So, as most of you, regular blog readers and friends, will be aware; a couple of weeks ago I moved into my new apartment.
Which has been a super cool and awesome experience.
God has provided in incredible ways, and opened incredible doors, and I am truly and amazingly thankful.
But, this week has provided a rather unique challenge.
Any of you who would class yourself in the category of I-am-a-good-enough-friend-to-know-Peta’s-quirks-and-still-like-her will also be aware that I’m *cough* a little bit funny when it comes to toilets.
And their general cleanliness.
In fact, on the whole, public toilets (and occasionally toilets in other people’s houses) freak me out a little bit.
And by a-little-bit I actually mean a whole-lot.
It’s just sometimes a little bit gross to think about that many people using one bathroom.
And sometimes the reality of that many people using one bathroom is more than a little bit gross.
(I mean, who remembers my run in with the SaniSeat cellophane wrapping in O’Hare airport last year? I am potentially still traumatised on many, many levels…)
ANYWAY, although this particular quirk doesn’t disadvantage me greatly in my day-to-day life and I am able to wo(man) up rather well, it does mean that I am particularly (and maybe slightly neurotically) clean when it comes to the toilet in my home.
I know, I know, I’m giving you way too much information here… But I need to set the scene a little.
When I moved into my new flat I realised quickly that the toilet seat was a little bit… Ropey? Fragile? In risk-of-shattering-into-a-million-tiny-pieces-if-someone-over-the-weight-of-about-80-kilos-sat-on-it? Yeah, one of those options.
It looked fine. It was clean (believe me, it was clean). It looked strong enough.
But it’s appearances were most definitely deceiving.
For my 47-kilo-self it’s been fine. However, I’m a really social person with a variety of friends in a variety of shapes and sizes… Who may *cough* need to use the *cough* said toilet at some point in their visiting-future. And I’ve had a slight fear that one of them would have one of those embarrassing kinds of toilet-seat-shattering-accidents sure to put a spanner in the works of a friendship.
I mean, just imagine…
Ok, so on my post-moving-to-do-list, working its way up to number 1 has been the elusive: ‘Buy a new toilet seat’.
Because, quite frankly, I have had literally no idea where I can buy toilet seats from in Sapporo?! I mean, they don’t sell them in any of the shops that I usually frequent. SuperArcs can’t help me out with this problem. They don’t make such attractive selling features in mall shop windows.
My parents arrived on Tuesday and wanted to buy me a few bits and pieces for the house. So, when they asked what else I still needed to buy, my reply was simple…
‘I need bedroom curtains, and two light fittings… And a toilet seat.’
Seriously. I’m so practical in my gift requests.
I went to teach a couple of classes on Thursday evening and left my parents with my friend Ayumi to drink tea and eat ice cream and generally relax for a few hours.
Which they did.
BUT, and here’s the big but… They also trekked across town to find a DIY shop… And bought me… A new toilet seat.
Best. Gift. Ever.
(I should confirm that upon closer inspection the old toilet seat was missing parts and cracked in a few substantial places… So if you have visited me in the last two weeks please count yourself highly fortunate to have not had a rather embarrassing accident…)
Heated, eco, uncracked-and-solid, toilet seat.
Seriously. The. Best. Gift. Ever.
So, where I am heading with this?
I’ve been thinking about how not just toilet seats, but all kinds of things, can look strong and resilient and steadfast… Until they’re tested for purpose.
I mean let’s face it, a toilet seat is made for sitting on, not for looking at.
Just like we’re made for living and loving and being and all that inside stuff, rather than just for external appearances.
I mean, how often do we look all shiny and new?
We don’t look so messy. On the outside.
But truthfully, dig a little deeper, and we’re a hot mess.
At least I am.
In real realness, my testimony involves some messy kind of redemption. Well, the redemption isn’t messy because God’s the One who runs that show… But the mess… That’s messy. When I talk about the rescue of my Father and the transformation of Holy Spirit, it means I have to be real about everything. It means I talk about failure. And rejection. And freaking completely out when I should be standing strong. And getting so many things wrong before I start to get them right.
It means that I admit that I get scared sometimes. That I don’t have the answers most of the time. And that the only good in me is that which Jesus so patiently plants and grows and waters.
It means I admit that I’m a hot mess without Him. And it’s only His grace that holds me together.
It means that I confess that my only purpose is found in living from the inside out.
I take my cold and hardened heart and lay it before Jesus, who is the very Word of Life, and let Holy Spirit breathe into me until I am ready to truly live from the inside-out. Each moment of every day.
I admit that even in all of my weakness, I am longing and truly longing for a place of deeper intimacy with God.
It’s so incredibly easy to live for so many other eternally-unimportant things. For appearances. For friends. For popularity. For reputation. For money. For what-everyone-else-thinks-about-you… But to live from the inside-out means to truly to live for an audience of One.
We start to see greatness in the way that God sees it.
We stop measuring success in the way of the world, the outward activities of a season, and by human appearances.
We burn from our hearts. From our spirits. From the inside. In a way that keeps us steady and draws us to time with Holy Spirit and allows us to run the race of perseverance. We don’t just talk about it, we overflow with joy in His Presence because it is He who is all our life and all our everything. Even in our weakness.
So, this week my toilet seat got changed.
But I’m praying that everyday for the rest of my life my heart will be changed. Gradually becoming more like Him who is everything to me.
We humble ourselves in Your sight. We confess that there is no other hope. And we repent God for our wicked ways. I repent God for my double mindedness. My heart so prone to wander, so quickly to cling to another. I’ve been leaning on the wisdom of man, and I’ve been leaning on the lusts of the flesh and I’ve been grieving the Holy Spirit. And now I fall face down. Down. Down and I repent. I tear my heart. I rip it open. All that I’ve been holding onto when You are forgotten. I take my heart and I willingly rip it open. For I only want to cling to You. I don’t want to cling to another. I’ve been chasing all those other loves and I’ve forgotten You. Now I take my heart and I humble myself in Your sight. And I confess, I confess, I confess, I need You. (Misty Edwards)
Oh, and enjoy some photos of the last few days adventures….