I call my shower my revelation chamber.
I cannot tell you how many talks and posts and lessons and essays and parenting practices and journal entries and important discussions have been spiritually created in that small space in my bathroom. While the warm water washes over my tired body every night, my mind and spirit become more uncluttered from the stuff of the day, and I am able to hear the Lord's voice more easily.
As of late, however, showering has been a source of aggravation for me as well. Recently, while drying myself off, I grimaced as I glared at the layers of gook covering the door and walls of the shower stall.
“I need help,” I cried out loud, with only God to hear my cries. A feeling of desperation crept into my gut. Because of a recent downturn in my health, I was falling further and further behind in my household chores, and my shower was a constant reminder of all that I was not getting done. And I simply couldn't find the strength to do it. (Nevermind the fact that crouching and bending exacerbate the dizziness and headaches and muscle fatigue that afflict my body right now.)
At first I thought I could just ask my husband for help, but he, too, is swamped — in part because he already does so much to help me with my load. (It should go without saying that chronic illness taxes the whole family.)
I started going through names in my mind. I didn't know whom to ask. And I didn't know how to ask. (I couldn't picture myself picking up the phone and saying, “Hey, what are you doing today? Can you come clean my showers?”)
Not two weeks ago, I had a talk with one of my local priesthood leaders about how hard it is to have chronic health struggles. Our stake focus is on self-reliance, and yet…and yet…. He reminded me that sometimes we need to ask for help. I followed his counsel to ask my home teachers for something recently, but this — this was still just too much for me.
But then — would you believe it? — last week, I received an unsolicited message from a friend. Even though she didn't know all the details, she knew I was struggling, and wanted to help. “Don't be noble, now,” she said. “Let me come and do something.”
My instinct was to pretend that I really was fine, that I had things under control, that I really didn't need help.
But I did. Desperately.
So I gulped as my pride and embarrassment rose like bile in my heart, and said, “OK. I could really use help cleaning my showers.”
I fretted and regretted sending that reply.
But she was gracious and gentle in her responses, thanking me for the opportunity to serve. She threw in a good dose of humor, too, telling me she would throw a shoe at me if I cleaned before she came. (I confess that I did, but not much. We women are so predictable, aren't we?)
Today was the day. (Gulp.) My friend came with a smile, a hug, stories of her own housecleaning horrors, and three darling daughters who sprayed and scrubbed and served a struggling stranger for over two hours.
That's about ten hours of work. Ten hours of work that I don't have to do.
I feel about ten pounds lighter.
While they worked, I tackled piles of paperwork and other things that needed to be done. Before I knew it, they were quietly scurrying out the door, trying hard to escape without ado. I know they didn't want fanfare, and I imagine that they could sense, too, that this was all hard for me.
In a way, I'm glad they left so quickly, because I had determined not to cry, and I just might have lost it had I tried to really express my feelings.
As reflected on all of this today, I was reminded of something I read recently in the Ensign:
Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made….
There is an interdependence between those who have and those who have not. … We are all self-reliant in some areas and dependent in others. Therefore, each of us should strive to help others in areas where we have strengths. At the same time, pride should not prevent us from graciously accepting the helping hand of another when we have a real need. To do so denies another person the opportunity to participate in a sanctifying experience.
– Marion G. Romney
To my friend and her daughters, if you are reading this, thank you. Thank you for taking time out of your crazy-busy schedules to serve and help me. Thank you also for being sensitive to my sensitivity about letting you into my messy life.
My shower will continue to be a sacred place to me not only because of the way the Lord communicates to me there, but because smooth, clean tile and glass will be a reminder for days and weeks to come of the way God heard my cries and sent you to my aid.