soul nakedness

“Naked” has different meanings in different parts of the country. Generally speaking, the dictionary definition is “to be without clothing; in one’s skin.” “Naked” in the northern regions of the US means basically that: to be without clothing. “Nekkid,” as pronounced by our southern kin, means “to be without clothing … and lookin’ for trouble.” 😉

Jokes aside though, naked is something that Americans reserve for private times. In the bath/shower, in the bedroom, in intimate times with one’s spouse. Some are brave and throw an occasional visit to a European (nude) beach in there or (under the influence of one-too-many-brewskis) a streaking trip across some public part of a college campus or quad. 😯

But “soul nakedness” is not something that many of us enjoy or know how to achieve, I think. The term is something I coined while talking to a dear friend last week.

My husband grew up with shame surrounding nudity — it was kept private, alone, and not discussed or shown any sort of respect. As an adult, the only times he found himself naked were to bathe or be sexually intimate, and to even get him to undo another button on his polo shirt was met with resistance and discomfort. He wasn’t comfortable with me during our intimate times — to see him walk around our bedroom in private was something I never was blessed to enjoy. It was all hush-hush and some level of clothing was worn almost all the time. This isn’t to say that I didn’t have my own struggles with being unclothed, but my struggles were related to self-image, self-confidence, and self-loathing, not to shame.

I’m delighted to say that he’s no longer that way — it’s been a hard-fought struggle for him, but shame surrounding nakedness is dissipating. Thankfully.

Our walk down the path to soul-nakedness, however, has also come as we have worked on our “junk,” which is what I was relating to my friend. As God has been moving us closer to Him and to each other in emotional and spiritual health, we have found a new level of intimacy, or soul nakedness. It’s a comfort level that we’ve achieved that allows us to “let it all hang out” in the emotional realm and know that we’re still safe. Our confidences will not be exploited or tossed about like emotional chaff in a windstorm; he will keep mine and I will keep his. We have a level of comfort in broaching hard topics now that we simply wouldn’t have dared to previously. And in the answering of those hard questions is an honesty that simply didn’t exist for the majority of our marriage.

“Intimacy” is a great word for all of this, but it is more than that; I think the word-picture that “soul nakedness” provides is more potent. Sure, the sex is great. Greater than I ever thought it *could* be, based on our past and our issues. And considering we were headed down a path to be roommates with incredibly-occasional fringe benefits, it’s better than I had ever hoped.

But the sexual satisfaction aside, it’s this soul nakedness that we find so incredibly gratifying. It’s the ability to pray together, to hear prophetic utterings and say them to each other, to walk in our spiritual giftings, and to do spiritual battle for each other that shows us how far we’ve come. I can only speak for myself, but I used to be amazingly uncomfortable praying out loud with my husband. I don’t really know why except to say that the intimacy — the soul nakedness and trust — wasn’t there. And so to talk to God about the deep things of my spirit in the presence of one whom I didn’t fully trust was, in a word, uncomfortable.

My BIL is a pastor and counselor and an incredibly wise man. He told me a while back that he has a new technique for premarital counseling, and honestly, it’s one I might steal from him at some point. 😉 He said all the techniques and questions aside, he gives couples a passage of Scripture and wants them to do several things in front of him: 1) read it aloud; 2) consider it and tell the other person what it means to them; and 3) pray aloud — together and in his presence. Many couples, he has reported, have balked significantly at this and said it was “too uncomfortable.” I would have been one of them if our premarital counselor had used this technique. But my BIL’s point is that without the spiritual intimacy and (my word) soul nakedness, no amount of therapy or counseling technique will start a marriage off on the right foot. If a couple cannot talk about their faith and relationship to God with each other, how can they talk about life? How to set priorities for their home? How to raise their kids? How can they hope to forge a united front when it comes to raising those kids?

They can’t, pure and simple. And so while his methods might seem a bit abrupt or harsh, he has an excellent point. I don’t know that my marriage would have survived the lack of intimacy and soul nakedness without a direct intervention from God. And we certainly didn’t have the ability to foster or create that on our own, advanced (seminary) degree aside.

I probably won’t be doing a lot of premarital counseling when I’m done with my next degree. But if I do, I’m likely to pursue my BIL’s idea and push a young couple to a place where they’re willing to talk about the most important intimacy a marriage can have or hope to achieve: soul nakedness.

His and his,
~Cori.

This entry was posted on 040729H Sep 2008 and is filed under Forgiveness, Path to Healing, Sexual Brokenness. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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