Going Bare: Uncovering

My friends know that my word for the year is “Naked.” Consequently, I have gotten several text messages, emails, pins, and tweets sent to me with things that relate to it. (I welcome these!) It’s been interesting to receive them because I’m getting a wide perspective of how my friends see nakedness. “Naked” can be funny, or beautiful, or poignant and vulnerable. It can cause us to hide, or draw us out of the darkness. Nakedness can be literal or figurative or both. And sometimes the intangible forms of it feel more real than what we see and touch.

Almost every definition of the word “naked” speaks of being without a covering in some form. I think this is telling. What is it about nakedness that makes us want to cover up? Is it an instinctual reflex? There are few among us who would not immediately reach for something with which to cover ourselves if we were happened upon in our nakedness, even by those whom we most love and trust. Why do we do this? Is it actually instinct, or is this learned behavior? How do our coverings serve us? What are they protecting? And why?

mychainsaregone.orgCertainly coverings serve a purpose to protect us from harsh elements and from those with intent to harm us. But I am questioning the widely accepted axiom that lacking a covering – whether it is emotional, physical, or spiritual  – is anything short of immoral.  This was my starting point.  Equating nakedness with immorality, I  learned to judge harshly those who did not share my view of “modesty.” I condescended people who wore their hearts on their sleeves, showed a little too much skin, or claimed to follow Christ while unattached to a tangible authority. If you were “uncovered” in any way, you lost credibility in my eyes.  Not any longer. I am learning to recognize this view for the judgment that it is instead of the foundational truth I once thought it to be.

This year, I’ve spent quite a bit of time contemplating nakedness and all the forms it takes. I am coming to see that there are contexts in which being uncovered is appropriate and even necessary: in friendship, for intimacy (emotional, physical and spiritual), or even for the simple sake of beauty.

Uncovering is often necessary for healing to take place. Sunshine, it is said, is the best disinfectant. But many, myself included, find this quite difficult.  We have learned to associate uncovering with shame and contempt. Abuse damages the purity of exposure. It teaches us that to be uncovered is to be violated, to be judged as we have judged. For many, the beauty of uncovering is marred when we are robbed of the choice to reveal.

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I recently got this text from a dear friend who was thinking about my word:

“I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.”  Psalm 32:5 …

‘I did not cover my iniquity’ = being naked and raw before God.

Selah.

I let the words sink into me and spent the afternoon pondering how confession is related to uncovering. Having grown up in the church, I understand that God is omniscient; He sees it all. Fulfilling the law of unintended consequences, this has always been a great source of fear for me.  I came to expect His punishment around every corner. But David the Psalmist doesn’t seem to share that fear. In his prayer, he was compelled to uncover. To be naked and raw, and this wasn’t the first time.

There is something significant in uncovering; becoming naked in confession before the God who created us. But it’s hard, isn’t it? I often hesitate because I have carried the same judgments I held about uncovering in every other part of life into my relationship with Him. I would dare say that the shame, contempt, and fear of exposure is even greater with God than it is with humans. Cognitively, I know that He has no unforeseen revelation in my nakedness, but that does little to reassure me. So, patiently and knowingly, He waits until I know that I am safe.  He does this for all of us.  He does not violate us by forcefully removing our covering. He wants to be invited into our trust.

A few nights ago, He asked me to talk to Him. Somehow, I’d forgotten that I had a choice to do that. Desperately, but willingly I opened my mouth and the words came pouring out, speaking into existence everything He already knew. I bared myself, confessing the worst of my judgments, the fears and lies I have believed. God did not shy away from me. He who formed me told me that He has redeemed me, called me by name, and I am His. He reminded me that I am precious in His eyes, and that He loves me. Nothing that I uncovered caused Him to turn away.

There’s something beautiful in knowing that we can bare ourselves before Him without shame. It is like a little taste of the intimacy of Eden. I am learning that the uncovering of nakedness is not a consequence or a punishment. We are invited to approach the Throne of Grace with confidence, completely without shame. It is not an obligation or requirement. We will not be rejected. He is waiting to embrace us, with open arms. We are invited to join Him in the garden, but to do so requires us to be vulnerable.

This kind of vulnerability reveals beauty, fosters intimacy, and brings healing through uncovering. It’s not something to be afraid of. And it’s worth it.

{The image above came from MyChainsAreGone.org – a website that has been integral in the transformation of my thinking as I’ve examined my theology on nakedness and the body. If I haven’t already linked you to the site through a conversation we’ve had, I encourage you to read it and prayerfully consider what it has to say. These truths are changing my life!}

Read the rest of the “Going Bare” series here

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4 thoughts on “Going Bare: Uncovering

  1. I love the freedom you’re receiving, Rebekah! The intimacy of the Garden of Eden is what you’re describing… how God invited you to talk to Him!!!! And you responded… that is so precious… it moves my heart deeply!

  2. Standing naked and unashamed before God is truly giving yourself to Him. By accepting yourself the way you are, the way He made you you acknowledge you are His creation. God did not make a mistake when He made each one of us, He made each one of us to his own design, His own purpose, and to His own liking. Being ashamed of ourselves, of our naked bodies only says to Him that we question his work, we say to Him that it was not well done. God didn’t create shame, we did, and we did it so that we could hide from Him and from each other and serve evil in our darkness.

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