Dear Naked Lady,
When it first occurred to me to write to you, in a passing thought, it seemed a crazy idea. But the more I let the thought play in my mind, as an option, the more I realized that I want to do it… it matters.
I’ll start with an introduction, so you know who I am, in advance. I love Jesus. That’s the first thing about me. (And who wouldn’t love Him? A kind man, who heals, forgives, brings hope and love to all… yes, even to naked ladies… and Bare Naked Ladies too. He loves the whole lot of us, equally, whether we love Him or not.) Yes, I love Jesus, and I love naked ladies too, in the same way Jesus loves you; I care about your heart. And I even love the Bare Naked Ladies, but not so much their music, but that’s just my personal preference. The second thing about me is, I love my family. I have a husband who means everything in the world to me, and five children I love and am proud of. They’re amazing children, and if I can say that when they are teens, and have desire to strangle them, that’s pretty good, they tell me. We do human things like get frustrated with each other, treat each other with less love than deserved, and hurt each other. But we forgive and we keep loving. Finally, I am surrounded by family and friends who love me, and whom I love. I consider myself to be one of the most blessed and lucky women alive. I work with victims of sexual abuse and violence, rebuilding the broken places, restoring lost identity, and offering hope. Anything else there is to know about me is probably fluff. Some of it is good, some of it is bad. Either way, none of it defines me.
The reason ‘knowing me’ matters, is because it influences the ‘why’ of this letter to an unknown naked lady. You see, I try to be an affirming and loving influence and presence in the lives of the people I mentioned in my previous paragraph. But I find myself in some cases having to first spend some time with you, before I can even get close to their hearts. You have come between some of us, not because I’ve stopped loving, or because I judge those who spend time with you, but because it is an inevitable barrier of shame and guilt, when people spend time with you. Not only does it makes us–the real live, non-airbrushed, and a bit wrinkled and imperfect ones…not to mention fully-clothed–seem imperfect, it also robs our sons, daughters, husbands and wives of innocence and intimacy.
Let me tell you the story of how it first touched our family… At age eight, one of our children was exposed to Triple-X Porn, when an older neighbourhood child suggested going into his house while his parents were away. Oblivious to what had happened, we observed changes in our child’s behaviour. A once affectionate child–generous with hugs and offering occasional kisses–suddenly resented me, but continued to accept both from Daddy. (As a female, I represented the violation that video imposed on my child. It was only women, no men.) For years we struggled, watching our child go from sweet, affectionate and carefree, to lying, deceptive and distant.
Those years I grieved and prayed. And every now and then, when my heart felt heavy, still not knowing what happened, I would go to my child’s room, sit on the edge of the bed and speak truth… “You are God’s child, full of integrity… I believe in you… I’m proud of you…” And then I would keep on praying.
One day, through a bizarre set of circumstances, the truth spilled out. Our child had gotten into trouble–pretty big trouble, really–and we had a conversation. We weren’t angry, and offered no scolding. It was a calm affair of walking through it, to help our child find peace and take ownership. As we wrapped up the conversation I asked if there was anything else, anything at all… we’d get it all out in the open and start fresh. And that’s when the story tumbled out…. and the ugly things witnessed at eight–things no child, or adult should have to see or know, things so unnatural and perverse the mind can hardly fathom it…
That day we got our child back. The lying stopped. The distance was gone. Just like that. But we lost years of closeness because of one careless moment, two naked ladies, and a child in our neighbourhood.
A few years went by and one day we discovered that another child found your picture using a Nintendo DS, after hearing about you at school. We caught it by accident, soon after our child met you, so we didn’t lose years of our life together because of it. But I’d like to tell you how that conversation went.
I picked up our child at school and announced we’d be going for coffee. We went to a nice little place in a local city and said to order anything… anything at all. One strawberry shake, a chicken quesadilla and a piece of New York style cheesecake later, we seated ourselves and I shared what would be the topic.
“You know, Mom,” my child said, “you’re not very good at tricking.”
“How’s that?” I asked.
“Well, as soon as you said we’re going for coffee, I knew why,” my child answered.
I explained that I wasn’t trying to trick or surprise anyone, but wanted to give a bit of space for quiet contemplation on the ride, rather than diving in immediately. (At least let’s get some food in front of us, for a distraction if nothing else, before we tackle this!)
