Let’s Get Naked
Posted on October 31, 2013
Life is funny.
I could stand in front of an auditorium filled with hundreds of people and share the most intimate details of my life. It’s why I was born, right? To share my story. Yet, if you got close to me–like really close–I guarded my inhibitions tighter than the Alamo. If you asked me how I was doing I would, scrupulously, say I’m okay.
Those two words became the shield to my heart and barrier to a truer and deeper me. But, I wasn’t always okay. Sometimes I was really scared, or angry. Sometimes I wasn’t in the mood to exercise patience. Or, sometimes I was just PMSing. There was nothing wrong with going through the range of these emotions. I’m human, which means I’m allowed to feel. I was, however, afraid that not being okay meant I wouldn’t be accepted and loved.
I was afraid that being the rawest version of myself in front of others would leave me susceptible to judgement. And my greatest fear in the whole opening-your-heart-and-letting-people-see-the-real-me fiasco was that my weaknesses would be used as a weapon against me. It’s happened before and I vowed to never allow it to happen again.
So, I got good at masking my struggles. I learned how to starve the intimate areas of my heart that yearned for connection; not even giving those over to God in prayer.
I became a master at evading emotion, suppressing and being okay. Unfortunately, the less vulnerable I allowed myself to be, the more lonely I felt.
No one knew the real me.
I spent nine years in a relationship with my ex-husband and he never knew his slamming the doors in our house gave me flashbacks to being beaten and locked in a closest for hours at a time. He also never knew his criticisms fed my ever-growing insecurities. I never told him these things. I was too afraid. I believed being his wife meant being perfect and anything less than perfection wasn’t acceptable.
While on the outside I was putting on a front, on the inside I was desperately screaming for someone to tell me that even if I wasn’t okay life still would be. But, I wouldn’t allow myself the freedom to need.
That’s the thing about vulnerability. It’s what we need to experience deep and meaningful relationships. Being vulnerable activates our ability to connect with others. Without it we’re all just playing one big game of pretend. But it’s scary as hell. Being vulnerable leaves us open. And no one likes to feel open. It’s why Adam and Eve hid in the garden after they ate the fruit. For the first time they realized God could see them, both their good and evil.
In many ways I knew it would take someone looking beneath the pretense of my “I’m okay” to pull me out of myself. It would take someone patient, loving and kind. It would take someone who knew the fragility in being vulnerable.
That’s when he came along.
I remember reading the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is one of the few moments where we get a glimpse of His intimacy and vulnerability before God. This story is key because up until that point we see Him, assured, confident and affirmed in God’s love. Yet, in the garden–right before His crucifixion– Jesus’ words, “Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from me…” show a different Messiah. He is fragile and afraid. (Matthew 26:36-46)
I thought about what it must have taken for Jesus to cry out to God; to ask not once, but three times for relief of the burden He was about to carry. I thought about how He must have felt stretched out on the cross, in the most vulnerable act of love ever known to mankind. I let the picture of Jesus on the cross sink into the deepest places of my heart.
Slowly, patiently and loving, God opened me. He gave me permission to be myself: broken, afraid, insecure, frustrated, prideful and sinful. He showed me in my weakest moments that He could still love me. He placed people in my life who would reflect that same kind of love, people who loved me with the heart of Christ.
As I began the slow process of letting people in I saw beauty in what made me vulnerable. I developed a stronger ability to love. I grew more passionate and compassionate. I stopped being afraid of my dreams and desires. And I learned to be okay with not being okay.
This is what God does when He comes into our lives. He pulls back the layers of who we are. He strips us down to the core to show us He’s not concerned with us coming before Him polished. He wants us in our most vulnerable state so He can engage us at the deepest level of love.
And when we do this–allow ourselves to be vulnerable–we give others permission to do the same. Then, we create a chain of freedom and healing. Instead of putting on our masks and hiding behind “I’m okay,” we expand. It’s in this place of vulnerability, openness and expansion we find that in this great big world, none of us are ever alone.
Now it’s your turn:
When was the last time you got naked?
Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.