Birthday Suits

Have you ever stopped and thought about the fact that there are millions of species of animals on Earth and only one that wears clothes?   I’s answers to questions like these that occupy my mind when pondering the depths of life.  Questions like this one and others like why do we drive on parkways but park on driveways?  But I digress. 

Think about it though.  We are the only ones that take the time to cover ourselves sheerly for the purpose of not being uncovered.  Do you think dogs ever look at each other and are like "Hey, Rex is naked!"  Or do you think other dogs notice when owners put those sweaters on their canine companions?  Other than to laugh at them of course.  

How is it that of all the creatures on Earth only one became so self conscious as to hide its body? I understand clothing for the purpose of staying warm or for protection from the elements, but beyond that, how did we get to wearing them for the sheer sake of wearing them?  

As the highest reasoning creature on Earth, how did we become so concerned with something that matters so little? Now don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that we all start running around in our birthday suits. I'm just wondering how we got to be so different?

Whether you believe we evolved from monkeys or were created by the hand of God, it's the same question.  If we evolved, what inspired Cro-Magnon Man to look upon his body with shame and don the first loin coverings, launching what would eventually become the fashion industry?  

And if you have religious beliefs as to the origins of man, then your probably familiar with the Bible’s explanation of mankind’s transition from “they were naked and knew no shame” to making clothes from salad ingredients after Adam and Eve sampled that fateful fruit.  

However it occurred, whether you believe in Evolution or Creation, somewhere back then a person, for the first time, concluded "Hey, I'm not wearing any clothes............and neither are you!"

It makes very little sense from either perspective really.  If we evolved, then the practice of covering our bodies simply out of shame seems a silly and illogical development as at some point back then everyone was naked, all the time.  And from a religious position, while the Bible contains the idea that Adam and Eve were “ashamed,” the reaction of covering their bodies makes little sense when their sin was not being naked but disobeying.  It would have made more sense if they had tried to cover the spot on the tree the fruit had been plucked from, or buried the left over remnants of their forbidden snack.  

After all, in their case, Adam and Eve were made in the very image of God!  To have been made in the image God and then to find shame in that image seems rather insulting to God, does it not?

This is even more baffling when we acknowledge the fact that we are all born naked, and while small, we're as carefree about our birthday suits as any other animal on Earth.  Any parent of a toddler knows at any given moment you could suddenly find yourself frantically chasing a two and a half foot tall streaker through any given social setting. 

The comfort in which kids can unabashedly don their birthday suits tells me this is not a shame we are born's one we have to learn.  We have to learn to be ashamed of our bodies.  Yet even as adults, most of us are as comfortable as small children with the idea of being naked--as long as it's in private.  Which is fortunate as it contributes to a society with a lot less body odor!  But all it takes is presence of another person for the idea to be met with anxiety and fear, to the point that a common nightmare many people dream is the experience of being naked in public.  

Now I do recognize there are some brave souls out there who don't feel awkward at all about being naked in public........but I assure you the rest of the public feels awkward about you! 

You see, when nobody is around, we can let our guards down, both physically and emotionally. We are ourselves.  When we are alone we can disrobe not only our bodies but our hearts as well.  It's in the empty house or the shower that we not only might shed our coverings, but also belt out that song we would never sing in public.  Where we dance like nobody’s watching and talk to ourselves about our inner most genuine thoughts.

But when others are introduced to the equation, all of the sudden our focus shifts from me just being me to what does that other person think of me.  In fact, even in our most intimate of relationships, it is our hearts that are the last thing to be uncovered in the presence of another.  How many couples have spent years in marriages and relationships where they physically know every square inch of their partner's body, but are still strangers to the secret chambers of one another’s hearts?  Thoughts, fears, and insecurities protected deep in the labyrinth of the soul in mysterious lairs known only to ourselves, fiercely protected and secured away from any other person.

The Bible warns that “it is not good for man to be alone” yet isn’t that the case for so many people?  Isn’t there often a part deep within the vast majority of us that will always be alone?  

For most of us it takes a great deal of time, trust, and hormonal encouragement to have the courage to physically reveal ourselves to another.  But to reveal the depths of our hearts?  That requires the deepest trust and greatest courage of all.  Ironically, in the case of children, this is another area where they tend to be very comfortable opening up.  From the mouths of babes we hear the unbridled inner thoughts of the most physically, emotionally, and mentally authentic people of all.  

Little ones who still dwell in the Garden of Eden, a place where they are still physically and emotionally unashamed of who they are, made in The Image of God.  But day by day, year by year, we feed them bites from that Tree of Knowledge....we teach them to cover their bodies and hide their little hearts as we lure them step by step out of the Garden and into our broken and lonely world of facades and outward perceptions.  

Bit by bit they begin to "cover up" their emotions, chipping away the rough edges they were born with and eventually sculpting themselves into whatever society dictates for them to survive.  In the process, letting go little by little of who they really are, becoming less and less the "human" they were made to be.

It is very interesting to me that Jesus said in order for us to experience The Kingdom of Heaven we have to become like children.  Children are the only ones among us who have the capacity to not be “alone” as they are the only ones with the innocence and courage to allow themselves to be fully known.  They don't worry about how they look physically. They don't worry about what anyone will think when they reveal their inner most thoughts.  The are truly genuine and honest with the ability to create just as much discomfort streaking through a crowded room as they can speaking what's really on their mind to that crowded room.    

Is it possible that is how far we’ve fallen?  After all, few things are more uncomfortable than complete and total physical and emotional authenticity.  But what if it is there that God dwells?  In the real, the messy, the true core of who we are, the parts we hide in shame and try to suffocate away?  What if the reason we struggle to find God is because the parts of us that are closest to his image are the same parts in which we draw the most shame?  

What if the greatest irony of Heaven is that it isn’t a place we are striving to get to.....but a place we willingly walked away from?  A place we once dwelt as children that we learned to shun as adults?  What if Eden isn’t a place locked away in the halls of time.....but rather as the children we once locked away in the chambers of our hearts? 


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