It takes two to tango.
We’ve heard this before, and it makes sense. You can’t dance a dance meant for two people with only one person. (Yes, I am brilliant.)
Which leads me to my next question, which is actually part 2 of my hypothesis about nudity:
Does it take two to be nude?
Alright, alright, so I know a hypothesis has to be a statement (declarative sentence) and not a question (interrogative sentence), but I’m actually still sorting this out. Therefore, I’ve made part 2 of my hypothesis more of an inquiry into possibilities.
So let’s say it DOES take 2 to be nude. After all, Adam and Eve together were naked and not ashamed in the Garden. There were 2 of them, not just one of them.
Here’s a story to illustrate and perhaps get us closer to what I’m really trying to say:
I was at a leadership meeting the other day with some very wonderful and imperfect people whom I love and have chosen to commit to. But as I sat there in the meeting I was overcome with this deep desire to just…be real. And honest. And nude.
Sitting there, I realized that I didn’t really know most of them—that I knew things about them, I knew surface personalities, giftings, strengths, weaknesses…but I hardly knew any of their stories…the grit and glory stuff that made up the substance of them. Their dreams. Hopes, victories, fears, thoughts, opinions, values…did they grow up decorating Christmas trees and having Easter Sunday brunch? Did they like to use one or two dryer sheets per load? What was the first thing they did that morning after waking up? Fart? Pick their nose? Drink water?
Granted, I know that this getting-to-know-the-real-you doesn’t happen overnight, but that it happens as people are in relationship with each other over time. But that’s just it…I could spend a lifetime with someone and only just scratch the surface of knowing who s/he is, so why make the process even harder by putting up walls and fronts?
I found myself, in that moment sitting on the floor in this circle of people who were all dreaming a beautiful dream that God had birthed in our hearts, wanting to rid myself of surface relationships with them. I didn’t want to front anymore about who I was, and I didn’t want our knowledge of each other be limited to just who I was as a leader or who they were as leaders.
I wanted more.
I wanted us all to be free enough to be nude in front of each other. Partly because I knew the dream we were dreaming could only work in a reality of Better-than-Eden. And partly because I was so tired of laboring under labels, positions, appropriateness, unnecessary protocol and cultural customs.
So I bared my heart, lowered the wall, the veil, the front, and gave everyone a glimpse of my insides. I took a chance and shared about the breaking of pride, the humility, the desire for open and honest community, the love I had for each person there…the hope that was stirring in me for being a community where the fullness of God’s presence and person could dwell…where we felt safe enough to confess our hurts toward each other without taking or giving offense, where we felt secure enough to just be ourselves, fully ourselves. I opened my mouth and…
… was met with silence…and inscrutable stares, for about ten, fifteen, twenty seconds…then finally, FINALLY one person squeaked, “We love you too.” Oh bless her.
So, objectively speaking, it didn’t really end too badly.
But afterward, I felt so…exposed. I felt as though I had put out the tender nude nerves of my heart and instead of them being covered they were left hanging out in the open, sensitive and vulnerable. It was saying “I love you” to someone for the first time and s/he just staring back with, “uh…huh–that–that’s great, really.”
I was a little bit deflated because, seriously, tango does not work with just one person.
Which leads to another question–what if someone or a bunch of someones just doesn’t want that same normal nudity that you do? Or, more sadly, doesn’t want to tango with you?
You can’t force a person or bunch of persons to take off his/her/their layers anymore than you can force them to be honest. That just ain’t real.
I suppose I just have to commit to waiting until we all arrive fully at the place where we can be normal/nude. Even if it means there’ll be awkward moments, embarrassing episodes, lots of feeling vulnerable and exposed, and no guarantees that taking a risk and peeling back the layers will be reciprocated.
In the end, what matters is what Jesus thinks~and He thinks we’re so dang worth it.
1. having no clothing; naked
2. permitting or featuring full exposure of the body
1. an unclothed human figure, especially an artistic representation
2. the condition of being unclothed
1. having no clothing on the body; nude
2. having no covering, especially the usual one
3. devoid of vegetation, trees, or foliage
4. being without addition, concealment, disguise or embellishment
5. devoid of a specified quality, characteristic, or element
6. exposed to harm; vulnerable
we want someone to see us exactly as we are and still love us… being naked is terrifying…to pursue being naked, you have to believe that this person is worth getting to know for the rest of your lives…being naked is peeling back the layers, conversation after conversation, experience after experience, year after year…
–Rob Bell, “Sex God”