When I was in high school, I took my first mission trip. After landing in Guatemala, the missionaries gave us an overview of the base. They instructed us there would be armed guards walking the grounds at night. These armed guards would also have dobermans trained to eat intruders. Ok, don’t leave the suites after 9PM. Got it.
Lock down was no problem for me. The thing I struggled with was an almost passing comment by the missionaries — “Oh, and don’t touch the shower spout when the water is running. You’ll get electrocuted.” That sounds serious. The last thing I want to happen is to die by electrocution IN THE SHOWER.
That’s in my top fives ways I would prefer NOT to die. Other ways I’d prefer not to die (like I have a choice in the matter) include: participating in a blow up obstacle course during a children’s camp, being eaten by a bear (my dad has a great story about this fear “almost” being realized) and anything having to do with snakes.
After hearing about the shower situation, I contemplated whether I could go ten straight days without a shower. Considering a large portion of the trip would include manual labor I didn’t think that would be my best option. What if I wore my bathing suit to shower? Then I remembered that bathing suits seem to keep dirt in, which anyone who has visited a beach can testify to the truth of that statement. Instead, I decided I’d shower hunched over and as quickly as possible. No one was going to find me dead in the shower. Over 15 years later, I’m still alive so I must have showered correctly.
As I was thinking about this fear of mine today, I was wondering what the big deal would be about being found dead. And naked. I mean, its not like I’d be embarrassed at that point. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized it had to deal with the fact that I’d be exposed. No way to hide.
Sadly, I’ve lived a lot of my life trying to figure out how to cover up. If people see this flaw, this imperfection, this struggle then they won’t love me anymore. If they know who I really am they wouldn’t want to be my friend. Or let’s take it a step further, if I’m really honest maybe God won’t love me. Maybe that will be the last straw.
Adam and Eve understand this thinking. After all, they were the ones who were tempted by the devil to eat fruit from the tree that God forbade them to eat from. Following their afternoon snack, the realized they were naked. Better cover up was their first thought– interesting, right? Maybe if I hide this mess up with some leaves God won’t notice. The proverbial “put some dirt on it” mentality.
Yet, here I am caught in this constant struggle to be genuine and open and yet knowing that there are areas more acceptable to have shortcomings in. The areas more openly talked about. The areas with less shame attached. You start talking about struggles with masturbation, addictions to Facebook or other social networks, gluttony, etc. and people start backing away slowly. That OTHER person has to deal with those struggles. Not me.
Who are we trying to fool? Our friends? Our family? God? Ourselves? Sure. All of them. The truth is there are people who will stop loving you if things get too messy. If they see something they don’t like. You may even struggle with self hatred– being repulsed by your own reflection in the mirror. That’s not how God works though.
We get stuck thinking we need to clean ourselves up before we present ourselves to God. Let me deal with this crap because I wouldn’t want God getting His hands dirty. That’s all a lie. And its keeping us bound up in sin, when Jesus has brought redemption, holiness and cleansing of our sins.
A few Sundays ago, I heard a friend preaching about this idea of holiness. People often ask– “How can God see me as holy?” (I know, right?!?!) But he mentioned that God saw Jesus, as He hung on the cross as a man full of sin even though Jesus had committed no sin. And in that act of Jesus taking our sin, that God can now view us (sinful man) as holy. Boggles my mind.
All of my sin, brokenness, areas I’d rather cover– Jesus took upon Himself so I could be viewed as holy. No longer needing to concoct ways to cover up or hide from Him because He already dealt with it and all I need to do is walk in it.