I have always hated locker rooms…
It’s just a fact of my life. There are many reasons that I hate them to be sure, but the greatest reason is that I have always been 100% TERRIFIED of nudity. I remember being a teenager and going to the YMCA with my family and there were these old men who would just walk around buck naked having conversations with each other while at the same moment, I’m trying to find the row of lockers with nobody in it and trying to change my clothes with a towel tied around my waist scared to death that someone might see what’s underneath. But where did this fear and shame come from?
To some extent I think everyone fears being naked, after all, it is our body in it’s most unprotected state. Also, I think I remember a story somewhere that talks about this man and woman who ate fruit and became ashamed of their nakedness… I can’t quite place it, but I know I’ve read it… (for anyone who doesn’t perceive sarcasm, please know that I understand that this is from the Bible.)
But even with that, I have been processing what it is that has caused me to be so full of fear in my own life.
When I was going into fourth grade my family moved from our trailer park, which had been my home all my life, to a beautiful new house. The only problem I had with the new house was that it wasn’t near my friends, besides that it was absolutely perfect! When we moved in, it was the start of the school year and I hadn’t really had any time to make friends. During the years of fourth and fifth grade, I was relentlessly bullied at school. It got so bad at one point that I developed anxiety to the point that I would tell my Mom that I was sick every day because I didn’t want to face the cruelty that awaited me. It was in that time that I stopped going outside like I used to, and I started playing by myself a lot. I would spend my time playing Pokemon on my Game Boy instead of going out and running around.
As I avoided playing outside, my weight increased, which is a very common occurrence among young people these days, and the teasing became more and more unavoidable. In this time I learned the art of self deprecation. I picked up somewhere that if I was the one to make the joke about myself and my weight that I would feel better about it than if I was just the butt of other peoples jokes. While this may have been a way to survive this time period of my life, it definitely messed up my way of thinking about myself for what has been the rest of my life from that point on.
Last year I talked about my struggle with pornography and masturbation, and I think that those struggles are also applicable to my body shaming tendencies. With all of the things I have looked at, there is no way (outside of the redeeming work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit) for me to view my body as anything but the easily tempted and corruptible part of my being. With this kind of a view of my body it has been incredibly easy to ignore the care for and stewardship of the physical body that I have.
It’s as if I believed that if nobody saw my nakedness nobody could truly know me fully.
I don’t really like vulnerability… That may seem weird to people reading this blog post which is about nakedness, and maybe even weirder to those who know me and believe me to be a vulnerable person. It is scary to let people in, and for a lot of my life I have been very skilled at letting people see what I want them to see and keeping most of myself hidden, but I don’t want this anymore. I want to face myself and the world without shame!
I have read so many articles about women who struggle with feeling beautiful enough and skinny enough and it breaks my heart to read of their struggles, but I wonder if there are men like me who also deal with this. In one book I read, the author said that she made it a priority to stand naked in front of the mirror and look at herself until she could accept the person that was staring back at her. I want this for myself. I want to be able to look at myself naked in the mirror and not hate the person I see looking back, because if I am honest hatred is what I often feel…
I want to be able to face myself and see someone who is loved, not just by others, but who I also love!
I want to feel my imperfections and love them; to know that nakedness is not simply about sexuality, but about intimacy, not just with others but also with myself and with God. To have friendships like that of David and Jonathan who laid their armor aside and allowed themselves to be fully known. But this is about more than just me, I think this is for a lot of my brothers in the world. We have allowed ourselves to feel the weight of sin that Jesus already took to the cross instead of allowing the redemptive work of Christ to move past the spiritual renewal into our physical world! Paul himself says that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, yet how often do we turn away from the care of our physical bodies because we have not valued the body God gave us. I think so many men have bought into lies of false intimacy through pornography, comparison, sexual abuse and body shaming.
I want to see my brothers set free into intimacy with God, each other, and their spouses!
It is time for men to stand up! To welcome the strength the Lord gives and the weakness we feel in ourselves and learn from them both! For us to look at ourselves in the mirror and see who God has created us to be! To see yourself and know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made! To look at ourselves and know that what we see is GOOD because God Himself declared it so!