Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Undiscovered Country

Yesterday I had a decision to make. I was at the end of a long food shopping trip at superstore with my wife and two kids. As we were bagging up our groceries (superstore is still to cheap to have someone bag your food), my wife said "Trinity needs to go to the bathroom." Now Trinity is currently "training" in this art and so I knew we didn't have much time. I was in luck! A stranger pointed to a hallway a few feet away and said "The bathrooms are that way." I grabbed Trinity and ran down the hall to find two doors, a boys bathroom and a girls bathroom. Now I should stop right here and say that this kind of thing has usually been Mom's kind of thing to do. So I was initially a little confused. Trinity's a girl but I'm a guy. What bathroom should I then take her into. Logic prevailed and I took her into the men's bathroom. However, I was shocked to see that the bathroom in this massive superstore had exactly one toilet. One! And it was currently occupied.

At this point I began to sweat. Trinity was certainly not going to wait very much longer to go to the bathroom, wether she was sitting on a toilet or not. We didn't have time to wait! I became aware of hate feelings rising inside me. Hate for Superstore with its hopelessly underequipped bathrooms, hate for the man who was on the toilet, and hate for myself for getting into this situation. What could I do? I dashed out of the men's room with Trinity and looked at my only other option; the women's bathroom. Horror overcame me and I froze.

Never in my life have I been in a girl's bathroom. For me, this is one of those things that define you. Things like "I'm a Christian," "I'm a mac user," etc. I'm not sure where this fear comes from. Perhaps being labeled as a pervert? Maybe I'm not as secure in my masculinity as I thought? Whatever the case, going into a women's bathroom is a massive taboo for me. So it was with incredible reluctance that I gingerly pushed open the door and looked inside. It was empty. I dashed inside and sat Trinity on the toilet. Closing the door to the stall, I prayed ferverently that no one would come in - thus making me have to explain why I was there. It seemed like an eternity (actually it was about 45 seconds) and then I whisked her out of there. I walked shaking back to Jobina and Riker but couldn't bring myself to talk about what had happened. The trauma and guilt were still too fresh in my mind. . .

Later as I reflected, I realized that sometimes we get ideas in our heads and stick to them without really knowing why (and sometimes despite the fact that we know better). But after we've stuck to them for awhile it is almost impossible to go against them - unless like me you enounter the possibility of something worse. I think of things like racism, sexism, etc. People stick to these ideas (even in the face of clear logic against them) until the consequences of sticking to these beliefs become untenable. Perhaps this is why God sometimes has to shock us into a paradigm shift?

May Light increase!


RLE said...

Thanks for that post, Mark! I laughed my way through the first part. I think that it is easier for girls to go into a men's washroom - people just understand that they were impatient or didn't feel like waiting. So, are you going to be comfortable enough next time to use the women's washroom?
God does so often shock me out of my preconceptions, but mostly it takes time for me to "get it" and a lot of it right now is about what I have always believed a faith in Him looks like. Michael got a lot of the concepts years ago, it's just taken me until now to "own" them as my own.

Mark said...

Rayna, I hope to never, ever go into a woman's bathroom again. But if I am so forced (under duress) it should be easier I think. Paradigm shifts are never easy.