“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence” Genesis 2:25 Amplified Bible
When I moved to the United Sates from Jamaica in 1988 I was surprised that the thing I missed most was not the warm weather or traditional Jamaican food. This is saying a lot because I live in the California Central Valley aka, Jamaican food Siberia, between two and five hours away from the nearest hard-dough bread, yellow yam, ackee with saltfish and so on!
No, what I missed most was the feeling of belonging. I missed my community; those women and men who made up my inner circle of friends with whom I could, figuratively speaking, be “naked and not embarrassed or ashamed”.
They saw me through my best and my worst, rejoiced with me and cried with me, praised me and lovingly corrected me. After years of doing life within this tight-knit group, I knew I could trust them to be a ‘safe place’ for me and to love me unconditionally.
Looking back I can see now that my community also sheltered me from having to face my greatest weakness and vulnerability. Separated by 3,000+ miles and the ridiculous cost of international calls the insecurities and fear that imprisoned me for so much of my life were mercilessly exposed, and I had nowhere to hide.
My first reaction was not to deal with my issues, but to desperately seek the cover and shelter of a replacement community as quickly as possible. The result was a mixed bag of foolish mistakes, hard truths, and painful lessons.
Thankfully, facing, and doing the hard work of dealing with my insecurities ultimately led to freedom from the tyranny of my fears of never measuring up, never living up to expectations, never being good enough, and not deserving to be loved well.
I learned that I ought not, and will not be “naked” with EVERYONE! I accept the challenge to love all people, but if my life is my dwelling place, there are really only a few that can be welcomed into the sanctuary of my ‘house’ and be privy to my deepest concerns and vulnerabilities. Some need to be ‘porch’ people, others ‘yard’ people, and others, particularly those with destructive tendencies, need to stay on the ‘street’ and be loved over the ‘fence’.
Years later, thanks to Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media, contact with my original community is more frequent, easier, cheaper, as authentic as ever, and, sometimes to their dismay, the new, free me can be even more “naked and not embarrassed or ashamed”.
The greatest blessing has been the expansion of my community with new house, porch, yard and even street people with potential. So these days it is a very good thing that what I miss most about Jamaica IS the perpetually warm weather, AND the food! Thankfully, I have a plane ticket to go back at Christmas, so till then I’m …just living the thing.