I think that our nakedness is truly the great equalizer. Naked? Think about it, no matter who we are, no matter who we think we are, when every single one of us takes off our clothes, our cares, our facades, we’re left with our skin, naked. We’re all the same. We live in a society that places great emphasis on creating segments, castes and classes. We build and develop our identities based on those things, not truly based on who we are as people, but the people we put ourselves around, by the people who were think of as “standards”, whatever that means. When the reality is, at the end of the day, we all put our clothes on the same way. We’re all naked under the thin veil of our undergarments. Just like it was in the Garden of Eden.
It’s simple to think to yourself, “I’m not as good as so and so.” It’s rather easy to say to yourself, “That’s not for folks like me.” “I can’t be that successful.” “I won’t ever live that way.” Listen, and hear me out, there is nothing that separates you from those people you speak of except the will, hard work, and persistence. That’s it. I love this line from the Macklemore/Ryan Lewis song “Ten Thousand Hours”, “The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great because they painted a lot.” One of the things my Mom instilled in me from the time I was old enough was that I could be anything I wanted to be. And the sad thing is that I feel I’m just now actually believing it. Isn’t that sad? I have every single thing I need to be whatever it is I want to be. The only person that can take that away is myself.
I had a conversation with a friend tonight, who isn’t where they thought they’d be in life at the age they’re at. They’re not “normal” in comparison to others around them, to what the world has laid out as some sort of “standard.” And I told them, it’s rubbish. There is no standard, there is no normal, there are new “rules” to how life is supposed to go down for each one of us, there’s only us. Because again, we’re all the same, completely different yet completely the same. We all breath air, we all need oxygen, we all pay taxes, and again, at the end of the day, we’re all naked under everything we load on top of our skin. That same nakedness gives us our individuality, it gives us our true identity, the person we are when no one else is around, and that’s what normal is.
When someone says to me, it’s normal to be 35 and married and with kids, I tell them, “I’m 38, married and have no kids. And I’m normal.” And I have friends that are 35, not married and they have no friends. And that’s normal. And I have friends that are gay, who have been together for 12 years, committed (but still can’t get married) and they’re normal. There is no set determination for what “normal” is for all people, there is “normal” for each one of us. Because as much as we’re different, we’re all still the same. There aren’t standards to how life is supposed to be lived, there’s not a game plan that’s to be followed by all, with a timeline already laid out. There is just us, and each of our journeys. Never let someone tell you you’re not normal if you don’t meet the criteria of normal they place on you.
Nakedness. I think back at the story of Adam and Eve, and of their nakedness, and how one thing that isn’t taken away from that story is that in their nakedness, they had equality, and transparency, something this culture definitely hasn’t valued, yet should. I think of how in their nakedness there was this real concept of equality, that both were in the same boat, in the same skin, and both had the same potential. Both had the exact same chance for a productive future, both had the same ability to think for themselves and act on it. And that Adam did. And the rest is history.
It is of extreme value to remember that we are more alike in this world than we are different. Think about it, no matter our skin color, ethnicity, religion or sexual preference, we all sleep at night horizontally; we all need water and oxygen to live; we all live in cities, towns and villages; we all have mothers and fathers of some kind; we’re all born, and we all die; we all crave love; we all crave community; we all have brains; we all have hearts; we all grow by learning; we all crave acceptance; we all wonder why; we all feel pain; we all need stimulation of some sort; we all have different ideas of what “normal” is; and we all want more out of life. And again, we all have the abilities to be whoever we want to be if we’re willing to work hard and be patient and persistent.
The next time you’re naked, think about the fact that all over the world, people are the exact same under the clothing they layer upon their skin. And that sameness should be a reminder that you have the exact same potential as they do for success, for love, for hope, for grace. You are not any less valuable to God or to anyone else. You are an amazing human, part of an amazing story, made for amazing things.