Naked Shame? or Very Good

There is at least one common picture in every family’s photo album. Or as many common pictures as children in the family. It is the inevitable bathroom picture.

imagesA pink, pudgy child, below the age of shame, plays in the tub, blissfully ignorant of Daddy’s camera. If not ignorant, simply unaffected by the potential shame in that microsecond flash of light. Bubbles cling to smooth, clean skin. A dollop of suds perches atop a curly head, like a white crown. The little girl is joyfully convinced that her royalty is unmarred by nakedness. Or, the tiny self-imagined cowboy remains undaunted by his immodesty. And Daddy grins with pride at the innocence and perfection.

It might remain that way. If the little girl were never exposed to any opinion but that of her father and mother. If the only people whoever judged her nakedness were those who created her together, who bore her in their loins and pushed her into this critical world. But it won’t be that way.

The boy might remain proud of every inch of his natural physique, if he only internalized his parents’ admiration. If only he was never told, “You should look like this…,” or, “You could be more perfect. You’re lacking something.”

When did naked become a problem? 

God created Adam and Eve in His own perfect image. He bore them, and brought them to life by His own exhale. And He thought they were perfect. He knew their frame. He knew they were dust and He knew they were good. They were exactly as He intended.

And what if they had never entertained the voice that said, You could be more? You are lacking.

When God entered the garden after Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they had already scrambled to cover themselves. Then they hid from their Creator, dearest Love, most Faithful Companion. The first moment earth knew shame. The first time a woman cowered in humiliation from the longing eyes of her lover. 

But they had been naked before. God had seen them naked. They had gazed at each other naked. It was obvious they had been made in God’s image. They looked like His children. So why were they ashamed? What were they afraid of?

Adam and Eve’s sin was not that they were naked. In fact, I think God’s greatest disappointment was that his children listened to, entertained and believed the serpent’s opinion of them over His own. Essentially, with their choice to eat the fruit, Adam and Eve were demonstrating that they did not believe God. They did not believe that He was a perfect creator. They did not believe that God had made them VERY GOOD.

Just like the child in the bathtub, they would have grown up seeing that they looked just like Daddy. And they would have grown in the assurance that they were VERY GOOD.

How do you overcome the shame surrounding your body, your failure, your insufficiencies? Is it possible to ever again be VERY GOOD to God? If so, is it possible to ever be convinced in your own mind that you are VERY GOOD? Can you ever return to the way it was?

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-19

Through the means of a couple of pastors lately, unrelated and in their own sermons, God has posed this question to me, “Who told you you were fat?”

Quite a provoking question to ask a recovering anorexic. Who told me I was fat? Where did I get that idea? How do I silence that voice, turn and drink in the voice of a God who calls me VERY GOOD? Permit me a paraphrase of the verses above:

So, from now on, I will regard no one (including myself) as fat or ugly or worthless. Because I believe in Jesus Christ, everything bad about me is gone. He has created me all over, and again and made me VERY GOOD! All this is from God, who brought me back to Him, restored me to my original mint condition and to His favor. Because of Jesus, I am perfect in Christ and I am given this responsibility, no, this JOY, of telling the world that Jesus has restored us. Shame has no influence over those who believe their Daddy.


Beloved Entertainer

Granddad was a natural entertainer.  He didn’t burst into “Singing in the Rain,” or any other musical themes.  He didn’t quote lines from famous movies.  I never saw him dance a step – except at my sisters’ weddings.

Granddad refused to let anyone be bored.  If there wasn’t something fun to be doing, he could find a chore for you.  I will never forget the afternoon my sisters and I spent on our dirty, kid knees scrubbing the grout in my mother’s kitchen with a toothbrush.  When we finished it was almost white and all along I had thought it was a dingy mauve.

Granddad had a knack for making work fun.  However, “work shed” is a misnomer from a child’s perspective.  When I was young, every trip to Grandma’s house involved a trip to the work shed.  There Granddad had screaming saws, tubes and buckets of paint, yard tools and dangerously sticky substances that we were not allowed to touch.

A few years before, the work shed’s space had been a carport for Granddad and Grandma’s RV.  What a fantastic invention – traveling in your home!  I vowed once that I would never marry, but grow up, get a German shepherd and travel the country in my RV finding work when necessary.  When Granddad and Grandma parted with their RV, I somehow forgot about its magic, and that dream faded.

One specific project of mine that emerged from the work shed was a little wooden dog.  It was so thin that it was almost two dimensional.  It had long, floppy ears.  Granddad carved it for me on the circular saw, turning the fine piece of wood with great dexterity following lines that only an artist like Granddad could draw freehand.  Afterwards, he set me up on a bar stool, close to his workbench.  With a palette of acrylic paints before be, I got busy adding the puppy’s eyes and paws and selecting his spots.  In the meantime, the master creator began to work on my sisters’ projects.

I never saw Granddad read anything except the newspaper.  But he loved a good story.  Grandma had a library of heart-warming novels that she packed on every road trip or read a few lines before bedtime.  She also read their daily devotional out loud.  One of the mysteries of my grandparents is that I never saw one without the other.  They thought the same, loved the same – the definition of persons completing each other.

Granddad and Grandma had an array of movies.  To this day, I don’t know how many DVDs they have.  We always watched “Winnie the Pooh” and “Mary Poppins” and “Meet Me in St. Louis,” on an old-fashioned VCR.  For regular shows, Granddad followed Star Trek with some regularity.  I fancied myself a fan, though I never saw an episode in between visits to my grandparents’ house.

One Christmas, Uncle Richard gave Granddad a book of Calvin and Hobbs comic strips.  Somehow, someone decided that Granddad loved it and wanted to collect all of the commemorative editions.  I don’t know that Granddad ever read one, but for at least two years, I read and re-read them every time we visited.  I loved to sit in the glider rocker, in the sunroom and ignore my suddenly “immature” siblings.

The quintessential way to pass time with Granddad always involved a deck of cards.  At their house, we learned to play Cribbage and Rummy and Spades and a game with a bad-word name that we re-named “Oh P-shaw!”  Otherwise, we could pull out the dominoes or poker chips or dice.  Picking a long game was a sure way to stay up late at Granddad’s house.