From the age of about 10, I have been able to catalogue every fault that has appeared on my body. I know the location of each misplaced freckle, bulge of skin, and stretch mark. I know that my legs are too short, my waist is too long, my arms lacking in definition.
My belly is something that has not been seen in polite company for 14 years and will likely never see the light of day again. And like the craters of the moon, I have named my most distasteful wrinkles and each nasty inche of cellulite.
Here is the Sea of Fattitude, there is the Double Chin of Doom….
I cover my face in makeup every day. Yes it is a mask and, yes, it hides my vulnerabilities. It also feeds my vanity and like a good suit of armour, it gives me a false sense of security. A sharp sword wielded by a women’s magazine or red carpet event on TV and I am laid out again, reminded that I do not measure up and, as middle age makes its inevitable advance, never will again.
Despite my physical faults, like all humans, I crave intimacy – true intimacy. Not sex, although that is certainly a fine thing to crave and has it’s place in the world of human interaction.
What I crave is acceptance and a level of trust that proves that despite all of my many faults, I am still perfect, I am still worthy, I am still desirable.
I want to be wanted, cellulite and all.
I want to believe, deep in my soul, that if I get knocked down, someone cares enough about me to pick me back up and put me on my feet again. I want to know that I’ll always have someone in my corner, ready to help me fight when I am right, and nurse my wounds when I am wrong.
I want to feel what it’s like to be loved unconditionally. No strings attached. No expectations. Just love.
But here is the thing with intimacy. Unless you bear it all – take off all of your clothes and stand there, not in the soft glow of romance but in the harsh light of reality, you may have something else, but it won’t be intimate. The foundation of intimacy is trust and if you can’t fully trust, you will never have true intimacy.
Intimacy is making love with the lights on and your clothes in a pile on the floor, with nothing between you and your beloved but the space of a few fingers.
It is quite possibly one of the scariest things we will ever do. We risk rejection, humiliation, and confirmation of our deepest fears about our lack of worth. We risk being alone, forsaken, kicked to the proverbial garbage pile of life.
This kind of vulnerability is almost too much to think about.
I realized recently that when it comes to intimacy, I’ve been deluding myself for a long time. I had never put the words “intimate” and “God” in the same sentence. And then I read a line from Brian D. McLaren’s book “Naked Spirituality”.
He said something like, “in order to get intimate with God, you have to get naked…”
I almost cried.
I’ve wanted an intimate relationship with God for a long time. My whole life, in fact. But I have always been afraid…of baring it all, owning up to and owning all of my shit. I don’t want to look at it, I don’t want to think about it and I sure as hell don’t want to show it to anyone else.
But until I do, until I get naked and stand before God in the cold, hard light of reality, I’ll never have the relationship that I want.
I’ve kept so many secrets….
The funny thing is, God knows them all and isn’t bothered. I’m the one
who is freaked out about it. I am the one who is preventing this relationship from going to the next level. I am the one hiding behind a mask, suiting up in my armour, and going into the Battle of Life on my own.
But I don’t have to.
I could trust.
I thought I did. But when I read that line I realized I’ve been in denial for a long time. I’ve been covering up my imperfections under a layer of make up and hiding behind one set of clothes after another, trying this outfit on, trading it in for that other one over there.
For the last few years, this plan hasn’t worked out too well. I think God is tired of waiting for me. Like an impatient lover, he’s taken to stripping each layer off, first my shoes, then my coat, then my sweater…
Minus the metaphors, what this actually means is that despite my best efforts, I have lost a lot of things – my career as a lawyer, my house, my family across the sea.
I have tried to hide behind each of these things so God wouldn’t see the real me. Each one was like a shield, keeping me from seeing myself for who I really am, which is hurt, vulnerable and alone: you can’t hurt me, I’m a lawyer; I am not vulnerable because I live in a nice house; I am not alone because I am part of a big family….
Then I was told by other lawyers I wasn’t cut out to be one of them, my home turned out to be a house of horrors, and my family has suffered death and disease until I do not recognize them any more.
I am more vulnerable than I have ever been in my life. It feels like I have been abandoned.
I feel stripped bare. Exposed.
Jesus was naked on the cross. There was nothing between him and God. He was vulnerable. The Jews said he wasn’t fit to be one of them anymore, he endured lashings and humiliations and a crown of thorns. The guards who crucified him took his clothes and traded them to each other.
He had nothing left.
And in his nakedness and vulnerability, a miracle occurred.
I also feel naked.
And maybe that’s the point.
Are you naked and vulnerable? What sustains you? Leave a comment….