The Bible begins with the story of a man and woman who were ‘naked and not ashamed’ and we’re told that at the end of the story ”we shall know fully, as we are fully known.” In between, though, there’s running, hiding, blaming, shame, abuse of power, greed, cover-ups, denial, posturing, and so much more that is, literally, ‘anti-Christ.’ These sad realities are why Paul said that now we “see through a glass darkly.” He was saying that ’fake news’ is as old as Adam’s redacted version of original sin.
The infinite unconditional love poured out on humanity by God through the coming of Christ (see The First Day for more) the reality is that we don’t need to run and hide anymore because we know that there’s one who loves us perfectly, and will love us forever, no matter our failures, doubts, rebellions, or scars. We are loved!
Receiving this powerfully enough that it sinks down into the deepest part of our souls will lead to the courage required for vulnerability. We can come clean with our own brokenness, knowing that those who continue to walk with us in spite of our pain, shame, failure, and guilt will be our true lovers. It’s likely true that for many or most of us, we’ll be known most fully by our spouses, but the sad truth is that there are millions of marriages lacking the safety in which vulnerability can flourish, so there are coverings and hidings, even in marriage.
Since our soul longs to be known, though, we become ripe for intimacy substitutes when real intimacy evaporates or eludes us. The substitutes are emotions that temporarily fill our longing to be known, but are unsustainable and damaging. They show up in infidelity, or spiritually abusive relationships (where pastors, or others with power, use another’s vulnerablility as a tool for their own gratification. They show up in parents who create subtle performance demands on children. They show up when an environment is created where confession isn’t safe. Such environments are common in workplaces, homes, and yes, churches as well. We need to run from this false intimacy, exposing it for the sham that it is.
The alternative requires courage, and the glad news of this sixth gift is this: You have the resources to be one of those with courageous vulnerability, because you ARE pre-emptively and unconditionally lived. This enables you to ’shoot the moon’. Your authenticity will be costly, as some relationships will come to an end because some are for more comfortable with veils than authenticity. Those relationships that remain, though, will be built on the foundation of true love - you’ll be ’fully known,’ at least poetically if not literally. A marriage might be the height of this, due to the depth of covenant commitment, length of time, and vast collection of highs and lows endured, but its not the only ‘true love’ out there. There are also friendships that are real, and vulnerable, and deep - because they’re a delightful cocktail of vulnerability, safety, support, and courage.
Your heart longs for this kind of intimacy. Mine too. Though none of us will ever find it perfectly in this life, I know that the radically unconditional acceptance God has for us, if we can receive it, becomes the basis for us to ‘disrobe’ appropriately - to both know and be known in ways that are life-giving. And though we will falter in this along the way, I am profoundly comforted by the reality that there is ONE in this universe, at least one, who will never leave me or forsake me. I'm building there, on that foundation, and finding the courage to give and receive love.
You can find all the other gifts of the twelve days at spiritsoulbody.org - Subscribe so you don’t miss a single post equipping you to move toward wholeness in 2021