On the occasion of one of our anniversary/hunting weekends at a friend’s cabin, I was laying in bed when I got a text from a friend who wanted to talk about something that really could wait until Monday. I replied that we were at the cabin for our anniversary hoping she’d get the hint, but she proceeded with the details of why she needed to talk.
I really didn’t want to deal with it and texted back “go away, I’m naked!”
She got the hint and agreed to delay our conversation until I returned home. But I chuckled at my creative outburst and began using the phrase with others whenever I felt the need to cut the conversation short. After all, most of us recognize the right to a person’s privacy when naked. Likewise, most of us value our choice as to when and with whom we expose our most vulnerable self. So “naked” seemed to be the word to capture that essence.
I’ve always enjoyed being naked: physically as well as emotionally. Obviously. Because this is only the second paragraph and already I’ve set the tone for TMI. As a child, I loved the freedom of topless swimming and feared coming of age when I’d have to put on a shirt. My older sister told me that if I slept on my chest, my breasts wouldn’t grow, so I faithfully followed her advice in the hope that my skinny dipping would never end. While no one would describe me as well-endowed, puberty did make it necessary to cover up. In my teen years, however, it didn’t take much encouragement from my friends to roll down the back seat window and moon the cars in the next lane. Seems there’s just something exciting about bearing to others what we’ve been told to cover up. And perhaps that explains why I write.
What does it really mean to be naked?
Aside from the liberty I experienced in the physical expression of nudity, I was also learning to describe the freedom in exposing myself to the pages of my journal. At 16, I was aware of the comparison between entering the realm of writing and a strip tease act.
April 12, 1981
My journal, like seduction, draws me in. At first slowly, flipping through past experience, then enticing me to undress all that I’ve hidden from the world. And though I promised I’d only indulge myself a little while, I’m trapped and wrapped inside this intoxicating pleasure of self expression. And I can’t wait to give it more and more each day.
The raw, naked expression of my soul has always yearned to be preserved in writing balanced with the control of whether or not to share it and with whom. I can moon someone with the shocking, stark reality of who I am or retreat declaring my mantra, “go away, I’m naked!” And that is the irony of this blog. Do I want an audience or not? By it’s very title, I’m letting you know I’m going for a skinny dip. If you care to peek and end up offended by what you see, that’s YOUR problem not mine because I’ve warned you in advance.
I began to ponder the difference between a blog and social media when a friend was airing her disgust at what she happened across on a mutual friend’s Facebook post. I told her I had written similar things and her response was “yes, but not on Facebook where everybody sees it!” She went on to remind me that a person CHOOSES to subscribe to a personal blog.
A blog is like a book in that you decide to read it or not. Facebook is more like a billboard you and a thousand other commuters read before you even make the decision to do so or not. Lives are being advertised on social media and you may have seen more than you wanted from co-workers, children, or casual acquaintances when your newsfeed reported to you who supports gun control, abortion, or loves Jesus. You didn’t ask, but couldn’t help notice what your “friends” were making for dinner and where they vacationed. Thanks to social media, without warning, we’ve all seen the “private parts” of people we previously knew only casually. If your friends list were only limited to one social group, you’d know what was safe to share, but because the people you work with are now viewing the same post as your high school and college alumni, neighbors, relatives, and friends of friends that you’re really not friends with… the opportunities to offend have increased. For example, you can shout “I love Jesus!” at your church and no one challenges it because you are aware it’s a safe place to express it. When among your relatives or co-workers, however, maybe you tone it down because you know a fight will only ensue or boundaries have been set by the powers that be. But you hit the share button one day on a Jesus meme to encourage your Christian friends unaware that the co-worker you confirmed as a friend last month has been reading these in his newsfeed and is fed up with the exposure of your faith which was previously kept under wraps in the workplace. And because he’s not under any restraint by an employee handbook on Facebook, he freely expresses his grievances about your post which becomes like a graffiti war on a billboard. Your Christian friends reply with a defense to which more comments show up from the opposing team and to your surprise that guy you know from your kid’s soccer league who’s been silently lurking all this time starts discussing your controversial posts with the other soccer parents. Did you really intend for your Facebook wall to turn into an apologetics forum that traveled on to the soccer field, or were you just hitting the share button? And this is not just about the Jesus posts. Does everyone really want to know your dietary, political, or sexual choices or need to be aware that you’re upset with your spouse or friend? Used to be those were things we had more choice over when we disclosed it to one or two people trusting they knew us and our circumstances more intimately. It’s a new dilemma for those of us who are drawn to writing naked because our audience has broadened. Who are we exposing ourselves to? I’m not really sure if it’s a good idea now that the people we know in one area of our lives are in contact with other areas of our lives. Why am I friends with a work related acquaintance from a job I had 5 years ago? In real time, we never had much to say to each other and CHOSE not to know the details of one another’s life. And why am I still friends with my children’s teachers long after their graduation? By the way, who is this person that I friended in order to share pictures from the same event? Should I unfriend them now that the exchange was made? Why am I still friends with someone who’s already expressed their disdain for my posts? Can I unfriend them without causing them more grief?
