Thursday, May 5, 2011

How to Live Naked and Exposed

Several months back, a half dozen doors on our new kitchen cabinets started to look like a photograph left in the car during the heat of summer, panels curling upwards and outwards into a U shape.

I was upset but hesitated before calling the cabinet maker. As a realist ("pessimist" teases unrealistically-optimist husband), I anticipate that people won't make things right, and seven times out of ten, I'm not disappointed...especially when it's a man trying to play me as some air headed female who knows nothing about construction.

You wouldn't believe the lines I've been told, that something is fine when I know it's not or that something can't be done when I have seen it done that way before. "Well, the AC isn't cooling because you don't have curtains up yet." or "No, they don't make that kind of stain."

I want to scream, "Don't you know I am a farm woman!?! I know Home Depot as well as I know Wal-mart. I wield a hammer, axe, shovel, level, and power drill more than my husband does!" But I don't. I usually just nod my head silently, then call husband in teary frustration and breathlessly spill over an entire paragraph in five seconds, ask him to fix it.

Husband finally tired of my moaning and made the call, himself. When the cabinet maker walked into the kitchen, I cringed, just waiting to hear him balk, "oh, they're not that bad." But after I pointed, he pulled a screwdriver out of his back pocket and simply started unscrewing the bad doors.

"Yeah. That's pretty bad. They're not supposed to do this."

I was floored. "Does this happen often?"

He handed the first door to his helper and started on the second one. "I've never seen the panels warp like this after being hung in a house. Sure, they do this on the floor of the shop, but not afterwards."

Once he left, I looked back in the kitchen, amazed at how exposed I felt with the doors gone. Take away a few smooth rectangles of wood that covered a multitude of sins and all the inner contents became visible, some spilling out onto the floor with a little toddler help.I flushed, naked as I imagined visitors coming in, my intimate thoughts and preferences exposed.

The disorganized"redneck Tupperware" and empty peanut butter jars revealed extreme thriftiness and lack of time spent doing housework. The shelves stuffed with tightly stacked cake mixes, marshmallow cream, and cocoa showed a penchant for right-to-the-hips sweets that I consume more often than the food pyramid says I should.

This nakedness--I sometimes feel it when I write here about my less than a conquerer life of struggles and all-too-frequent failures. But truthfully, I have felt naked since the day seven years ago when husband's name showed up on newsprint in bold face type presenting a fairytale that cast him as the crafty, deceitful villain. With one woman's lies placed as a yoke of public shame on both our shoulders, our problems were exposed to the world.

Not in that moment, but only much later have I learned the freedom of nakedness.

To live an exposed life meant I didn't have to worry about someone "finding out" about our past. It meant I no longer had to live with the silent shame and heartache of infertility problems, with the fear that someone would be disappointed in me if they learned I wasn't a perfect wife, mother, or daughter.

Modern Christianity sells an enslaving lie that the redeemed are supposed to have it all together, its nose-high-in-the-air haughtiness over others' problems that "must be" the result of sin creating a church of strangers. Our houses, our church faces--so perfect on the outside...while everything that reveals our struggles, unspoken fears or problems--hidden, tucked away in lidded boxes, behind closet doors, or within our locked-cabinet minds.

Such a life of deception is a self-made prison. But opening oneself up, exposing one's frailties?

It allows us to connect with others who are also silently suffering, thinking they're alone and that no good Christian should have X problem. It frees us to see problems as trials from God sent to draw us closer to Him and sanctify us versus some punishment we should be ashamed of. And most of all, it gives us freedom to be able to ask for prayer for anything because we are not held captive by fear of what people will think.

Such freedom...such joy--to be real in this journey.


  1. We love you because you're REAL, Jennifer :) Keep on sharing!

  2. Shout it from the rooftops, Sister! THIS is the Mother's Day post we need to hear. The post we ALL need to hear. I breathe a sigh of relief, blessed that you are willing to share your life, your everything. It's just the confirmation I needed for my own writing, my own sharing that I've been struggling with.
    Thank you and Happy Mother's Day!

  3. Wasn't thinking of a Mother's Day post when I wrote it, but I guess it's that time. A free mother is a better mother. :-) I've missed your frequent blogging, but just assumed it's because you're busy with the many munchkins you day-sit.

  4. First of all, I am happy that the cabinet man admitted the problem and was willing to change the doors.

    Then, this post. It's so true. How often we cringe at being naked and exposed... but in the end, the opportunity (not always welcome) to be transparent helps to make reality sink in, and helps us to move on to the next mature level.

    I love your posts, Jennifer. Have not had much time lately to visit...

    But today I purposely dropped by to wish you a blessed Mother's Day.

    With much love from a fellow mother...

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