Romans 8:28, 31 “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose…If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Throughout life we are stripped in many different situations. Daily we strip from our clothes in order to cleanse our body. Thus we have the sanitary reason for stripping. Whenever I make my annual gynecological visit stripping is also required. Thus we have the medical reason for stripping.
Refinishing furniture requires stripping off the old finish. A stripped screw can no longer function properly. And of course we have the whole adult entertainment industry where stripping is used to attract and tempt men and women.
There are other examples of stripping I could include, but I want to focus on feeling stripped as a result of a death. A stripping you cannot control; more on that a little later.
The idea here of feeling stripped is about loss; not of clothing but of emotional support. Since losing my friend I have felt stripped of her presence. It is like I do not have my complete wardrobe.
Looking into my ‘closet’ I am not able to find an acceptable substitute. I get dressed, but always something is missing. I feel things do not coordinate together. Something I highly valued has been stripped from my life.
Throughout our lives we are involuntary stripped of things we hold dear…material things….money…personal security…peace of mind…hopes…and dreams…health…the list could go on.
I know in my heart that it is more about how I react than to what I perceive is being stripped from me. This realization requires vigilance.
I often try to connect situations in my life with a familiar biblical story. When I think of being stripped I picture Jesus being stripped of his clothes. He chose to submit to this humiliating act allowing the soldiers to strip him and cast lots for his garments. No greater Love!
Without clothes you are naked and vulnerable to the external elements. Without clothes you lose some protection. There is nothing to cover your sensitive skin. The death of my close friend to me is much like being stripped. I feel vulnerable.
Being stripped of your soul friend leaves you without familiar cover. Not that you can hide inside your clothing, but the friendship provides a safe place. Within friendship that which is less than perfect and hidden from others is accepted by your friend. Inside the clothing of friendship you are not preoccupied with what others think. You are accepted and loved for just being…you. You can actually be better at who you are.
Occasionally I have left home without something as simple as my earrings. It seems ridiculous, but I feel naked without earrings. I know it makes no sense. Earrings are a very small part of being dressed.
I feel stripped and vulnerable without my friend, but at the same time there is this sense of freedom. This sense of freedom almost makes me feel guilty. Freedom seems to contradict the loss and feelings of being stripped. A freedom from being stripped is the freedom from expectations.
As we approach Lent I invite you to consider; what you can strip from your own life. During Lent we have the freedom to look at our lives and decide what we can strip away in order to have a closer relationship with the Lord.
We can ask ourselves these questions, “What am I hiding behind?
What is compromising my acceptance of God’s plan for me?”
“What am I clutching onto for dear life?”
Like St. Paul I often do not know how to pray as I ought; especially when I feel stripped, vulnerable and sometimes even deserted by God.