Through Facebook, I found out the hard way that some people only wanted to see part of me. They were comfortable with their first impression of me in the area of life through which we first met, but they didn’t really want to learn any more about me than that. So without realizing it, I was mooning them — for they had unwittingly seen my “private parts” in their news feed.
Lest the reader of this blog think I literally posted pictures of my butt, I do not do that. I am thankful there was no social media when I was a teenager. I am referring to posts that didn’t’ agree with the Julie they knew. The affect is likened to that of a child who sees their grade school teacher at the grocery store for the first time. Everybody needs to shop, it’s not that shocking. But for the child who only knew their teacher in one small area of life, his mind reels in the confrontation that she doesn’t actually live in the class room 24/7. What a shock to discover that she eats, sleeps, and uses toilet paper too! Why is it that we can’t accept the many facets of other people’s lives and keep them limited to our expectations of them? Some who were already familiar with my Scripture-laden writing pertaining to counter-cult ministry, friended me on Facebook expecting more of the same and were surprised by pictures of my clown life and silly “Russian woman” conversations with fellow comic comrades. But those who knew me only as “Jubilee! The Clown” or “Mary Kate the leprechaun lady” were shocked to see the seriousness of my posts exposing the Watchtower Society and expressions of faith in Jesus Christ. Hmm…. with that said, I have to admit that I enjoy playing “dress up” as much as being naked! And though the majority of my Facebook friends are Christian, some have become disappointed in discovering my personal views within the faith. When you just show up to listen to sermons, everyone assumes there’s agreement in the flock. The pastor is the only one presenting the interpretation, but social media groups have afforded us all opportunity to explore and discuss the variety of expressions within Christianity that have always existed yet were shared only among a small group of trusted friends. Now everyone knows. Some prefer not to know, but now we’ve seen each other naked without warning.
I wanted to honor the friends who didn’t want to see my nakedness and began second guessing myself as to what to like, share, or post. That familiar feeling of shame crept in as I was about to post but looked for fig leaves to cover up instead. Maybe that’s why the wise among us share cute pictures of cats and dogs instead of their raw feelings, but of course we all know there’s that PETA fanatic in their friend’s list ready to defend the right to set animals free from all forms of domestication. They probably get their share of hate mail too. Solution? Join a select group who shares your passion! But even there, cliques can become cults where everyone must think alike or be kicked out. Sigh. Not to mention the fact that the names of those select groups may show up in your profile and allow your friends to see that “gasp!” you belong to “them!”
Sigh. Finally, I find the nude beach I’ve longed for and my neighbor and boss show up to say “put some clothes on!” But clothes restrict and I began to wear the garments of writer’s block. So it’s time. Cue the strip tease music….
