“This is what happens… when people stop being polite… and start getting real.”
I have to admit, I’m not completely honest. I leave out details; I exaggerate. I’m given to hyperbole and at times in my life, outright fabrication. I commit the sins of comission like everyone else, and add to them significant sins of omission. I shape stories to fit the page or the situation. Humans are storytelling animals, we cover, we conceal, we embellish. I do all those things to seem less sinful, more intelligent, less filthy, more appropriate. I don’t advertise my weaknesses, unless I can show that I’m trying to change and on the road to strengthening them. But there’s more.
Friday before last, I published the first Naked Scripture Friday post, and to be cheeky (heh heh), I posted concordance verses about nakedness. Just when I thought I was being funny, don’t you know, God starts to work on me about nakedness. Seems now, that everything I read uncovers (zing!) something new about nakedness. It’s left my soul bare (shazam!). Okay, now that that’s off my back (oh, you just thought I was finished), let me dip into the Scriptures I posted and what I’ve found this week in my reflections (see how I left myself “exposed” with the word “dip,” didya? didya?).
I’m reading Donald Miller’s book Searching for God Knows What, because I think it’s important for me, as a cradle Christian, to understand all of the layers I’ve developed in my relationship with Jesus Christ, and see him as non-Christians or new Christians do. There aren’t layers when you’re a baby Christian – you come to Christianity, you come to Christ, naked. Miller has a whole chapter entitled, Naked. His argument in this chapter is that before the fall of man, humans were naked, but they didn’t notice this fact because they had such a close and fulfilling relationship with their creator, that they didn’t need anything else. They were complete. They had not yet distinguished themselves from nature, from creation, from God. Once they did, they knew shame.
Skip over to my daily blog habit, StuffChristiansLike.net, where I read that #512 of things that Christians like is ‘Thinking You’re Naked.” This short essay made me cry, because he talks about the genesis of that shame we feel, and how that shame gets in the way of making progress in our relationship with Jesus. In Genesis 3:11, God asks Adam and Eve: Who told you that you were naked?
And then, as if to further uncover the shame I’ve been carrying around, the shame that keeps me from posting the whole truth, Jonathan Acuff delves further into the questions God would ask us, not just Who told you that you were naked? but Who told you that you were not enough? Who told you that I didn’t love you? Who told you that there was something outside of me you needed? Who told you that you were ugly? Who told you that your dream was foolish? Who told you that you would never have a child? Who told you that you would never be a father? Who told you that you weren’t a good mother? Who told you that without a job you aren’t worth anything? Who told you that you’ll never know love again? Who told you that this was all there is? Who told you that you were naked?
I lost it at “Who told you there was something outside of me you needed?” because that is the whole point, isn’t it? We were complete in him and now we are not. We were bare before him and now we clutch things to ourselves, fashioning cover that God sees right through. I may not be able to have a perfectly stark and honest relationship with any person on earth. I’m always going to keep my mouth shut to be polite when someone makes an offbeat or stupid comment. I’m always going to make choices about what to divulge and what to reveal, and I’m probably going to always declare that “that was the best soup” or “there were only about 50 million people in line in front of me.” There are going to be layers and levels that separate me from naked relationships with others.
But God, I’m going to let him work on me. I’m going to let him soothe the anxiety. Before him, I want to be stripped and unashamed.
What types of things make you feel shamed? How do people shame one another? How can we stop heaping on the shame and break free?