Fully Known and Fully Clothed
By Kerri Lynn Jerema
We are pleased to introduce Kerri Jerema who is guest blogging for us this month. Kerri has recently published Closed Wounds, Open Hands with us, which is available through the Word Alive Press Bookstore, and everywhere fine Christian books are sold. We asked Kerri to share a little bit about her writing, and what she has been up to since her book came off the press. But first, a little bit about her
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After recently releasing my first book, an honest memoir plumbing the depths of my wounded soul, a book about the enneagram found its way into my hands. Like the sweet mandarin tea I set aside each night for the twilight hours, when my mind’s sole responsibility is to frolic inside the ideas of another, I have spent the last few weeks letting the enneagram steep. As far as I can gather, the purpose of its existence is knowing oneself deeply and honestly. It is a spiritual archeological process of sorts, one that closely resembles my past three years—up to my knees in dirt, uncovering old fossils, and slowly piecing myself together. At the time, I did not have the enneagram as a tool; however, my spirit-led quest for soul well-being brought me through the laborious process of uncovering old bones that had been pressed deep within my own earthy layers. If you know the enneagram, you know what I mean. If you do not, simply imagine standing in front of a full-length mirror, in fluorescent lighting, completely naked. That’s the enneagram. That’s what it’s like to have your soul unveiled. At first glance, there is a lot to take in. Enough, in fact, to necessitate the rash throwing-on of the nearest bathrobe, or your husband’s crumpled up, day-old, work shirt. Whatever covers up the aging, dimpled skin reflecting back at you.
No matter how forgiving the lighting or what kind of exercise regime I keep up, the mirror attests to the fact that I am inherently, hopelessly, flawed. And not just physically. The trouble, I have learned, is when I spend efforts concealing my imperfections, rather than knowing and embracing them. King David reverberated this truth when he bellowed:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” (Psalm 129:23)
David knew, from failed experience, that his heart needed to be searched and each damp and darkened corner illuminated. He also knew he was incapable of accomplishing this feat on his own. He needed help; someone with an outsider perspective who saw the bigger picture. Like a perfect Father.
As a parent myself, I understand that I have perspective my children do not. And I have come to realize, or perhaps accept, that some of my most important work as a parent is wooing my children out from behind their own veils, revealing to them their God-given strengths and God-allowed weaknesses.
Take my seven-year-old son, for example. He awakes each day with a passion for life that I can only imagine beats like a troupe of wild monkeys inside his chest. In the enneagram world, he might be a 7. The enthusiast. Consequently, his personality avoids hard truths and difficulty, in essence all pain. When I ask him to sit down to read or write or do any one of the things his dyslexia chaffs against, his jaws stretch wide like a ravenous lion attempting to tare straight through my composure. On my worst and weary days, truth be told, I balk at what I see and resort to shaming him for defying. But on my luminous and lustrous days, when the Holy Spirit aflame in me gives strength, I do not turn away. I run toward his defiance and hold him while he’s held captive in it, understanding that my knowledge and acceptance of who he is may embolden him to lift the veils that shroud his soul. Because only in knowing, can we find the courage to accept. And only in accepting, are we positioned to humbly ask for help—help that is both promised and effective to overcome the unpleasantness within us, because “God is greater than our hearts” (1 John 3:20).
Over the past three years, God has been this kind of Father to me, only unlike me, He never balks at what He sees, despite the anger, resentment, jealousy, or greed that lingers in my soul. He does not grow weary of my flaws. On the contrary, He runs His fingers along each dint and divot of my soul, patiently teaching me all the intricacies behind my blemishes so that one day I will know, without a doubt, it was Him who worked my every weakness for good.
My perfect Father is One who knows I could not, would not, comprehend the fullness of His love until I saw just how far I’d fallen and how wide the chasm was that separated us. It took my darkest night, when I fell a thousand feet into the cavern of my soul for me to see just how steep the climb. And while I kicked hard against the goads, like a turbulent toddler, my ever-patient Father held me securely in His love—a love so high and deep and wide it sent His Son to take upon Himself the punishment all my flaws necessitate. That through Christ’s dying the cup of wrath might overflow, instead, with grace, washing and transforming the uncomely reflection I bear witness to.
It was His all-knowing, all-encompassing love that bid me to humbly draw back the curtains of my soul. And when I saw my nakedness—my sin—Christ shamed me not, but rather, clothed me with Himself (Galatians 3:27).
Clothed by Christ—what majesty, what splendour! There is no thread count high enough on earth for me to perceive the luxuriousness of Christ. Surely, if my human fingers but grazed the velvety fringe of his heavenly robe, I would count all hand-stitched clothing I’ve worn—power, position, privilege—as rags. Simply by seeing and acknowledging the sinful condition of my soul, I am clothed in a righteousness too faultless to ever sew together for myself.
Perhaps, you still fear your own nakedness—your flaws. I, too, have lived inside the claustrophobic fear of knowing and being known, unaware that there is One who waits with readied arms to cloak me with His righteousness.
The tendency remains to run and hide, like Adam and Eve, frantically groping for foliage to cover the parts of us most vulnerable. We forget our God—our Father—is one who sees. He is, after all, the One who knit us together in our mother’s womb, bearing witness to our every foible. It is we who stand before the full-length mirror with shielded eyes, daring not to look at what He conscientiously created. In our folly, we foolishly forget our hand-spun veils are deciduous and fading fast. There is another choice! Let God be your perfect Father. Allow His love to woo you from behind your coverings and watch, with inexpressible gratitude, as He clothes your nakedness with Christ—a glorious countenance ever-lasting.
To read more of Kerri Lynn Jerema’s writing and wonderings, please visit her website to request a copy of her latest book Closed Wounds Open Hands.
About this Contributor:
Kerri Lynn Jerema is an apprenticing disciple of Christ, adoring wife, and enthusiastic mother to her two animated children. She holds a degree in Education from the University of Manitoba. She lives in Morden, MB with her family.