What I learned from being naked

I was not quite prepared for what had just been asked. I didn’t know whether to laugh as I reflected on the question posed. It was my first time meeting with this new friend who had reached out after coming across FlatOnMyBack.com. This guy was looking into medical school and was curious about specifics concerning my physical status over the last five years. Then he hit me with a curveball: “Is it weird being naked in front of random people like nurses?”

I guess this is awkward placement for a visual...

I guess this is awkward placement for a visual…

I hesitated. Come to think of it, the thought had barely crossed my mind in years. I’ve become so accustomed to others assisting me throughout my day that it had not dawned on me that someone might find my nakedness around others a bit unusual. It got me reflecting though on just how dependent I am on others.

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of someone else dressing me, showering me, and feeding me.

I’m not thrilled with having the start of my day being dictated on the timeliness of a nurse who, if doesn’t show up, leaves me flat on my back staring at the ceiling while waiting for someone else to help me get out of bed.

Mexican meal

I sure didn’t envision having to say that I live with my parents as a 25-year-old or the fact that I’m depending on them for nearly everything.

I don’t like the fact that going out to dinner with my girlfriend consists not only of her driving me there, but feeding me as well.

I simply hate having someone else make me food and do my laundry… Actually on second thought, I can definitely tolerate that one.

From getting into bed at night to a simple scratch of my nose, I am relying on those around me at all times. Having my independence as a college student ripped away from me in a split second was shocking at first. I may have gotten numb to some of it, but I wouldn’t say I have embraced it.

While I may not enjoy all of these scenarios, being in a position of dependence has taught me a valuable life lesson.

In “The Problem of Pain,” CS Lewis says, “Pain shatters the illusion that all is well, shatters the illusion that what we have, whether good or bad in itself, is our own and enough for us.” I would take that a step further and say that being dependent has shattered the illusion that I thought I could do it on my own in first place.

Sure, I could physically take care of myself and put my best foot forward to achieve what looked like success, but it was all a ruse. I don’t think there is a more deluded demographic than guys in their 20s. Independent. Self-sufficient. Self-made. All-knowing. Invincible. I had fallen into the trap. The truth is, I was oblivious to the fact that I was in need of a Savior. Had the path I stayed on continued, it would have been a nice comfortable life… But then what? What would my purpose have been? Would there have been any substance?

What does it look like to depend on God rather than try to do it all on my own? I believe the answer lies in the reality of where I am putting my hope. Is my hope in another person? A savings account? A job lining up? Is my hope in myself? If my hope is anywhere other than in God and who He says He is, I am ultimately going to wind up disappointed.

My dad and I styling in the 80s

My dad and I styling in the 80s

Jesus says to have faith like a child and to approach God as a father. I envision that as myself as a kid looking admiringly up at my dad. Although unable to do much to take care of myself, there was no question in my mind that “dad knew everything” and that I was safe with him. Most importantly, I had faith my dad was in control and I believed that was a good thing.

When I am able to use my current dependence on other people as a reminder of my ultimate dependence on God, then I am getting it right. While I don’t plan on always being physically dependent, understanding my dependence on God was worth the lesson.

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Contact info: Ryan.S.Atkins@Gmail.com
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  1. Anne Hoffmann said:

    Thanks for the great post; always reminds me to remember what is important!


  2. I really love this post and I’m glad you brought up this virtue of dependence. I think about reading this book called “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn. In the book, it talks about how the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was actually a stalk of wheat. Man’s fall from grace, original sin, is the invention of agriculture; the rejection of God’s providence. We don’t need God to provide food in the garden when we can make our own food as we “toil in the earth”. By gaining “independence” from God, man became dependent on working and paradise was lost. I recommend the book; it has a cult following in the environmentalist world, but is definitely a good philosophical read.


    • Chas, sounds like an interesting read. I had never heard of the fall being looked at in that way but definitely lines up with our craving for independence from God. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for this recommendation.


  3. Love the picture of you with your dad! Wish I could find the pic of you as a little boy sitting on my lap at a Red’s Game!


  4. Karen Woelk said:

    Dependence on God and interdependence with people = how we are created to be. You speak for me Ryan. Love, Karen


  5. Love this! It’s funny what we can get used to. I don’t think twice about certain aspects but friends are absolutely horrified at the concept of some of the things we have to do.

    Love your outlook on life, positivity, humility, and reliance on God. I strive to emulate that in my own life 🙂


  6. Matt Massey said:

    great post. I think its one of your best….to me that is. I know this stuff is subjective. Matt


  7. Andra Weaver said:

    Just wabted ti ket you know that I shared your February 12 post about “measuring up” with the women on the mission field in Senegal. David spoke to them about the meaning and source of success and I think your words really helped it gel for them. It is a tough field, with little fruit on this side of heaven, so struggling with that question was so relevant for them. Thank you for all of your insights – always. You bless me and you blessed them.



  8. Andra Weaver said:

    Ouch – not my keyboard! translation: Just wanted to let you know……LOL!


    • Thanks for sharing this Andra. Definitely a lesson I am continuing to learn. Pretty cool to hear those words being shared on another continent.


  9. Virginia Wilson said:

    good word, Ryan. undoubtedly a tough lesson, especially for people who seem to have ‘everything coming up roses’. I got knocked off my saddle perhaps because I was 1 of 14 children. In my family, being ‘independent’ was engrained and just seemed ‘normal’. there was no way that Mom and / or Dad could do everything that I needed. Losing that stubborn independence was a very, very tough lesson… but as you’ve said, it is well worth it.


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