Let me begin by saying that each year as Lent approaches, I pray about what I should "give up," and also what I can "offer to" God. In the Bible, fasting is not solely about sacrificing. It is also about adding--through prayer, generosity, or focusing on matters that are important to God. So, this year, I decided to relinquish hot water for all bathing. (I still cook and wash clothes with hot water). I decided that during my cold showers I would offer the Lord prayers for people around the world who lack access to any type of clean water--hot or cold.
My lofty ideals collided with reality the moment I stepped completely under ice cold water the first time I washed my hair. My hair is really thick, and there is just no way I can avoid standing completely under frigid water for at least 5 minutes. The initial 30-60 second shock is the worst--no matter how prepared I think I am, extreme brain freeze commences--like Slurpee brain freeze on steroids. It leaves me with a headache that lasts about an hour. My goose bumps erupt into goose mounds and every cell in my body is benumbed. Yes, I tend to over dramatize a wee bit.
God knows that I am a big, spoiled baby. So, I'm sure it came as no surprise to him that I am NOT praying for others while showering. Instead, I'm feeling sorry for myself. I've told God I would intercede for others AFTER I exit the torture chamber, (a/k/a shower), wrap myself in a fluffy, warm robe, and dry my hair with plenty of hot air.
Because I really dislike cold showers, I have mastered the art of the sponge bath. These are not pleasant, but they are 100% better than a deluge of chilly water. I only wash my hair every 3-4 days. Lots of natural oils translate into grungy and grimy hair. Apparently, when my hair contains a lot of grease, it flattens and lays differently--thus the observation by some that I must have had my hair cut recently. Disgusting? Possibly. Do I care? Not really--not if I can avoid a Siberian prison-style shower for another day.
This exercise has reminded me: though I am doing without hot water, my family is blessed to have constant and easy access to clean water. I am trying to be mindful to thank God for something I usually take for granted. When I fill my girls' sports bottles, I thank God for filtered water that flows from our refrigerator. When I turn on the faucet to fill a pot, I thank God for clean cooking water that will not make my family sick. When I push the button on my washing machine, I thank God that I am not consigned to hand-washing our clothes in a pit of standing water that is swimming in fecal matter.
And when the chill has worn off from my frigid shower, these are my supplications:
"God, I pray today for those who have no water. They are literally dying of thirst. Please provide for their needs.
I pray for parents who must choose today between having their children slip further into dehydration or giving them filthy water to drink.
Please comfort those who are mourning as they watch their children's bodies lowered into the ground for burial because they died of preventable water-borne diseases.
Please protect women who must travel miles on foot to gather water for their family and who daily run the risk of rape to obtain this basic necessity.
Help my family and others who are wealthy to be willing to sacrifice and share so that water wells can be constructed for every person in the world that needs them."
And Lord, most of all, help me to remember that you are Living Water, and that those who come to you will never (spiritually) thirst again. I'm giving up warm showers; God, you sacrificed your Son. Jesus, I worship you because you provide the water that saves and nourishes our souls.
"Whoever believes in me as the scripture has said, streams of living
water will flow from him." John 7:38