I didn't want to go to the picnic. It's 427 degrees and the humidity is 95% – okay, maybe not that hot, but I believe the humidity is hovering in the 90s and it feels like the inside of sauna outside. I don't like to sweat. Sweating is inevitable if it's hot and humid and you're outside. Picnics happen outside. I don't know why. I think a picnic would be just as fun in an air-conditioned building or if it has to be outside – I vote for November. Why does everyone want to picnic in August? This is Alabama — it's warm straight through October and sometimes into November and December.
Today was our annual church picnic. It's August. We're in Alabama and it's hot outside, which is where the picnic takes place. Did I mention that I don't like to sweat? I don't find anything appealing about it. Salty water dripping off me – not the fashion statement I'm going for. At one point I believe my kneecaps were sweating. I don't think I have sweat glands in my knees, but maybe I developed some standing outside in the heat. And the bugs, which I think are attracted by the sweat, came out in force. It seems that bugs do LIKE the heat and the humidity. They seem to really enjoy me in the heat and humidity. It's so nice to popular among the insect crowd.
So, why did I go if I didn't want to? Guilt — just plain, ol' guilt (thanks Nancy). Couldn't I just spend one afternoon sweating for Jesus? Well, when I thought about it that way, I just had to go. I whipped up a batch of cookies, pinned my hair up and headed off to the picnic.
There were lots of people, lots of children, lots of teens, and a whole lot of food. And fans – big fans and coolers filled with iced down water. I walked to the pool and back with friends. We laughed, talked and I groaned a lot about the heat. Did I mention I don't like to sweat? I sweated. A lot.
After lots of food – all good – and a few desserts (it would be rude to leave anyone's dessert out and I try to never be rude when desserts are involved), we listened to some praise music and there was even some hand-clapping. I love hand clapping. We were fortunate to have a member of our church give a testimony.
I listened to this gentleman tell his story of growing up in Vietnam in the war. Now, many of you reading this may not remember the war in Vietnam – I barely do. I just remember watching the troops come home and I remember the stories from uncles, cousins, and friends. I continued to listen to this testimony about the horrors of war and the sadness of life in a war zone. I remembered the stories I heard about the heat in Vietnam and suddenly, the heat in Alabama didn't seem so bad. When I sat there in front of that big blowing fan drinking my iced down bottle water, I remembered just how blessed I truly am. I live in a free country with all the amenities I can imagine. I don't worry about bombs or soldiers with guns. I have plenty to eat and clean water to drink (and I even have water in bottles in case I don't like the stuff that comes from the tap). I have a reliable car and live in a big house (particularly when you compare it to a thatch roof hut). It's amazing how this change of focus changed my attitude. Suddenly, the heat wasn't so bad, the bugs weren't so annoying and that iced down water became even more of a blessing.
Just a few nights ago I was reading about the work of Compassion International and their work with the children of the garbage dumps. I was so moved by these stories, but just let me get a little hot and it's all whining, all the time. It took the story of a man I go to church with every week to remind me just how blessed I am. You know what's amazing? In his testimony he never felt sorry for himself – even when he told about witnessing death and destruction. He never felt sorry for himself – that really convicted me, since I was whining over a little (okay, it was a lot) of sweat.
So, I'm off to jump through my shower – and I'll be thankful for all that I'm blessed with. Clean water, a house to live in, a family who's not living in a war zone, a husband who loves me, children who are a joy in my life, friends who make me laugh, and a life that is so very, very blessed — even when I sweat.
Take a look around and remember just how blessed you are today — even if you're sweating.