Barbara Backer-Gray wrote a lovely piece yesterday on being thankful for her blogging friends. She graciously mentioned me, and I’d like her to know how thankful I am for her, too. This season of my life is nothing less than a 100% total transformation, and I deeply appreciate her faithful support. All of you are pivotal in my growth. Until my dying day I will hold each of you in highest regard and think of you with tenderness and warmth.
Her post got me thinking. As I stood wrapping my coat tighter around my body, being misted by the tiny water droplets that were springing from the leaves, I thought about how naked we stand before each other. And, I thought about how many layers of coverings we wear before those we see face to face every day.
My children spent all day yesterday with an old friend. She home schools her boys, too, and welcomed my brood into their day and their home while I worked. The kids diligently finished their work and then played video games, built things with toys, and played flashlight hide and seek. We had a wonderful, homey dinner of moist chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, French bread, salad, iced tea, and mud cake. The six kids, four dogs, and oversize cat intermittently bounded through the house and collapsed on couches.
At 10 o’clock her husband excused himself to go to bed. B and I had been visiting and had absolutely no idea it was so late! My homebody children didn’t want to leave, and my daughter has insisted that we need to live with this family.
The warmth of their home and their hospitality aren’t the real reasons we enjoy being there so much. It’s because we stand stripped bare before them, and they love us anyway.
There were years that we didn’t see them because of my rejection of her friendship. She was honest with me about my husband and my marriage, and I didn’t want to hear it. I wasn’t ready to hear it. When I got sick and thought I might be facing eternity I had to apologize to a lot of people, B being one of them. She graciously forgave me and asked forgiveness from me for being insensitive to my situation.
We’ve seen each other’s ugly emotional nakedness and don’t care. We stand stripped bare and accept each other–faults, differences, mistakes, sins, and all.
My mentor and I were an unlikely pair. We met when I was 24 and going back to school to try to “better myself.” She was from a wealthy family. She was very well educated, twenty years my senior, and a lesbian. Our politics were polar opposite. It would appear we had absolutely nothing in common. She was one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and I miss her terribly.
We simply didn’t look at the coverings each of us wore. We introduced ourselves in a bare state. We saw each other as women. Hungry, scared yet optimistic women with dreams and unfulfilled longings. Our friendship was not built on a shared belief system or common experiences. It was built upon a stripped bare sense of the humanity we saw in each other.
I stood there this morning thinking about my relationship with God, too. I thought about the ugly, dirty details of my life and what I’ve done with it and how He accepts me anyway. When Jesus walked the earth He didn’t choose the lovely, clean, religious people. He didn’t look at people and make His choices depending on their coverings. He saw right through them, stripped bare, and chose sluts and outcasts and murderers. His friendships were based upon the core of the individuals’ souls and the potential and the beauty He saw there.
Those are the relationships that are real, that are beautiful, that are transforming. That’s where all of life hangs.
It is sad that we feel like we have to cover ourselves at all before anyone. It makes me angry that there are people who tell us we need to cover ourselves or judge us when we don’t. I think I’m becoming an emotional nudist. I want to flaunt myself, stripped bare, before everyone. I want to see what others really look like under all of those layers they’ve hidden their true selves beneath.
So, thank you for allowing me to sit naked before you. Thank you for not judging me for the flaws that I’ve exposed. Thank you for accepting me anyway in spite of myself. Thank you for letting me be real with you. And, most of all, thank you for being real with me.