In my imagination, I am a comfortable in any situation, with any group of people, and can live through anything.
In reality, I am nervous in front of a crowd, shy around strangers, and uncomfortable in confrontational or scary situations. I like my creature comforts and don't really like going to far out of my "comfort zone" either politically, worship style, lifestyle, or culturally.
Guess you could say I'm far from Christ and his ability to be all things to all people and fit in with the beggars and lepers as easily as the scholarly and wealthy.
Honestly, you could probably call me a snob. Or a snot. Spoiled. Suburban. WASP. Lots of names come to mind. I like where I live, the people in our sphere who are a lot like me, and I find comfort in the known.
Yesterday, I was out of my element. I ventured into a Laundromat for the first time in probably a decade or more. Our dryer is not spinning and thus the clothes I put in yesterday morning stayed wet! That also meant the the sopping wet clothes in the washer were going to stay that way.
After Pilate's, I took my two huge laundry baskets of wet clothes (and, of course, a basket of still dirty clothes) to the Laundromat to finish the process. That's it. No laundry soap, no hangers, no quarters; just my basket, a book and a dream of walking out in half an hour.
Reality says that I was ill prepared for my visit to Wash World. I did not have all the right supplies, I did not know the lay of the land, or the right machines to use. The crowd on a Tuesday morning was different than any other group I hang with on a normal basis. There was the Army Dude with biceps bulging and tattoos everywhere visible. The young mother with a crying toddler who looked stressed and depressed. The elderly man who looked lonely. The smart alec young man who looked hung over and was trying desperately to listen to his Ipod over the loud television.
Where did I fit in this group? I was the suburban mom with wet clothes who had no clue.
Mr. Army gave me some Tide for my one load of wash, told me not to waste my money on the "vending box of soap" it's bad he said, decades old. The young mother looked longingly at the book I was reading and we talked a little about the Library and ordering books online and how easy it is to read on the go. Her little girl giggled, smiled, and finally fell off to dream land.
The elderly man needed help getting the dryer to work, and since I had just figured my machine out, I offered my "expertise."
I wished I'd try to reach out to the young man in the corner, but I was nervous. Reality says I was probably too snobby to try. He was "rough" and I had little in common with him.
The Laundromat is not a place I plan to "hang" on a regular basis, but it taught me some things about myself and others that I'm not I could have learned anywhere else. Yes, I like my comfort zone and am most happy in my own little world, but sometimes it's nice to "see" a glimpse of the rest of life and realize that there are lessons there too!
Now I'm just praying the Dryer is an easy repair and that my next "visit" out of my comfort zone doesn't involve quarters and hangers and big industrial machines. Maybe I could hang out at the hip coffee shop in the "liberal/granola" part of town and learn a few things there.