Monday, March 29, 2010

Life is a hot shower

A friend was using the shower as an analogy for something the other day, something to do with a project. I don't remember, but I was thinking that the analogy actually works pretty well for the way life works.

A shower has all the appearances of complete control. You look at it and you can say what you would do to get hot water, cold water, change the amount of water, and sometimes even the way the water comes out of the shower head. (The rest of this analogy sort of depends on you being the type that really likes hot showers... which I do.) There's always that beginning adjustment period where you fudge the temperature around until it's just the way you like it, sometimes this takes longer than others but then as the shower progresses, the water will not feel quite hot enough and so the handle gets bumped a little more and a little more to get the heat back where it needs to be. (I remember at home when I used to take super long showers the handle would have turned a good thirty degrees in the time between the initial set up temperature and where it was at the end with me just slowly bumping the heat up.) But after all this adjustment and build up in temperature; once in a while, if the shower lasts too long, other people are using the hot water, or you're at some camp with limited water supply all of the sudden the water goes cold.

I feel like life's that way... With a lot of endeavors you start out not quite where you want to be; it's uncomfortable, but you work your way up to a point where it's comfortable enough to linger in. As time goes on, you might begin to take that stage for granted and want something more or maybe something happens that makes things not so comfortable again and so you turn the heat up and begin to pursue something bigger or just act to get your life back on track. Life never stays comfortable though... there's always things outside of our control, no matter how many knobs we're offered and how much we can plan and see the way that our lives are going to work... do well in school, to get into a good college, to have a good career, to earn a lot of money... and then every once in a while things just go cold. We're never guaranteed that things will go as planned no matter how much we take our independence and control over our own lives for granted. I'm becoming more and more aware of this as an increasing amount of people around me reach points in their lives where they end up hitting rock bottom, often meeting failure in times when it seemed like everything was going alright. It's only in those times that we remember that really we're not in control at all... not even in the times when things seem to be going right. There's so much beyond the small space of our shower that is dictating the temperature and quality of what comes out, a really complex system that is tied into the workings of an entire municipality, country, or (to some extent) world. For Christians this a moment to remember that life is bigger than our own plans, God is in control, and there's someone to trust in who's bigger and more constant than all life's problems. For many, this has been a source of comfort time and time again. Success and personal worth does not need to be defined by success within society, school, career, or relationships... I wonder though, what's the reaction for those without that belief?

What is hope in times when things are out of control?