Bathing In Black

Most American women have spent their past few months 21-Day-Fixing or Whole-30ing or getting ready for swimsuit season in some form or fashion. I, on the other hand, have been quite sedentary, sitting in our dark bedroom doing taxes and drinking exorbitant amounts of coffee. Every evening, after working hard at mothering and taxes, I would treat myself with a small (or not so small, depending on the day) scoop of ice cream.

That being said, as everyone else is rushing to Target for Lilly bathing suits or some other cute, stringy floral or striped bikini, I will be dusting off the good old classy black one piece I rock. In fact, I rock it so well that I have three versions of the same simple black suit.

I choose to bath in black because black is forgiving, as I found myself explaining to G’Joe yesterday as we were painting our deck banister. You see, the wood on our deck railing has been used and abused by dogs and children and objects like bats and golf clubs and the other shrapnel of everyday life with boys. He was worried the the wood would need to be sanded multiple times. “Black is forgiving, it hides things so well,” I said as I slapped on a coat of paint sans sanding.

The rest of the painting project, I was struck by how true those words are. Black is forgiving. It hides the dents and dings in wood, just as it semi-hides the muffin top and spare skin on my body. It is easier to sink into the background, to cover up flaws, to not stand out on a black backdrop.

As in bathing suits, so in the spiritual life. It is easier to look together, to look fit and healthy against a dark background. So long as I set people or culture or some other human standard as my measuring mark, I can fool myself into thinking I am healthier than I really am.

But as always, the Bible prescribes something much more risky and intrusive, yet far more freeing and healthy than hiding or covering up on a dark backdrop.

Jesus invites us to walk toward the blindingly beautiful yet exceedingly uncomfortable backdrop of the light of holiness. “Those who practice the truth come to the light that their deeds may be exposed (John 3: 21). Rather than hiding and faking it until we make it, Jesus invites to take trembling steps toward the holiness of God which always uncovers the flaws, the shortcomings and the fears we try so hard to cover up.

But here is the magical part, in the midst of the full exposure, we are truly accepted and forgiven, loved and enjoyed, welcomed and known. He has seen it all, and His love is not budging because Jesus did not budge from the Cross.

We are free to wear the floral print proverbial bathing suit, flaws and all, in full confidence. We can bask in His beautiful light, unafraid of our flaws being found out. After all, He already knows them all and loves us anyway. Why should we hover in the darkness if the Light Himself has accepted us?

Against all odds, it ends up that brightness is far more forgiving than black.

That being said, I think I will still bathing in black this year. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.

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