I took a break from writing, mostly because of an overwhelmed schedule but in recent months some issues with my health have occupied my time as well.
Dealing with health issues can demand that you be still even as you struggle with an addiction to busyness and can also force you into situations you would prefer to avoid — like being naked with strangers.
A couple of months ago an unexplained pain between my shoulders and in my chest landed me in the ER. Even as I stood there in extreme pain while medical professionals quickly worked around me, the words “Take off your clothes and put on this gown.” struck fear in the heart of this modest girl.
As a group of nurses attached electrode patches to my chest and abdomen and started an iv, my biggest fear wasn’t whether or not I was having a heart attack but whether the partially closed curtain would expose my nakedness to the rest of the ER. Ridiculous right? But I’m totally serious!
Test after test would threaten my modesty although each of them failed to provide an answer for the pain I was enduring. None of the strangers that had seen me naked that day could tell me what was wrong.
In the days ahead I would endure more testing (with a little less exposure) and would finally receive an answer. It seems that you can live just fine without a gallbladder but not so well with one that only operates at twelve percent.
As I (impatiently) waited for the day of the surgery to arrive, I continually researched life without a gallbladder. The week prior to the procedure I received the instructions from the surgical center on how to prepare.
There were the usual — nothing to eat or drink after midnight, be sure to have a driver and someone to stay with you but then I read, “No lotions, makeup or hair products are to be used the day of surgery.”
Let me get this straight. Not only do I once again have to be naked in a room full of strangers, but this time I’m required to have a naked face too?
The thought of it was almost too much to bear or bare.
Was I really this vain?? I mean, we’re talking surgery here — my body cut open and an organ removed.
Yes — I had a meltdown because of a no makeup rule.
Why was the thought of exposing my naked face to these strangers so devastating to me? Ok, so I never leave my house without doing my hair and makeup and dressing appropriately (I don’t wear pajamas to the store, although I’m not judging any of you who do!) but seriously?
Was it really the additional exposed skin sending me over the edge or was it more than that?
Then God began to uncover some truths to me.
I had been insecure for as long as I could remember, always pointing out my own flaws — real or imagined — but most often I did a fairly good job of covering them up.
Because I’ve always been outgoing others probably assumed that I was confident but in reality I never felt that I was good enough.
The truth is there were many things that happened in my life that made me feel that way and many people in my life that confirmed it.
At any moment I could have chosen to expose the truth and the lies of it all but instead I chose to cover it all up.
I covered my body to conceal the truth of how others had used it with or without my permission and I covered my face to hide the truth of what I had believed for so long — that I had no value. Because of the things done to me and the things that I had done I believed that I was worthless but my clothes and makeup were like a smoke screen. No one needed to know the truth— except I knew.
Here’s the thing.
Do you remember the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden after they had been deceived by the serpent?
Genesis 3:7-10 ESV
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
It wasn’t just about being naked, it was about covering my shame.
And that’s the thing — we’re deceived into thinking that we need to cover the shame of who we once were so we use substances to medicate our pain, or relationships to avoid it, sometimes we use busyness in an attempt to make up for our mistakes and failures and sometimes we just lie.
Here’s the good news — God can use it.
ALL OF IT.
The nakedness and the brokenness.
“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.” – Vance Havner
Modesty is a good quality — I mean who really wants to be naked with strangers — but we should never be afraid to show who we really are regardless of our mistakes, in spite of our shame.
I can’t say that it was extremely comfortable to be completely exposed to a surgical center full of strangers but it was necessary for my healing and I survived it!
And you will too.
You should be more afraid of keeping the painful or shameful things hidden than allowing God to expose them because more than anything He wants to heal you and expose the truth of how He sees you.
We walk out our faith everyday and God continues to reveal Himself to us when we’re not trying so hard to hide from Him.
Share your stories and you will change lives, including your own!
Be blessed friends and be a blessing.