The appetite was a bit lacking at first, until I explained there would be no scolding or ‘correction’. It would be a conversation about how to get through this, and how Daddy and I could help. I told my child how natural it is to be curious–same gender and opposite gender–and that curiosity is not something to feel badly about. It is God-given. And then I talked about managing it well, with honour and integrity, and saving the fulfillment of that desire and curiosity for marriage. (Yes, I’m old fashioned that way. More importantly, I care enough about my children’s hearts and minds to not wish them the scars I carry. And they know I wasn’t much of a saint, that way. In fact, I contemplated at seventeen doing what you do–exposing my nakedness to make money, but my self esteem was so low I was sure no one would want to see my body. Thank God. In a way. Though it would have been so much better had I known I was too valuable to go there. But back to my story…)
My child listened intently, eyes wide, and heart troubled, as I explained these things. We taught our children about sex, body and that uncomfortable and awkward stuff that happens when we become adults. They know. Even so, when I asked if it ever occurred to come talk to Daddy or me, I was greeted with a shaking head.
“So what did you do with it?” I asked. A shrug was all I got. “Did you talk to God about it?” This time a nod. “Do you know you are forgiven? Do you know He loves you?” More nods. “What else did you say?” I asked.
“I asked Him to help me stop!” Big tears welled up, lips quivering.
“And how did you feel when He didn’t answer, and you kept on struggling?” I asked. (Remember, this is a child not yet a teen, at the time of the event. This is a child, begging God for help to stop looking at your naked body, because it feels so violating.)
The tears, they just got bigger, and the lips quivered more, then pain spilled down my child’s face, landing on my heart like sharp little knives, cutting places no mother’s heart should be cut… “I got impatient.” The words, spoken softly, almost desperately, broke what was left in my inner place.
“You do know God answered that prayer, right?” I asked.
Quizzically, almost doubting, and then it connected, “With you and Daddy?”
“Yes!” I said, “We’re here for you now. It wasn’t a mistake that Daddy found the pictures. It was God answering your prayer!”
The nodding continued, between bites of quesadilla and tears bubbling over to wash them down, and I could see something good happeneing. “God makes something beautiful out of everything,” I said. “Do you believe that? Even this, He will make something beautiful out of it.”
Doubt, head tipped to the side, “I don’t understand.”
“You know,” I said, “I think He already has! We’re having this conversation and Daddy and I could have not known, and you could have struggled for a long time. And now we’re walking with you through these years in a way we maybe wouldn’t have, because we like to think our children are innocent, and we want you to be, and sometimes we miss the struggles. So this is already beautiful, isn’t it?”
“I guess,” was the answer, but my heart heard something deeper, as the last of the quesadilla disappeared and the cheesecake extended its invitation. We chatted awhile about other things, and my little one was visibly at peace. We agreed that if temptation hit, a device would land in front of me, or in my hands, with no explanation–if there were no words or desire to talk–and I would take care of it, and ‘know’. And it is the knowing that makes all the difference.
So, you see, my naked lady friend, we’ve had you in our lives for some time, off and on–many years, already–and I thought it was time to write and introduce ‘us’. We are not angry with you. We do not hate you. We don’t resent you, or look down on you. We would prefer to hang a towel or blanket over you when you visit, but not because you are disgusting and thoughtless.
We think you are beautifully created by God, fearfully and wonderfully made–and that is what I tell my children. And we think you don’t understand just how beautiful you are. We think that the desire to ‘know’ you and see you, is blessed by God, in the context of His plan, so we are not repulsed by you, or that desire. I am writing to remind you of who you are: beautiful, precious, loved by God, and worth so much more than the ‘thing’ you have become on screen–an object of lust. An object. Your heart… somewhere in your heart, I hope you grasp that.
And just as I told my child, I tell you now, “God redeems everything, my naked lady friend. Everything. If you let Him. He is a gentleman who will not force you, or abuse you. But if you let Him, He will redeem your life, your nakedness and lewdness. He makes all things beautiful in His time. He’d do that for you. If you let Him.”
I hope you never visit my family again as an object. I hope the next time we see you, it is in human form. And preferably dressed. Until then, my heart will continue to love, care and pray for you. Yes, I pray for you.
Here are two of my favourite songs… I didn’t pose naked for the camera, as you do, but I was no different than you…. And the only thing that makes me different today is that I know Jesus loves me: I’m still human and sinful, but redeemed. When you know that, my sister and friend, it will change everything. You will feel beautiful. God wastes nothing. You are beautiful! You are loved! You are precious! You are worthy… because of JESUS…
~ T ~
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