We all know that feeling. We arrive at the area pool with our kids just hoping to get a couple hours of relaxation while they swim with their friends. Instead, the second we walk through the gate we are bombarded with the thoughts. “Wow, she looks great! How does she have 3 kids and still look like that? I have three kids, (or 2 or 1) and I look like a beached whale!” “I should have bought the black bathing suit.” “I should have just worn my shorts instead of this bathing suit.” “Ugh, why do I have to be so fat?” “I shouldn’t have eaten my birthday cake for the last 40 years. I hate myself for eating that cake.” Anyone else have this experience or one similar? I know it’s not just me. Should we take care of our bodies? Absolutely yes! 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” We aren’t all going to look the same in the process of caring for our bodies though. I am never going to weigh 140lbs but I can do healthy things to care for my body at 200lbs. Would God love me more at 140lbs? God’s love is not earned or lost. A good, loving parent doesn’t stop loving their child because of bad choices they make, or weight they gain. A loving parent continues to love that child! When our children are struggling is when we most want to wrap them up and snuggle them until they feel better. It’s when we want to speak words of life into their little (or big) hearts and spirits. In the same way when we are struggling, the Lord wants to comfort us! He wants to take our faces in His hands as he looks deeply into our eyes and tells us, “You are beautiful! You are loved! You are never alone! You are treasured!”
“You are beautiful! You are loved! You are never alone! You are treasured!”
I want to be seen like that! I want to see myself like that! I want to know I am a beautiful child of God who is known and loved and treasured! Not only that, I want to see others that way! For a long time, most of my life in fact, I was very judgmental. I know I’ve talked about this in the past. I love that the veil has been lifted from my eyes and I no longer look at people the same. God, give me your eyes to see your children the way you see them! Help me to see past the superficial things and ways of the world and into the heart and soul of those around me. Show me the hurting, the lost, the confused, the tired, the worn and weary and use me to pour out your love to them.
Can we have and develop empathy like this without naturism? Absolutely yes and many have! For me, though, God used naturism to open my eyes to what my attitude was like. No matter how we dress, sweat pants and a t-shirt, jeans and blouse, or jacked up for the red carpet, people are going to make assumptions about us based on our clothing. But clothes don’t make the person. We are all way more than the clothes we put on everyday. My clothes don’t show you what’s in my heart. My clothes don’t show you what my values are. You can only truly know who I am by connecting with me on a more personal level. Finding out what we have in common. With naturism right off the bat we know we have that in common and it opens the door for more conversations and relationship building. We have met so many amazing people at the naturist resort we frequent. Friendships are being built. Lives are being shared. We need each other on so many levels!
As I type this we are at a Christian naturist gathering. There are around 50 of us here. This week we have worshipped together, prayed together, fellowshipped together, eaten together, and grown together. While our official worship sessions are over for the week, the relationship building continues. Some of these people I am meeting for the very first time, but we already have an instant connection without knowing anything else about each other. As Christian naturists we are like-minded in that we believe we have all been created in the image of God and we are living that out by hiding nothing during this week of iron sharpening iron. We have spent hours in the pool enjoying the sunshine and discussing Scripture while all the kids splashed around. I imagine that is a picture of what heaven might be like except maybe Jesus will be floating around with us! There is no judgement here. There is love, acceptance, respect and appreciation for the bodies that God has given us. God is in this place with us. You can feel him. You can see him in the image bearers that are here desiring a deeper relationship and walk with the Father! God may not walk with us in the cool of the day in the same way he did with Adam and Eve, but there is no denying that he longs to be with us and is pleased when his children draw near to him. I believe in the same way we long to return to a Garden of Eden existence with God, he longs for that too! Until the day he returns for us, we are aching for Eden together.