that, if the medicine works at the exact moment you’re naked and trying to climb out of a hotel swimming pool because the cops are after you, you’re on your own, Denise. And every cry for help and jolt of laughter is only making a bigger mess, so just stop it.
Somehow, some way, Denise and her friends escaped the hotel without being caught. I’m thinking their adrenal glands had something to do with that. She got herself cleaned up, vowed to never again miss curfew, trespass, skinny dip, or eat ex-lax, and waltzed back into her dorm room the next day without incident.
I have to tell you, I LOL’d the whole time Denise first shared this story with me. I think I even guffawed. Partly out of unbelief, and partly because it is the single greatest most embarrassing moment story I have ever heard in my life. After I got over the shock of the story, I felt honored that she trusted me enough to tell me the details of her most horrifying and shameful moment. And even more honored now that she trusts me enough to write about it.
When we develop close friendship with someone, we grow increasingly comfortable and confident in simply being ourselves. Enough time with that person, enough shared experience, builds trust and gives us the courage to be fishbowl with them. Then, even our most embarrassing moments become something that draw us closer.
Dinah Craik said it this way, “Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.”
That kind of friendship is a blessing. When we find it, we treasure it and do what we need to do to make sure it remains. We would hate to lose or grow apart from a friend like that. How much greater, then, is the friendship offered to us in Christ? How awesome is it that He knows every detail of our lives…every embarrassing moment, mistake, and rash decision…and loves us completely? How determined are we to draw close and remain in that friendship?
When we develop close relationship with God, we find courage, not shame, as He illuminates every hidden thought, motive, word, and action. He doesn’t use it against us; He uses it for us. As He does, we become more like Him, and that is a freeing, inexpressible comfort, indeed. He is your Lord, yes; and He is also your Friend.
Will you trust Him with everything and grow closer to Him today?