I don't let God see me naked.
When I was five years old I prayed every day that Michael from Sunday School would be my first kiss. I daydreamed of boys, and holding hands, and kissing under the Midwestern canopy of Ozark trees in my home of Missouri. I prayed for these things the same way I prayed for healing when I got stomach aches and bruises on my legs.
At age 10, I prayed that I would be spared of getting my period until I was at least 14. I prayed my boobs would grow as fast as my sister’s had. I prayed that Caleb with the curly hair would have a crush on me.
At what age did I no longer allow God to play part in my sexual identity?
When I began middle school, I started my period on a field trip and did not tell a soul. Though God didn't answer my prayer of sparing me until high school, he answered my prayer when I begged to not bleed through my pants that day.
It wasn’t until I heard other girls whisper about how weird it was for someone to have already started at our age that I realized periods had to be a secret.
At age 12 I got my first mutual crush. It spread into age 13, but I never wanted to make a big deal of it—not once I realized that the Christian kids I was supposed to emulate didn't think highly of romantic endeavors. I didn't want people to know much about our sweet puppy love, out of fear of being called a slut. We had our first kiss that year. I made him promise not to tell his friends. But, regardless, I had already been labeled a slut before I even had my first kiss.
I stopped coming to God about my crushes.
Once I entered high school, my shame grew. My church was not welcoming to the idea of dating or physical signs of affection. At 15, I kissed a boy I liked from youth group. I cried hysterically when his parents found out. I recall being told by other moms that I was a negative influence on their sons. My mom asked me why it was exciting when I got my first kiss at 13 but not exciting when I got this kiss from this boy. “It’s because I know more now,” I thought. “It’s because it's wrong… because who I am is wrong.”
At age 17 I thought I was in love with a new boy whom I also met at church. This boy once made me go back home and change my outfit because I “looked like a prostitute”. I realized that—in order to love my God with all my heart, soul, and mind—I must regard my body,and especially my sexuality, with some level of shame.
I found that I could come to God fully in spirit. He understood, supported, and delighted in every intricate part of my soul. But I could not come to God physically as a teenage girl. We were destined for intimacy until my physicality played a part.
The church tells us that God treasures us delicate women, but no one dares to think that God wants our primal selves—bleeding, aching, craving sex like every other being.
No man can see me naked or else it is “sin”. Somewhere along those lines, I adopted the theology that even God himself cannot see me naked. The truth of womanhood is something so disgusting and unholy that the eyes of the righteous must not know.
But what if the creator of the vessel which is woman loved it enough to maintain it? What if that which made my body understands its needs? What if God wants to be called on by young women asking for breasts, praying against menstruation, and begging for reciprocated sexual attraction from boys their age? What if God has been waiting for the invitation to be part of both our spiritual and physical lives all this time? What if God feels praised by a woman shouting his name during sex? What if all things natural and all things female are also treasured by God?
What if God isn’t as afraid of seeing me naked as I am afraid of being naked before him?