"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
Eph 5:25

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bare Your Soles

Wanna get intimate?  Take off your shoes.

 This morning I read an article in the Cornell Morning Sun called The Barefoot Practice by Tom Moore, who I believe is a student at Cornell University.  Moore writes about his barefoot experience around campus.  He felt natural and good about baring his feet everywhere as he felt an intimate connection with the world around him.  At the same time, he was met with (sometimes surprising) resistance from several people who were concerned for his safety, or who otherwise thought it wrong of him to meander about campus sans footwear. 

As I read I thought about bare feet, and how they relate to our lives and to our intimate relationships, particularly the one-flesh relationship between husbands and wives.  

Alright, sometimes I think weird thoughts, I admit it.  Bear with me and I promise there will be a take-away point at the end of this (well, sort of).

Those of you who know me also know that, as a rule, I don’t bare my soles (the ones on my feet) very often.  It isn’t because of my obsession with stylish shoes; rather, it’s because of nerve and muscle damage in my right foot that require support in order to lessen the pain. 

But, I digress ….

Barefootin' is risky business (aside from the “unique” aroma).   When we take off our shoes we are literally baring our soles - treading vulnerably into the world with the possibility of injury and disease.    A barefooted person might step on glass or rocks, scrape a toe against the concrete, impale the foot on a rusty nail, or contract ringworm.  There are a plethora of nasties that can happen when we go about our daily business without footwear.  On the other hand the elegant velvet suppleness of soft grass or the grainy tickle of sand between the toes cannot be experienced unless a person’s foot is naked and vulnerable.

What if we were talking about souls rather than soles?  What would happen if we got brutally honest about ourselves, our hopes and dreams, our desires and secret thoughts, and laid them all out for our loved ones?

When we stand before others unclad, naked  and vulnerable (get your minds out of the gutter - you know what I mean), we are able to experience the true, magnificent pleasures of genuine freedom.  It is only in this open state that we can be honest and authentic, we can be ourselves, and we can really feel our relationships in their raw, unprocessed states.   

Will we be hurt, humiliated, rejected?  Most likely.   Will we be accepted? Uh, maybe.  But even if we aren’t we still should take off our coverings and step out there.  We should expose ourselves and let what will be, be. 

In the same vein, I can’t help thinking about how this can be applied explicitly to the intimate, one-flesh relationship of a husband and wife.  After all, everything comes down to marriage for me.

How would that work?  Can we go barefoot (and bare-otherwise) in marriage? what would that look like?

When we open ourselves to show our authentic selves to our spouses, we run the risk of hurt, humiliation, rejection, criticism, etc.  However, there is also the delight we experience when we grow and learn through pain, humiliation, rejection, and criticism.  Through our discomfort comes great growth and improvement when we tear down walls and allow ourselves to come into the open, allowing ourselves to be known completely and let the chips fall where the may.   

What if my spouse isn’t into all this “open, vulnerable” gobbledy-gook? 

That’s okay.  Last time I checked, people were given the freedom to accept or reject you.  This includes your spouse (shocking, I know).  

True, it might not be easy, and it surely won’t be comfortable, but that’s okay.  One spouse can begin this journey alone.  Change generally happens when one person changes one thing at a time.  If you want to feel better about going “naked,” then, as the Nike advertisement says, “Just do it!”  Sure it will be uncomfortable, and will likely bring ridicule and uneasiness.  But in the end you will be a more genuine human being, you will be more willing to express yourself, and you will be an example for others who also want to experience the beauty of real intimacy.   

From the inside out,



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