One evening my husband and I were watching the show King of Queens. My husband grew up in New York so he could relate to many of the themes that ran through the show about living life back East. I don't recall exactly what the episode was about but I remember clearly the Heffernan's going to a friend's home and every single piece of furniture they owned was covered in plastic.
Clear, hard plastic.
The characters sat down on the furniture and every move they made produced a horrific, squeaky noise of skin on plastic. It was equal parts hilarious and cringe worthy at the same time.
"Can you believe there's people out there who actually put plastic on their furniture?" I said in mock horror.
"Actually, I can. My Mother had plastic on our furniture growing up." He said casually.
"No.Way!!!" I responded. "Are you serious????"
"Uh, why would I lie about that?" He said laughing.
I couldn't believe it. Plastic on furniture? That was something I'd only seen in the movies, on television, maybe in a magazine. But I never knew anyone who lived that way in real life. Until I met my husband that is.
Plastic covered furniture. Why would you want to live life with hot, sticky, squeaky plastic on your furniture?
According to my husband?
"So it keeps things nice of course."
Recently my parents downsized and moved into a new home, right around the corner from us. It's a newly built home so my Mom got a bathroom that is much nicer than her previous one. It even has a separate tub/shower. She never had that feature in her last bathroom and it was something she'd always wanted.
"So, are you liking your new bathroom?" I asked her one day.
"I love it! It's so great." She said enthusiastically.
She went on to tell me all about how she loves her baths and all of the bath salts and things she uses.
"That's cool" I said. "So how's the shower?"
"Oh, I don't use the shower" she said.
"You don't use the shower??" I asked, thinking I must've heard her wrong.
"No I don't use the shower. It has that pretty brand new glass on it. If I use it, it will get all the shower scum on it that's hard to get off." She casually replied.
Yes, she was serious.
I couldn't believe what was coming from her mouth. By this point they'd lived in the house for a good six months. Was she really acknowledging that in that extended period of time she had never once stepped foot in her shower and only utilized her tub?
"So let me get this straight" I said "You have the lovely, brand new shower, that you've always wanted, but you don't use the shower because you want it to always look pretty?" I asked in unbelief.
"Yes" she said with a smile. "That's exactly it."
From my husband's family couch, to my own Mothers shower, there's a common theme weaving it's way through their stories.
It's the idea that we want to keep things clean.
We want our "things" to remain sparkly, shiny, undefiled.
Funny thing is, that's not what these things were intended for.
A couch is intended to be comfy, cozy, relaxing. A place to recline on, to find a rest.
A shower is meant to be the place where you let the stress of a hard day fade away. It's meant to be a place of renewing, of cleansing.
This is what was INTENDED for those items.
Instead, they were more concerned with keeping them in such safe keeping their true potential was never realized.
If we always desire to go the safe route, covering our things in hard durable plastic, or never even utilizing them to begin with, we render them useless.
Yes they stay nice.
Yes they stay pretty.
But in the end they are not being used for their intended purposes. Really, they have no purpose at all.
How often do we live our lives this way?
Wanting to stay covered and safe?
That is not the way life was meant to be.
Life is meant to be lived.
Plain and simple.
Try as we may we can never completely protect ourselves from hardships, from pain, from heartache, from disappointment.
We can't throw a "cover" over life to keep it clean and perfect.
Life was not meant to be lived in that manner.
Life is suppose to get messy.
Life is supposed to be, at times, hard.
That is life. That is living.
True living is allowing ourselves to learn from the heartache.
To grow from the stretching. To be strengthened by the pain.
Too often we want to shield ourselves from the lessons life can teach. But those very lessons are what He uses to bring purpose and meaning to us in ways we could've never learned before.
Is it always fun? No.
But true living is vulnerability and a willingness to keep moving forward to the every end.
No matter where it takes you. No matter what it brings.
You won't ever live in the fullness of what you were designed for if you vigilantly guard yourself from the very things that grow and mold you into who you were intended to be.
We have to let down those walls. Our shields. Our safeguards.
Open ourselves to the possibilities of what may come, even if it means leaving something behind.
So let's rip the plastic off our couches so to speak. Go ahead, get muddy and hop in that brand new shower. Get the glass all caked with the remnants of a day well spent.
Of a life well lived.