Friday, June 25, 2010

Showing Some Skin

Last Sunday I found myself lunging after the baby, who had wiggled free of the Sumo-acrobatic small-package I employ to dress her every morning. As I reached and wrestled I thought of a parenting book I had read last year where a superior mom had trained her babies, from birth, to hold still while she changed them. She explained how she had strategically taught them patience and obedience through the daily ritual of dressing. If I ever I chance to see that woman, I will leap over hedges and duck tricycles to give her a high-five. I will be able to do this because, while my baby has not learned patience, I have had excellent daily flexibility and speed training.

Mister overheard me as I scolded, “Little baby, you cannot be naked for church.” And he added, “Yes. You can’t be naked at church because nobody wants to see anyone else naked.” Wow. True enough to sting a little, not because our church is exceptionally pious or hypocritical. But it is made up of people, and we are all wary of showing our wrinkles, rolls and scars. And nobody want to be ‘that guy’: you know, the one who steps from the shower at the gym and starts telling you about the fungus he picked up in the war forty years ago that just wont go away. So we clean up, straighten up and head out the door.

And we miss it: the beautiful opportunities to really get to know each other and carry one another over the hills and through the dark valleys. Yes, we want to clothe ourselves with Christ, but before we can put on something new, we have to take off something old, and inevitably that requires showing a little skin. And skin can tell stories. Freckles. Stretch marks. Scars from accidents and scars from surgeries. Rashes. Birthmarks.

And when we really look and listen, peering down into another’s soul, we find versions of ourselves. Our own needs and hurts and dreams offered as gifts by the brave among us who open their scroll. Jewels of intimacy. Glimpses of God. Stories that remind us to link arms as we walk.

“Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” Romans 12:10 (Msg)

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