Since returning from Iraq last month, there have been two things I have enjoyed immensely.
First, wearing civilian clothes. Second, taking private showers.
In Iraq, we only had two clothing choices: our military uniform or our fitness uniform. The fitness uniform — a T-shirt and shorts — was the most comfortable choice. We wore it for sleepwear, gym wear, casual wear and, most of all, bathing wear.
I wore my fitness uniform roughly 130 times as I traipsed to the public shower facility, about 100 yards from my room, each time without incident.
Except for that one incident.
It was a day I was particularly distracted after a 12-hour shift. I was trying to squeeze in a quick shower and dinner, all before rushing to the theater for a movie.
During my walk to the shower, I began to suspect that the fitness uniform I quickly grabbed for my theatre attire might be the “pajamas” I’d used the past several nights.
Being unsure, I did what many of you do — although you’d not likely admit it in a newspaper column. I gave the clothes the sniff test.
Oh, come on. Don’t act like you’re better than everyone. You know you do it.
Sniff. Yep, I’d slept in this one too many nights. Nevertheless, I decided to continue to the shower and put on a fresher set before the movie.
At the shower facility, I piled my “pajamas” on the bench that was full of identical fitness clothes and hopped in for my five-minute shower.
Before I say more, you should know that without my glasses, I’m blind as the old cartoon character, Mister Magoo.
After the shower, I grabbed my fitness uniform from the bench, but not before administering one more sniff test.
Suddenly, the smell magically had improved. I was pleased because this would save me changing time.
I slid them on and quickly realized two things.
First, I hadn’t adequately dried myself. Second, these shorts were awfully big.
Had I lost weight?
Would the owner of these now-dampened shorts soon emerge from the shower and try and squeeze into my shorts?
Could I get out of his shorts and into mine and then exit the facility before he emerged?
Amazingly, and thankfully, the answer to that question was yes.
I know you must be wondering what spiritual point could I possibly be making.
Well, I might have to stretch this one a bit, but it helps to remember that sometimes our spiritual clothing will stink more than our neighbors’.
When this happens, it helps to do the sniff test.
That’s right. Jesus preached the sniff test. You have to read between the lines, but he was pretty clear when he urged us to remove the plank from our own eye before trying to extricate the splinter from someone else’s eye.
But I think the most profound spiritual point is the same spiritual point I’ve made in a number of my columns.
God wants us to laugh at ourselves, because he most surely does.