The other day my three-year-old, Charli, loaded her crayons and coloring books into her pink Hello Kitty backpack. I asked, "Honey, what are you doing?"
"I'm playing school, Mom," she responded, sitting down to work at her own special pint-sized desk.
Demonstrating my uncanny grasp of the obvious, I continued, "But, honey, you're naked."
"So how could you be playing school if you're naked?"
"It's okay; my friends are naked too. It's Naked Day."
For Charli, "naked" is not just a temporary state of being; it's a way of life. She's so notorious for her state of undress, one of my neighbors actually joked one day, "I don't think you buy her clothes, do you?"
I hope someday soon Charli will outgrow her clothing allergy. In the meantime, I enjoy watching her prance about, a reminder of the beauty of authenticity. She is who she is with no need to hide a thing.
I wonder what life would look like if we all developed a clothing allergy—metaphorically speaking. What if we approached every relationship in a state of undress?
I'm not advocating spilling our deepest secrets to strangers or randomly sharing family dysfunction horror stories, but rather an attempt to represent our truest selves.
In her book The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers, Amy Hollingsworth quotes the beloved children's tv icon on the subject of being himself. He says: "I think one of the greatest gifts that we can give anybody is the gift of one more honest adult in that person's life—whether [the recipient] be a child or an adult … And so, for me, being quiet and slow is being myself, and that is my gift."
Of course, it's our nature to hide ourselves. In the beginning, after they'd disobeyed God in the garden, Adam and Eve hid from God. "When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God. God called to the Man: 'Where are you?'" (Genesis 3:8, 9 [The Message]). God knew where they were. He wanted them to respond in honesty to his call.
Adam and Eve thought they could actually hide from God. I've been guilty of pretending I can hide the undesirable, sometimes ugly, parts of me—like Charli, who used to say, "Don't see, Mom. Don't see," after she'd painted herself purple or smeared yogurt all over the floor. But I did see her messes, and I loved her still. God saw the mess Adam and Eve had made despite their attempts to conceal themselves. And he loved them—loves us—still.
Naked can be a good thing, an opportunity for honesty. It's a chance to give ourselves as an authentic gift to others, and most of all to respond honestly to our God.
I think the naked thing is catching on. We went to the beach last week. Apparently, a lot of people there are celebrating Naked Day.
Lisa Johnson is a writer, speaker, and recording artist from Southern California. She is the author of Days of Whine & Noses (Jossey-Bass).
Elisa Morgan is president of MOPS International. Call (800) 929-1287 or go to www.mops.org for information about a MOPS group in your area.
Copyright © 2005 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian Parenting Today magazine. Click here for reprint information on Christian Parenting Today.