Friday, November 10, 2006

The Naked Prophetess

Do you ever think about why God asked Isaiah--it was Isaiah, wasn't it?--to prophesy to Israel naked for three years? I have. It puzzles me.

Why didn't God ask him to prophesy in strange clothing like John the Baptist did? I know he preceeded the forerunner by a few thousand years, but I'm just saying, God is omnipresent. He knew all about John the baptist's odd habits and dietary choices. So why not just tripped out clothes?

Or minimal clothing? I mean, if he walked around in a loin cloth that would have garnered a lot of attention, don't you think? Maybe a really small loin cloth, like the ancient version of a g-string. The Israelites would have still gotten to see an impressive amount of skin. Right?

Or do you think there was just something about that prophet that made him more likely to preach for three years naked. Maybe he enjoyed all kinds of weather, and was kind of impervious to cold or excessive heat. Maybe he walked around his house naked a lot, and God didn't insist he wore clothes because he was a nudist. Do you think he had a nice body? We don't know much about him do we? We can gather that he was well read and had a gift for poetry. Maybe he was just really comfortable being naked.

But it's hard for me to buy that. Being naked in front of your community--your religious community had to cost him. Maybe that time when he saw the Lord, high and lifted up, train filling the temple, he understood a little more the nature of God. He said, "I am a man of unclean lips." I don't even know what that means. Did he cuss too much? Did he sexually harass women? Men? Did he do nasty things with his mouth between consenting adults? Who knows? I just know he saw the Lord, and it changed him. And the next thing you know he was walking around Israel butt naked.

I don't want God to ask me to be butt naked preaching. First of all, I'd find it terribly unfair since He knows what my stomach looks like after all those kids--and all that food. I haven't seen my abs since the 80's. Don't make me describe my belly, 'cause it hurts, y'all. Not physical pain, it hurts to have lost my former glory.

But maybe if He'd shown me a glimpse of His face, I'd have gladly surrendered my need for a tummy tuck to the scrutiny of God's people. I think seeing Him burns that kind of devotion into you. I've never seen God. He speaks to me. He gives me dreams. He says things through me I wouldn't have said on my own. In a way, He keeps me naked, and tonight I feel particularly vulnerable in that state.

I've been misunderstood, and that is a comical understatement. I've taken hits about my writing I can't tell you about. People don't always like the truth, or naked, or depressed, or raw, or sexy. They like a safe Christianity where nobody get's beat with a whip, even if they're bad, and no fig trees are harmed, and you don't have to see anybody's ass. I'm sorry if I disturbed you by saying ass. But that's exactly how it came to me.

Someone will read that and never come here again. Someone will tell somebody else I said ass and people will have meetings about me. And it makes me sad. Because we all know asses are harsher than behinds. And sometimes ass is the right word because you may be the one called to be naked, and you may be a little bit mad about it because good people say you're naked, and you know with your whole heart you're that way because God's people have shown their asses, and God doesn't like it, so he sends a prophet whose ass they have to look at for three years until they get the point.

Did you know sometimes I wish I colored inside the lines? Sometimes I wish I wrote sweet books and blogs that don't offend anybody. Sometimes I don't want to be the person who shows their ass because we can't be honest about any damned thing.

Look. I did it again. I said another bad thing but, aren't our lies damning us? Aren't the sins we're afraid to confess because people will think less of us damned things? Isn't that just the truth? And why are we afraid of the truth?

Sometimes I wished I was the teenaged missionary I used to be, when everyone was proud of me for my fiery preaching. I was 15, I hadn't even been saved a year, but I preached sermons behind our church's pulpit. When I was young Claudia Hawthorne, before I was Mair that rhymes with fire, I would have never dreamed I'd be called to say the worst things and shine the light on the darkness we don't want to see in ourselves. But you know what, I shine the light on the best things about us too! We are tenacious. Some of us claw our way through impossible odds for a drop of God to quench our awful thirst. I see you thirsty one. I'll tell your story. Some of us do everything wrong and still have a heart turned toward Love Himself in the end. I see you. And I'm writing as fast as I can.

And then there are days that my vision is dull because people say to me, we love you sister, but your, eh hem, behind is causing a disturbance, and we can't allow you to continue, whether or not God told you to take it all off, for the benefit of others.

