Sunday was Easter. You probably noticed.
It’s also probable that you and I spent our Easter Sundays in a similar manner.
On Easter Day, I contemplated the miracle of Jesus’ death and resurrection, ate large quantities of broccoli casserole, took a nap in my front yard, sun-burned, and realized that miracles make me rather uncomfortable.
That’s right. Miracles make me feel skeevy. These are my confeeeessiooonnss.
It is weird. I am the girl who would sit in the woods after dark because she was sure dragons were too afraid to come out during the day, but as soon as someone brings the world “miracle” into play, this happens to me:
Religious Zealot: “Isn’t that just such a miracle??”
Lauren: *weird eyes, sweaty neck, drastic change in vocal register* “Weeeellllllllllll yeah, yes. Uh-huh. Yep. Yep. Yeahhh. Yes.”
Religious Zealot: “Why do you sound like that? Did someone punch you in the throat?”
Allow me to make myself more clear…
Things I’m comfortable calling “miracles:”
1. Babies. Have you ever been less than a foot from the face of a baby who giggled without warning? Until then, I will not accept any oppositional argument.
2. Modern medicine. YOU CAN YANK SOMEONE’S HEART OUT AND STICK IT IN SOMEONE ELSE, PEOPLE.
3. Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, New Zealand. Yeah, I’ve seen The Lord of the Rings.
4. Broccoli Casserole.
6. Jesus Christ rising from the grave and conquering sin and death.
5. I ran more than a mile yesterday. I didn’t even die.
Things I actually think are miracles when I’m being less of a heretic:
2. Modern medicine
3. Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, New Zealand (probably)
4. Jesus Christ rising from the grave and conquering sin and death (yes, for sure)
Things I’m uncomfortable calling “miracles:”
1. That one hockey game where the US beat the Russians in the Olympics… probably those guys were just having an ‘on’ night. Maybe they all had protein shakes before the game or something. Also, this seems rather America-centric, doesn’t it? Please don’t beat me up or, like, throw a squid at me.
2. Miracle Whip. Oh, please. You’re just mayonnaise with hubris.
3. Most things.
For a person who has always found it very easy to believe in an awful lot, I am a horrible, horrible skeptic.
I’m on board with everything miraculous in the Bible. YEAH!!! The Earth stopped spinning for about a day! A little kid’s lunch box fed thousands of people!! An old lady filled a jar of oil and just kept pouring it out until she suddenly had tons of oil!!! (Side note: this also happened to me once with a thermos of clam chowder in 7th grade.)
But when people stand up in church and talk about how God miraculously removed their cancerous mole in the dark of the night, I suddenly find the church’s new carpet incredibly fascinating. So fascinating, in fact, that you could not do anything to make me look away from it. Armageddon comes. I’m still transfixed by that carpet. Bear Grylls appears and spears a wild boar. Eyesoncarpet. Until we stop talking about miracles, the carpet is my best friend.
Last summer, I went through lifeguard training for my summer job as a camp counselor. I hate getting wet. I’m also a wuss. Additionally, I apparently never learned to swim correctly. (You are not supposed to separate your fingers and move through the water using a T-rex’s claw-like motion).
After I managed to swim to the bottom of the pool to retrieve a brick, I lay in a puddle of chlorine and teal tile like a trauma victim. All the other trainees tried to pretend they weren’t mentally practicing the correct steps for CPR.
During rescue practice, I lost one of my contacts, which meant that I had to take out both of my contacts, which meant that I could only see colors, which meant that everything was blue, which meant that I ran into many walls. I managed to do it all though, all the practice saves, all the simulation videos, all the brick-fetching and the armless treading of water…
Until the 300. In order to be certified as a lifeguard, you must be able to swim 300 yards continuously. And I thought you just had to be good at running in slow-motion.
That thing. Kicked. My. Booty. If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to start sobbing 200 yards into a continuous free-swim, I can assure you that it only doubles the pain.
I failed to swim the 300 that day. But because my failure occurred in conjunction with the unfortunate disappearance of my contact lenses, I was given the benefit of the doubt and told I would be allowed to try again at the end of the week. If I failed again, however, I would fail the course.
I went back to camp that night and bunked in a cabin with the other recruits. I couldn’t sleep, so I snuck into an empty cabin with a candle and my Bible and I did that thing that you’re not supposed to do—just opened my Bible and started reading the first page I saw.
And I read this:
“The Lord said to him, ‘Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.'” Exodus 4:11-12
It’s from the story of Moses and the burning bush, when God tells Moses to go speak to Pharaoh. Moses protests that speaking is not his gift, but God, being God, is not impressed by this argument.
This is the first time in the Bible that God reveals his name. “I am that I am.” Basically, in layman’s terms, God says, “It’s always about me, not you. And I can do anything.”
So I prayed that night that if God could use a lifeguard certification to his glory, that he would give me the strength to swim that 300 yards, like he gave Moses the strength to speak and lead. And I just re-read my own sentence and I am now furiously studying the carpet. Don’t even try to make eye contact with me.
Spoiler alert. I swam that 300 yards. And it really wasn’t even that hard.
Things that have occurred to me:
This experience could probably be very easily explained by saying that my inability to swim was mental, that my belief allowed me to bypass the mental block that prevented me from accomplishing my goal. You could also surmise that I probably ate different foods before each attempt, got different amounts of sleep, prepared in different ways. You’d probably be totally right.
But, I guess, what is a miracle? On Wednesday, I could not have swum that 300 yards if someone threatened to harpoon my entire family. On Friday, I felt like I could swim another 100.
Things that make me uncomfortable that probably should:
3. Moustaches that are not yet fully formed
4. You don’t want to read any more of these…
Things that make me uncomfortable that maybe shouldn’t:
2. Public displays of affection directed toward me
3. Being wrong
4. Swimming 300 yards
5. The word “miracle”
I’m all for the idea that God gave me strength to do something difficult, that his word gave me courage, that my success gave him glory. But try to slap the word “miracle” on anything, and I’m out. Peace be with you; I’ll be back when we agree never to speak of this again.
Why is that so hard? Why so hard to affirm God’s power in such a way? I don’t know, but I’ve grown more willing to try. Maybe it will get easier, but it would take a… yup. Nevermind.
Lauren (Boersma) Harris (’13) is a spontaneous, idealistic, independent, fierce, over-thinking, damaged, adventurous, ordinary megalomaniac with a healthy sense of self-worth and a high word count. She has been a teacher both indoors and outdoors; she loves improvised comedy, backpacking, and writing, even when it’s required.