My children like to do “nakey dances.” And there is very little that brings me as much joy in life as watching my two little people dance around in their birthday suits completely uninhibited, shaking their tiny bottoms and slapping their protruding bellies. Naked, and with zero shame.
So when I think of untainted, shameless Eden, what first comes to my mind is that Adam and Eve must have been the first to perfect the nakey dance.
I finally picked up a Brene Brown book recently to find out what all the fuss is about. If you haven’t heard of her, she became famous after giving this TED talk on vulnerability and has since written several books. She skirts around many Christian themes, but doesn’t seem to have an overtly spiritual message, yet applied to spiritual life, I think many of her concepts could revolutionize the community of the church. Here are a few quotes from Daring Greatly:
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world…”
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
“There are many tenets of Wholeheartedness, but at its very core is vulnerability and unworthiness; facing uncertainty, exposure and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough.”
Adam and Eve felt no shame before sin entered the world, so really there was no need for vulnerability. But after the fall, vulnerability is a ticket back to Eden because we must put everything on the line for Christ. And it is through this risk that we find we are loved utterly and completely. He looks at us as if looking at Himself, because we are made in His image. He took our shame on Himself so that we can experience delicious freedom.
While I accept this at an intellectual level and sometimes grasp it at a heart level, I also know that vulnerability does not end with me submitting myself to Jesus for salvation. It also applies to my marriage, my parenting, my friendships and the way I use my work and gifts to serve others. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Mat. 16:25).
Where is vulnerability transforming my life from a life of fear into a life of power and freedom?
In my marriage, my husband’s devotion to me makes it easy for me to be vulnerable with him. I know from experience that if I were with a different sort of man, my tendency would be to close up, protect and retreat. But even so, it is still easy to keep the deepest corners of my soul locked away, waiting for my husband to “happen” to stumble upon them. But that is not realistic. Most men do not naturally ask soul-searching questions of their wives, so I need to be willing to lay out a few treasures that are reserved for him alone.
In my parenting, fear of loving too much prevents me from being vulnerable. What if I pour myself into my role as a mother–love them TOO much–and something happens to one of my children? How would I survive?
In friendships, there is the fear that if I am vulnerable with someone, they will not reciprocate by pouring out their heart to me. Or even worse, they will never call me again. And yet Mike Mason says in Practicing the Presence of People, “Flaws form the best glue for friendship. Indeed a friendship without many shared failures will remain stilted and lame. We connect with others not primarily through our strengths, but through our weaknesses” (pg. 240). We cannot have true friendships without vulnerability.
In August of 2015, I began blogging. It was terrifying and I felt like I was standing naked in front of my friends and family to be judged and ridiculed. But instead of feeling defeated, I felt brave. Instead of feeling weak, I felt strong. I felt courageous in a way I have never felt before. And just as in marriage the nakedness gets easier the more you find you are loved and accepted not in spite of your imperfections, but because of them, being accepted for who I am as a writer has empowered me to keep writing.
Where is God calling you to be vulnerable this year? In a relationship? A new venture? A job change with less pay? A creative gift that you have shelved?
Pray for the strength to be vulnerable. Never accept vulnerability as weakness, because moving forward and risking exposure takes amazing bravery and courage.
If you want to return to Eden, ask that God remove your shame through Jesus so that you can dance the freedom of the nakey dance in every sphere of your life. It is a dance that is full of joy and delight in being accepted for who you are. Believe that you are a beloved child of God, extravagantly loved. Excessively loved. Be free, my dear. And put some new part of yourself on the line this year, something that requires just a bit of courage.
In what area of your life is God calling you to be more vulnerable?