And you know what's ironic? I love the sweet romance writer. I love the poet who always rhymes and never says ass or damn. I love the faithful who don't get enough credit because they are always faithful and it's expected of them. But I don't get to spend much time with them, because so many of us are showing our asses, and God uncovers mine to get their attention.

And it cost me something. More than you will ever know. But I pay it. Because even though I haven't seen His face, I've sensed it so very close to mine, that I could feel is breath, and the warmth of his nearness, gracing my own face.

And it makes it all worthwile.

I can only be who I am. And what I am: honest. I don't know why God asked me to be naked. Maybe because that man I lived with threw me outside so many times that way. And I lived through it. And if could do it for him, surely I can be honest and authentic and real--spiritually and emotionally naked for the One who loves me--the One who is Love Himself.

Pray for me, because the price is very high tonight.



Kristine said...

I don't know the details of your situation. However, I know that I look forward to reading what you have to say with eager anticipation every time I see a new post. I know that I admire you for standing naked before us all and speaking the truth. In those moments God grace is revealed. In those moments of vulnerability, even in the midst of pain, loneliness and heartache, others are drawn near. You have impacted my life and I mean that in the deepest way. I'm praying for you. At the same time, it's like you said, you can only be who you are. I thank God for you. I am blessed by you. You know, I simply don't have time for sugarcoating. I love that you are real. I've come to count on it.

Alison Strobel Morrow said...

The church is full of people who wouldn't be caught dead saying ass or damn, but who have no problem gossiping or looking down on the poor. There are people who would never miss a Sunday, but they spend Monday through Thursday harboring hate in their hearts. And there are Christians who know every word to every worship song out there, but they haven't cracked open their Bible in a decade because they know in their heart of hearts that the truth would shine so brightly off the page they'd be blinded.

And then there are people like you, who lift dirty, shaking hands not only to God, but to her fellow man, sharing the story of redemption and hope and peace and love and then, like the prophets, are despised in their own hometown.

I'd rather slum it with you than swank it with the other types. I love you, sister.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with Kristine and Alison. You have impacted my life profoundly, also, and i look forward to every new blog you enter. You have always known your writing will not be accepted by everyone and yet you allow yourself to be you and to be used by God Himself.
Try to not forget for whom you write, even tho I'm sure it must be super hard to hear these critical remarks. You are in my prayers, also, and I love you and miss you...

Camy Tang said...

Yeah to what Alison said. Let's slum together, babe.

Praying for you.


relevantgirl said...

May the God of all that's lovely, all that's broken, all that's dirty, all that's pristine, all that's clothed, all that's naked, all that's beauty, all that's decaying . . .

comfort you

shine His face upon yours

bring laughter anyway

affirm your calling stronger

show you His path

scoop up your woundedness like dirt and breathe life into you

reveal Himself to you.

Amen, sistah. Praying, too.

Paula said...

You are beautiful. Especially when you're naked. Jesus shines so brightly.

Alex Rider said...

wow!! I am so glad to have found your blog! you are real and I love that! i just felt like crying when i read your blog... think all all the hurt not being real had couased so many people... we are all hurting, broken people, who say "ass and damn"( or at least think it)but very few have the courage to admit it and reach out their hand and heart to others.

love to you!

Bek said...

i know about prices. and i know about people having meetings about you. and other things that i don't really wanna say. but i know, too. i know how it feels.

lisa said...

I love your ass!

Anonymous said...

hey girlfriend. i'm so sorry that the cost is so high. i hope since you posted this that perspective has come and you have been able to set aside the haters.

i need you to know that i read this today - and it was the most perfect timing - god had this for me - today - after i just finished speaking at my first women's retreat - where i told my WHOLE story and was a butt naked prophetess - THANK YOU MAIR!

i know god told me to do it - and rich things happened, and many found healing - but it is terrifying to be on this side of it and wondering what everyone is saying now that they are home.

i reviewed your amazing book this a.m. on my blog - thank you for it, i enjoyed every word. love, love, love you!

Anonymous said...

if you think that the cost is too high, I will tell you...I have been reading your posts from a small devastated country in Eastern Europe, struggling for a piece of bread daily, being glad when I survive every single day again...I have been reading your posts and I have been crying at every one of them... If you think that the cost is too high. Don't. You are one of the rare lights I carry with me during the day in this forsaken life and forsaken land. No cost is too high for being such an inspiration. For me and people like me. Thank you.