Blogging is not new to me. I began in 2009 at the invitation of a friend who enjoyed my writing style on an Internet support group for former Jehovah’s Witnesses. She started the “fruitage of the Spirit” blog to express her Christian faith and I was honored to utilize it’s space for that purpose as well. But I always considered it “her” blog. Then in 2010, I began writing for the monthly newsletter for Witnesses for Jesus, Inc. where “Julie’s Corner” is reserved to report on things associated with our ministry. There were times I wanted to write on topics in both those venues, but out of respect for the owners of those accounts, I declined. Knowing there are beliefs I hold that are not shared by them. I didn’t want my commentaries to reflect negatively on their sites. But a writer writes, and without a venue to do so, a writer gets blocked. So it’s time to get naked again. Can’t say I didn’t warn ya!
I know the things I’m prone to write about and most of it is of a spiritual nature. So that’s the first warning. If words like God, Jesus, Spirit, Religion, Bible, Faith, or Prayer are offensive to you, don’t bother reading this blog. You’ve been alerted to the content. Would you rent a porno movie just so you can criticize it saying “this is disgusting, I can’t see how anyone can watch this!” No, you’d simply refuse to view it. Now, you may walk past an advertisement for it and can’t help but notice the cover, but the option remains yours to watch it or not. The same applies here. I can’t control if someone shares the link and it shows up in your newsfeed, but it’s a link that you do not have to open. And the title reminds you that you can indeed go away, because I’m naked. For those who’ve enjoyed my writing over the years, I’m thankful and hope you find more to relish, but please know that I’m writing out of the need to write and organize my thoughts, I’m not writing to you. I’m not trying to persuade you to believe the things I hold dear, but you’re welcome to see who I am. Be warned that you may be offended because there are no boundaries here but my own. If anyone needs further warning, I’m more than happy to provide this disclaimer.
- I will declare my love for Jesus Christ, if that offends you…GO AWAY, I’M NAKED!
- I will declare my love for Bible reading and what I get out of it, if that offends you…GO AWAY, I’M NAKED!
- I will write about my prayer life, if that offends you…GO AWAY, I’M NAKED!
- I will share actual journal entries and prayers, if that offends you…GO AWAY, I’M NAKED!
- I will write about my fulfilled view and even use the “P” word, if that offends you… GO AWAY, I’M NAKED!
- I will write about my past in the Watchtower Society, if that offends you…GO AWAY, I’M NAKED!
- I will write about experiences in the counter cult ministry, if that offends you…GO AWAY, I’M NAKED!
- I will share my humor in various forms, if that offends you…GO AWAY, I’M NAKED!
- I will share my love for kayaking and camping, if that offends you…GO AWAY, I’M NAKED!
- I will share my love for skinny dipping, I KNOW that will offend you…GO AWAY, I’M NAKED!
- I will share entries from other venues in which I’ve written, if that offends you…GO AWAY, I’M NAKED!
- I may end up writing about my dog, my family, the unique house my husband built, if that offends you…GO AWAY, I’M NAKED!
- I may end up posting pictures of my artwork or creative ideas that float around, if that offends you…GO AWAY, I’M NAKED!
- I may end up being me, and of course that attracts as many as it offends. But that is the call of each of us. You be you, I’ll be me.
Knowing that because this blog is mine and mine alone I am not dishonoring anyone else by pushing the limitations set for their own blog. This baby’s mine and it comes with a warning: IF Ya Don’t Wanna See It…GO AWAY, I’M NAKED!
I am thankful for the people that have allowed me to unveil my thoughts on their blogs and am indebted to the readers who’ve encouraged me to continue writing because they like what they see. Some have told me that I put into words the thoughts of their heart. I consider that a gift from our Creator, how dare I keep it hidden for the sake of a few critics? Every gift is meant to be shared and I am blessed when others share their gifts with me. I trust a few will subscribe and be blessed. It is, after all, intended to be shared. However, if I succeed in offending enough people, then this blog will have served it’s grander purpose of not needing to be read by anyone but an audience of One, for God is the only one who isn’t offended when we dare to share who we are becoming. For all are naked before Him (Hebrews 4:13).
Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie