Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Sunscreen & the #NarrowRoad
When my friends and I were teenagers and young adults there was nothing better than trips to the beach or hanging out by a pool once summer arrived in North Carolina. While me and my buddies interest was always in the closest body of water (or other "bodies" that might be a part of the local scenery!) my future wife and most of the other females we knew- as well as a few of the guys- were always more interested in "laying out." This was the common 1970s term for sunbathing, and it was both an art and a discipline. Sun worshippers would drag towels, chairs, boomboxes, books, coolers and assorted snacks down to the beach at 10 am, staking out a prime spot in the sun. Take notice now- there were NO umbrellas on the supply list! They would dress in bikinis that covered as little skin as possible and would apply the necessary lotions for being out in the sun. For my wife and many, many others this included tanning oils (SPF -100) to attract the blistering rays of the sun to their skin. It also included something called Sun In that was put in your hair to help the sun lighten the color. Properly prepared, they would then assume the position, laying on a towel on in a reclined chair for the next 6 hours or so. They would periodically flip over to "even out" the tan. While on their stomachs the women would undo the straps of their bikini tops so there would be no tan lines. And every so often they would wander down and splash themselves with water- or on really hot days even jump in for a while. But then it was back to the beach, hoping beyond hope to attract more ultraviolet rays and end the day with darker skin than the person lying next to them. It was ritual. It was normal. And as we know now, it was insane...
Sunbathing still exists, but it is radically different now and has been for many years. We discovered that too much direct exposure to the sun can cause cancer, damage skin and create a variety of other problems. Now we expose ourselves for shorter periods of time. We use sunblocks and sunscreens instead of tanning oils, sometimes with so much SPF that laser beams could not penetrate and reach our skin! And we carry umbrellas in our supplies when we spend a day on the beach. My wife, one of the darkest tanning sun worshippers of the 70s and early 80s, now has enough high protection lotions and sprays to stock a Walmart, and she makes certain that everyone is always covered. The patterns of "laying out" have changed dramatically, not because anyone wanted them to but because the passage of time gave us new information and directed us in new ways. Marilyn still loves to bake in the sun all day turning as brown as possible. She just has to approach it an entirely different way than before.
So what do sunbathing and bikinis have to with the #NarrowRoad? Just this- life is constantly changing. Our hopes, our dreams, our flaws and our gifts are always evolving. We can acknowledge this and make the changes that help us discover what Jesus has in store for our lives or we can fight the change because it makes us uncomfortable. We can go on believing that we know what is best for us, not Jesus. And we can find ourselves with leathery brown spiritual skin, ruined by the summer sun, all because we refused to listen and wouldn't deal with change. Jesus is the same now and forever. Almost nothing else is. The things we believe, and the way we put those beliefs into practice, should evolve. I look at myself at age 55 and praise God that I don't see faith, life or relationships the same way I did when I was 30. We need to learn. We need to accept new truths. And we need to let go of the bad ideas we once accepted as the truth. It's called growth. And it's a very good thing.
So what is this week's sign on the #NarrowRoad? Danger: Detour Ahead. Prepare to go a new way! And be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen.
Because of Jesus,