Few things make us feel more vulnerable than being naked.
Without covering, we’re exposed and often invaded by feelings of fear, weakness, and worry—susceptible to the winds and whims of humanity. We long to hide. Our desire to “run for cover” is not new. It began in the garden and has continued ever since.
Really, it isn’t the nakedness that pains us but the shame we carry when we are threadbare.
Life is scarring; as my dad has said, “We’ve all been shot.” We want to hide those wounds, whether they be physical, emotional, relational, or spiritual. With the wave of a wand, we want our wounds to wither and be swept away by the hot winds. But they don’t and won’t, so we live a bit at odds with ourselves.
We aren’t comfortable in our own skin, so we try to dress up and appear capable.
There’s a better solution.
God Is Capable . . . We Are Not
Actually, it’s not really about physical skin but about the wrappings of our soul, isn’t it? When we realize we are incapable—stripped down, so to speak—life is often a tethered tug-of-war for congruence, to have one’s inner and outer life share the same reality.
I was reminded of this when I was texting a caregiver who feeds, bathes, wipes, and dresses a disabled young man. I asked how things were going, and the caregiver replied:
“I felt really conflicted with how God sees my sins as I see how incapable he [the young man with disabilities] is. When I finished bathing him, I just felt this immense compassion toward him because he was not able to do it himself . . .”
I texted back:
“Allow the tears to fall. . . . God reveals in these moments a deep truth—His overwhelming compassion toward us. We are truly unable . . . this is what being human looks like.”
We want to be so capable, yet life reminds us we are in many ways incapable.
- We long for happiness, and in clutching for it, we become miserable—discontented and focused on what isn’t rather than what is.
- In the pursuit of justice, we become intolerant, angry “advocates” for rights that were never ours to begin with.
- The pursuit of peace is often interrupted by human passions that leave us divided and despondent.
- We run from pain, question its presence, then question the one who allowed it. And our focus becomes so skewed, we are blinded to the truths that will set us free.
Bathing, clothing, wiping, dressing, and caring for one who would otherwise be naked isn’t something to resent but to honor. As we wipe the feet of those in need, we are wiping the feet of Christ.
And isn’t that what He did before He was stripped and hung on a cross? Why then do we run from our real selves? Why do scars scare us and wounds worry us? Where is the church for those who are stripped of self-sufficiency when, in fact, no one is sufficient according to Christ’s truth?
As Christians striving for congruence, comfort in our own skin, and the ability to accept another’s wrappings, we need to embody three core qualities. The first is grace, the second is kindness, and the third is compassion.
- Grace means having the capacity to embrace another—to forgive because of Christ’s forgiveness of us.
- Kindness comes from accepting our naked selves, our forgiven souls, and lighting the way, holding the hand, wiping the feet of another. It is clothing one in righteousness because Christ has clothed us in His righteousness.
- Compassion means extending gentleness, authentic empathy, and tender mercies to another, regardless of their skin or scars or soul failures.
Let Me Hear from You
Would others say you are kind? Do you hold another’s hand or toss them aside with a sharp, harsh tone? Are you gracious to the crying baby, the hurting parent, the lost soul? Are you compassionate toward those who cannot do for themselves?
How would you respond to the following?
“Will you allow the tears to fall for your own brokenness . . . for what you cannot do for yourself? Congruence brings peace. Your scars are okay. If you are a Christ-follower, Christ, in His glory, has already covered you in forgiveness and clothed you with His grace. Are you bathing others with grace, kindness, and compassion?”
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