I just read a post on this blog. I've only skimmed it but it brought tears to my eyes and as soon as I've got this post done I'm going to print it out (yes, I'm old-school-can't read anything of value on a computer screen) and read it word-for-word. Probably several times today and then over the next few weeks I'll come back to it. That's all the introduction I'm writing.
Easter is about grace. And when I think about grace, one of the things that stops me short of believing in it is shame. This post, written last year, is about shame and grace and the reason we’re not naked.
I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty awesome at applying band-aids. And make no mistake, there is an art. Because if you go too quickly and peel them the wrong way, they stick to themselves and you end up with a wadded up useless mess instead of the Little Mermaid festooned bandage your daughter so desperately wants to apply to a boo boo that may in fact be 100% fictional.
Half of the injuries I treat at the Acuff house are invisible or simply wounds of sympathy. My oldest daughter will scrape her knee and my 3-year old, realizing the band aid box is open will say, “Yo dad, I’d like to get in on that too. What do you say we put one on, I don’t know, my ankle. Yeah, my ankle, let’s pretend that’s hurt.”
But sometimes the cuts are real, like the day my 5-year old got a scrape on her face playing in the front yard. I rushed in the house and returned with a princess bandage. As I bent down to apply it to her forehead, her eyes filled up with tears and she shrunk back from me.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I don’t want to wear that band-aid.” She replied.
“Why? You have a cut, you need a band-aid.” I said.
“I’ll look silly.” She answered.
Other than her sister and her mom, there was no one else in the yard. None of her friends were over, cars were not streaming passed our house and watching us play, the world was pretty empty at that moment. But for the first time I can remember, she felt shame. She had discovered shame. Somewhere, some how, this little 5 year old had learned to be afraid of looking silly. If I was smarter, if I had been better prepared for the transition from little toddler to little girl, I might have asked her this:
“Who told you that you were silly?”
I didn’t though. That question didn’t bloom in my head until much later and I didn’t understand it until I saw God ask a similar question in Genesis 3:11. To me, this is one of the saddest and most profoundly beautiful verses in the entire Bible. Adam and Eve have fallen. The apple is a core. The snake has spoken. The dream appears crushed. As they hide from God under clothes they’ve hastily sewn together, He appears and asks them a simple question:
“Who told you that you were naked?”
There is hurt in God’s voice as He asks this question, but there is also a deep sadness, the sense of a father holding a daughter that has for the first time ever, wrapped herself in shame.
Who told you that you were not enough?
Who told you that I didn’t love you?
Who told you that there was something outside of me you needed?
Who told you that you were ugly?
Who told you that your dream was foolish?
Who told you that you would never have a child?
Who told you that you would never be a father?
Who told you that you weren’t a good mother?
Who told you that without a job you aren’t worth anything?
Who told you that you’ll never know love again?
Who told you that this was all there is?
Who told you that you were naked?
I don’t know when you discovered shame. I don’t know when you discovered that there were
people that might think you are silly or dumb or not a good writer or a husband or a friend. I don’t know what lies you’ve been told by other people or maybe even by yourself.
But in response to what you are hearing from everyone else, God is still asking the question, “Who told you that you were naked?”
And He’s still asking us that question because we are not.
In Christ we are not worthless.
In Christ we are not hopeless.
In Christ we are not dumb or ugly or forgotten.
In Christ we are not naked.
Isaiah 61:10 it says:
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.
The world may try to tell you a thousand different things today. You might close this post and hear a million declarations of what you are or who you’ll always be, but know this.
As unbelievable as it sounds and as much as I never expected to type this sentence on this blog:
You are not naked.