Going Bare: Undressed and Unashamed

"Undress" by Clare Elsaesser, Etsy

“Undress” by Clare Elsaesser, Etsy

I have strategically placed mirrors on walls to make my small apartment feel larger, but more often than not I catch glimpses of myself, having the same effect. If ever I see the reflection of my body while changing clothes the loathsome self-talk begins.

Seriously, lay off the ice cream.

When ARE you going to get to the gym?

When did that crease become a lump? 

And these are the tame thoughts. The names I call myself make my cheeks burn.

Occasionally this digresses into an intensive examination of every flaw. My hands become instruments of manipulation; lifting, stretching and flattening in an attempt to visualize a more ideal figure. I stop only after draining the well of disgust, then cover my curves with the most flattering things I can find. On those days hangers and clothes grow in heaps on my bed as I try on outfit after outfit. I often give up and add layers or accessories to conceal and distract from the parts I most dislike.

///

As soon as I said yes to Naked, things got real. I began to see that God calls our bodies good, that He created us naked and unashamed. I came to understand that the shame we feel about our bodies is not inherent, it is learned. Little children run streaking through their homes, gleefully, until someone scoops them up scolding, “Shame on you!” In just an instant, joy and freedom can be replaced with shame and insecurity. Once learned, it is often fiercely guarded in the dark places of our hearts, deepening as we age and absorb lies about our bodies. Some of the most damaging lies are those spoken over us, but they are also adopted through the cruel regimens of comparison against perfection.

You are fat.

You are skinny. 

You must look like them in order to fit in. 

You are disproportionate. 

Your body will not be desirable.

You must always hide.

{The lies are endless.} 

I came to know that Jesus bore my shame, yet I didn’t want to give it up; I was conditioned to wear it like a protective cloak. My lies were comfortable. They protected me from the scrutiny and criticism of those around me. As long as I guarded them with shame, I was not required to be vulnerable or expose my insecurities.

I am learning through theophostic prayer that truth most effectively penetrates when I hear it straight from the Lord. I can tell myself the truth, hear it from others, even from scripture, and still fight to remember it, remind myself of it, believe it. But when He speaks directly to the lies it becomes an encounter by which I experience truth, never failing to leave me transformed. Just days before I debuted my OneWord the Lord spoke this over me:

Your body is good. You do not have to hide when I am your covering. As the vessel, you do not choose how I shape you. You do not need the approval of man. You are mine and require only my approval. I shaped you according to my delight. Gold may change its form, but that does not change its worth.

///

The dawn of the new year, the first day of Naked, I dressed in front of my bathroom mirror.  I looked up, still leaning over my sink with water droplets running down my face and neck and observed my unclothed body, tracing my reflection to my eyes. They filled with tears, realization dawning that I did not examine myself with the typical repulsion. Rather, I sought out positive features and persuaded myself that I can be beautiful, just as I am. I began to laugh with pure joy. The shift in my thought process came entirely without pre-meditation, requiring no setup, reminder, or self-coaching. The way I see myself is transforming because His truth was applied to my heart. The first day of the year of Naked, He gave me the gift of loving my body.

It came just in time.

“I want to unfold. Let nothing in me hold itself closed. For where I am closed, I am false. I want to be clear in your sight.” – Rilke 

This post was prompted by this quote from Story Sessions

Read the rest of the “Going Bare” series here

 

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13 thoughts on “Going Bare: Undressed and Unashamed

  1. Oh Rebekah, I would love to have coffee or tea with you! I went through Theophostics training, as well, many years ago. There’s nothing so powerful as Truth spoken by God right into our heart. Layer by layer. There’s so much truth and beauty here! Thank you, so much, dear heart!

  2. This is my holy discontent, that humans do not see the beautiful masterpieces that they are… That I don’t. That you don’t. It is a tragedy.

    I imagine someone walking by The David sculpture or an original painting by Monet and spitting at it. Imagining someone walking by and saying, “That’s disgusting. Why did he make it like that?” God must be heartbroken that we hate the bodies he gave us.

    Anywaaaaay. This issue makes my heart race because with God it might just be possible for our generation to make giant steps towards seeing our naked selves as beautiful. Maybe our daughters will walk with love and joy in what God gave them.

    Thank you for writing this and for your series!

    • “This is my holy discontent, that humans do not see the beautiful masterpieces that they are… That I don’t. That you don’t. It is a tragedy.” YES.

      God must be heartbroken, indeed. Especially because we are his image bearers. I want to change that, beginning with me. And I hope with you that our daughters (and sons!) will learn love for the image they bear.

      Thank you for reading!

    • Grace, I wish so much that I had the magic words that would make you believe in your beauty. It’s damn near impossible to convince yourself. But Jesus words do not return void. Praying that you hear and believe. You are beautiful.

  3. So well written. So inspiring. How can God love us if we don’t love ourselves. So much good could be done if we just rationalized our body image problems. we are all beautiful in our own way, God made us like that.

  4. Rebekah, I love this. The idea that mirrors can make us larger — in the best sense and reflect back more than just a mere image. I’ve had some theophositic training as well and am glad to see you reference it :). Thanks for linking up!! Amy

  5. The ability to love ourselves as we are is such a gift! What a challenge for yourself this year! And God’s grace has met you right there – a tremendous testimony! Thank you for sharing!

  6. ‘But when He speaks directly to the lies it becomes an encounter by which I experience truth, never failing to leave me transformed.’ …… beautifully put – I know so much what you mean. It stops being about us trying to change, but simply ‘being’ changed. I often think about the craziness of trying to reduce our bodies through weight loss ( when it is not necessary) – because it means that we want there to be less of ourselves!! That seems to me to be so contrary to God’s plan – he wants us to just be ourselves, and be more ourselves in him 🙂

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