Going to college at APU was a great experience. I made great friends, studied vigorously (sometimes), and obeyed all the rules. One particular rule both my roommate, Drew, and I loved to keep had to do with having pets while living on campus. Here is the exact rule from the Office of Housing Services:
“Pets: Resident students are not allowed to keep pets of any kind except fish (in a clean, odor-free aquarium). Feeding and temporarily keeping animals in or around living areas is also prohibited.”
During my sophomore year of college, while living in the Mods (an on-campus community), Drew and I had two female dwarf hamsters.
They lived in a colossal mansion with colorful tubes, tons of cedar chips for bedding, and a massive running wheel that kept us up every night. After a few weeks, we figured out how to stop the wheel of insomnia (as it was appropriately named) when we tried to get the 12 hours of sleep every night that we college students needed. The two dwarf hamsters, named “The Girls,” would often enjoy time in a terribly pink hamster ball. One at a time, The Girls got to explore our living room and kitchen on their own.
It was in these moments in which Drew and I were on high alert. Due to the strict “NO PETS” policy that we had supposedly signed at some point in our application process to APU, it was very against the rules to be harboring dwarf hamsters in the Mods.
Because we were “breaking the rules” so willingly, we had to be ever so careful not to be caught. I had never been caught for anything in college up to this point: never written up for staying in a girls dorm room too late, never charged for writing in library books, never yelled at for picking the sacred flowers along the main walkways (not that I did any of these things, of course), and I was definitely not going to be caught with two dwarf hamsters in our Mod.
When my RA (the figure of authority in our living area) came to the door, we knew exactly what to do. It was a ritual we had practiced time and time again. Pick the very pink ball off the floor, throw it, with The Girls, into the closet, pull the clothes on the hanging rack closed and close the closet door. Even if our RA ventured into our closet for reasons unknown to us, the hamster mansion would be covered with a thick row of hanging jackets and shirts.
We perfected this routine by having to perform it on an almost daily basis. Throw the ball away, pull the clothes in, close the door, repeat, repeat, repeat… No one suspected a thing. Success.
Several months later, when Drew and I had moved out of the Mods, we became friends with our previous RA. One night, while hanging out in our new place of residence, Drew and I shared our secret with him. We confessed to hiding The Girls for most of the year that he was in charge of our living area. We revealed to him how we enacted out routine of coverup whenever he knocked on the door. We plead guilty to the months of anxiousness over being caught.
His response? “I knew.”
How many times do we try to hide things in our lives, in fear of being caught and ruining the image we have set up for ourselves? When we try to hide sin, we think we’re getting away with it because we work to perfect our hiding technique day in and day out. But here’s the clincher: we think we’re getting away with it, but God knows. We can’t hide sin from God, no more than Drew and I could hide hamsters from our RA.
Today is the beginning of Lent, the forty days leading up to the celebration of Easter. Take some time this season to surrender yourself, with all your secrets, to God. Take the image you have created for yourself and let God transform it into the true image that reflects our living God.