During the Marriage and Family Workshop in December, I taught a lesson on Purity that I was really proud of…until I went to Sister Tartt’s lesson the next night. She really laid out some things that we as younger unmarried women deal with: sin, shame, self-esteem, negative thinking, etc. During that time she issued a challenge that boggled my mind and I couldn’t imagine doing. I wasn’t the only one; as I looked around at the faces of teenagers and young ladies, I noticed that most of them didn’t exactly look like they were going to do it either.I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and wondering why I found it so hard to do this. I like a challenge. But this one…well, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? There was a period in the middle school/ high school range where I didn’t look at myself in the mirror for about three years. I saw my reflection when I washed my face, under thick white face cream, but I couldn’t really tell you what I looked like. I was suffering from a big self-esteem issue and feeling ugly. Long story short, I wrote a highly acclaimed memoir piece on it and moved on.
However, the challenge that was issued was deeper than looking in the mirror. How many of us look in the mirror and immediately zero in on every little imperfection we see? I know my eyes immediately go to my stomach. We check ourselves over looking for imperfection: do I see a wrinkle? Is that a new fat roll? My skin looks so bad. My teeth are getting yellow. I think I see cellulite. Where’s the imperfection? I have to find and sigh over the imperfection.
This attitude can creep into many aspects of our lives, until we are always finding fault with ourselves and becoming stagnated. We begin to hide things we’re ashamed of rather than dealing with them. It’s almost as if we get some sick enjoyment out of taking our insecurities out and sighing over them. We wonder why things don’t change no matter what we try, when deep down we know that we have so much we are so busy hiding, we are too weighed down to make any progress.
As I was reading in Genesis, I came across the phrase “naked and unashamed.” Most commentaries point out the implications of this sexually–the establishment of the institution of marriage and how sexuality can be freely expressed within it. But what stood out to me this time I read it was the fact that when they heard God, they hid because they were naked; I highly doubt that God was going to walk up on the en flagrante, so I can only conclude that after the fall, they began to associate their nakedness, their exposure, with something to be ashamed of, to be hidden. They couldn’t be exposed and vulnerable before God anymore; they were afraid.
Nakedness makes you vulnerable. When I’m wearing clothes, I can choose a cute top that camouflages my stomach and emphasizes my chest, or wear jeans that cover the cellulite. When I am hiding insecurities, I can put on a know it all attitude or emphasize my strengths. But there’s something about being naked and not having anything to hide behind that cleanses the palate, allows you to wipe away what you used to be and the guilt or shame associated with it. Now you can start anew to rebuild.
Are you willing to get naked with yourself, to become vulnerable and really see who you really are behind all of the artifice? If so, join me in taking the Naked Challenge! You can join by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or linking to this post. In the introduction post, you will find the general guidelines to the challenge. However, let me state this guideline here as well for emphasis: the main component to the challenge DOES require actual physical nakedness, but there is NO need for anyone else to see that. Please do NOT post any naked pictures of yourself anywhere in association with this challenge.
Remember, you can find the challenge exercises on the Naked & Not Ashamed page on this blog. I hope you’ll join me!