“If people knew who I really was, they wouldn’t like me,” I remember telling my mom in high school. What I meant was that the only way I could be accepted was hiding behind choir dresses, drama masks, memorized lines, and stage makeup. The real naked me was flawed and broken and something to hide. This is shame.
In the scriptures, Adam and Eve only understood shame after they ate the fruit and the first thing they did was make clothing to hide their nakedness. Nakedness is a powerful symbol for shame; a concrete way my brain chose to show me last night that my battle with shame is far from over.
Nakedness. I had three naked dreams last night. I dreamed I was staying in an apartment in a sky rise. I was getting ready for bed and was totally naked before I realized that my blinds were open exposing me to the whole city. I walked to the large window to close the blinds and saw that a woman was laughing at me, pointing and taking pictures. Of course, I couldn’t get the blinds closed before she got a few shots of my humiliation.
The next dream I went to church and realized I had worn a see through dress. It was clearly inappropriate for church, but I insisted on staying at the meetings. I needed to be there regardless of how uncomfortable I was or others were with what I had worn.
The third dream, I was riding a bike. I looked down and realized I was dressed in a babydoll lingerie outfit. The wind was exposing my bare legs that were covered in thick black hair. I tried to pull the sheer fabric around my legs while balancing on the bike and I wove dangerously around the busy city road I was navigating.
Clothing hides our nakedness. It shields our vulnerability. We chose what we wear, we don’t choose how our naked body looks. We can appear to be thinner and more attractive depending on what we wear. In the scriptures the prideful wear clothing to show their wealth and put themselves above others. Clothing is also a symbol of our fallen natures. Adam and Eve didn’t wear clothes until they had transgressed. Only then were they ashamed. Only then did they need to hide.
Is nakedness a sin? It can be a crime. Indecent exposure is illegal in many places. There is almost no social taboo quite as universal as nakedness. But…..is it a sin? I don’t think there is any scriptural evidence for it being a sin. Nakedness in the scriptures is associated with poverty and profound grief. There are commandments regarding sexual interactions, but usually our fears about nakedness and dreams about nakedness are not about sexual sin, they are about shame. It isn’t doing wrong, it’s being wrong. It isn’t disobeying God’s commandments, it is about disobeying social conventions and facing the disdain and judgement of others.
So what do my shame dreams mean? I read this excellent article this morning that analyzes naked dreams with the Jungian method. Jung happens to be one of my favorite people ever, so it had to be good! You can read it here. Basically, the naked or semi-naked me in my dreams is symbolic of the vulnerability I feel at showing my authentic self on this blog. The real me. No masks, degrees, costumes, or stage lighting. No memorized lines, scripts, or coaches to correct me.
For the people reading this, I don’t think you have any idea how difficult this is for me to do. I am a fairly good writer, but what I have to say is so profoundly naked. Each time I write I find that I care a little bit less about how people see me. Each time I bring my messages back to the Savior I remember that only as I transform my fear into faith and fear only Him, I become free. Free to be the woman he wants me to be and His true handmaid.
I wish I could tell my dream self to blow that woman a kiss out of my apartment window. Let her post my unashamed face on her instagram if she wants! Better than feeling humiliated for doing something stupid that everyone does sometimes. I wish that I could tell my dream self to wear that transparent dress like a boss. It is going to be the new fashion in Relief Society soon. I wish I could tell my dream self to own those hairy legs. Eve’s legs were most likely hairy and Adam didn’t care. Neither did God.
In the end it isn’t going to matter whether or not I pleased other people. It will matter whether or not I please my Master. He once said in the scriptures, you can’t serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or hold to the one and despise the other. You can’t serve God and mammon. He’s saying, you can’t please both. You can’t serve both. In this life, you have to choose. This is me choosing Him and writing my testimony another day, owning my nakedness and brokenness before God.
I know that He lives. I know that His power is real. There is nothing that is impossible to Him and I will praise his name all the days of my life. I fear not what man can do, for in Him is my trust. He is my rock and my salvation and through Him I will be saved. Though I be naked, yet He has put a royal robe around my shoulders and in Him I am not ashamed.