What do you think about in the shower? This might be one of the most insightful questions of self-reflection that you can answer. In a world that increasingly clamours for our attention at every waking moment of the day with screens literally attached to us during (almost) every waking hour, and endless posts, messages, texts, and emails to think about and respond to, the time we spend alone in the shower is for many people the only time of uninterrupted reflection that people get in a 24 hour period. The shower is where a great many people can think creatively, can for even a few minutes escape from the demands of the urgent or the important, and can truly engage in the type of introspective dreaming that reveals us for who we really are. Perhaps it’s the isolation, perhaps it’s the feeling of heat or steam, or perhaps it is the steady, relaxing stream of water beating against our skin, but when we are alone in the shower with our thoughts, we often find that our true thoughts, motives, and desires are laid as naked as our bodies are in that same moment.
When we stop to ponder life and the world in the shower we get to engage in the types of daydreaming and fantasizing that we can only do when we have no fear of judgment. Those thoughts can (and often do) tend toward the creative, or the absurd, or (most commonly) the ultimate. You see what we think about when we have no agenda to think about anything specifically often reveals what is most important to us. What you get lost in your thoughts about when you shower is a good indicator of your deepest love, your deepest want, your deepest desire. What you think about in the shower—even if never articulated at any other time of the day—may indeed be the thought or issue that unconsciously drives you in every other moment of the day.
For me, I know that those 10 or so minutes in the shower often give me a chance to envision my best-life—what things would be like if I could just change one or two things and wave away the most frustrating struggles that you have. Lately, I've pondered what it would be like working at a church without financial struggles, or what I could do if we only had 10-15 more committed, high-capacity volunteers at the church. Some days I dream about more ‘spiritual' things, but some days I dream about more ‘fleshly' concerns as well. But without a doubt, the most common things that occupy my shower thoughts are concerns about resources (money, people, time) and how I could do so much better professionally and personally if I didn't have to worry about them. And I have been coming to realize that those concerns that fuel my shower thoughts are also the concerns that whether consciously or unconsciously drive my decisions, priorities, and behaviours as well. What I think about in the shower reveals for me the telos or end goal that my life is oriented toward. It shows me what human flourishing looks like in the recesses of my subconscious and it reveals to me, that often, my definition of human flourishing and God’s definition of human flourishing don’t overlap as much as I would hope.
According to the Apostle Paul, the telos or goal of human existence is to become like Christ. In Romans 13 he exhorts the church to “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” And in Philippians 4 he urges the believers in that church to think upon “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.” What he is talking about is having a proper view of what true humanity looks like. He is setting out a vision for human flourishing that is often radically different than the message that we (pastor included) have imbibed from the world. What you think about when no one is watching, and no one is interrupting, may reveal more about you than you know—they may actually reveal what you believe the chief end of human existence is. According to the (shorter) Westminster Catechism: The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. What is your chief end?
So, what are your shower thoughts? And what do they teach you about what you want most? And if someone were able to hear them, comprehend them, and see them (not see you, because that’s just creepy for a conversation about shower thoughts) how would their perspective of you change? What would they reveal about what is most important to you? And what sort of vision or goal of human flourishing are they pointing toward? It might not be the thing that you think it is.