Dan and I are preparing to go to Mexico on vacation, and I’ve been dreading seeing my glowing white skin in a swimsuit. I’ve got naturally fair skin, and it’s positively radiant this time of year, not having seen sunlight for at least 5 months.
Before our wedding, I caved to my coworkers’ advice and went tanning. Having vowed never to join the ranks of the tanorexics, I felt like a traitor as I donned the strange looking bug eyed goggles and smooshed my naked body into the glowing machine. The tanning bed was my last resort after seeing that my white wedding dress looked darker than I was.
Instead of visiting the tanning salon, I decided to try another approach this time. I’m getting my tan from a bottle.
As he watched me slather the lotion all over myself, Dan made a very surprising (and slightly insulting) remark: “Who are you going to fool, anyway?”
He was right. I’ve been doing this for the past several days now, and so far, I’ve turned a slight orange-brown color. It’s not quite a tan, but at least I’m not brilliant white. I don’t think that anybody would assume that I’m a native Mexican, though, and I think that was his point.
I recently listened to a sermon that my pastor delivered on Genesis 3, the chapter on the fall of man. Pastor Mark went into detail about man’s use of “fig leaves” to hide and cover sins, which really don’t hide anything from the omniscient and omnipresent God (click here to listen to the sermon).
I wonder if my tan from a tube is a sort of “fig leaf.” I’m using it to cover the fact that I’m not exactly perfect, that I fall short of the ideal.
When Dan asked me who I was trying to fool, he had a great point. I certainly wasn’t going to fool him because he was standing there, watching me smear the smelly junk on myself every night. The people at the resort are going to spot a fake bake from a mile away (I don’t think the sun typically turns people orange.).
But I can’t seem to bring myself to stop using the lotion. I guess I’m a tanorexic afterall. I suppose it’s the same reason I can’t stop using the other fig leaves in my life, things I realize aren’t fooling anybody, not even myself.
For example, if I’m having a bad day on Sunday, that fake smile I put on my face the moment I enter church, that’s a fig leaf. I have a curtain over the entry to my kitchen that I close if there are unexpected visitors, and it’s a mess in there. That’s one of my favorite fig leaves.
I think we all have fake tans or fig leaves, means of covering our sins to try to fool God, ourselves, and others into thinking we’re better than we are. The challenge is to recognize that we don’t need them and that we’re fooling nobody. We just look silly, orange, and worse off than before.
Oh God, may I have the humility to approach you as I am, to take off the shameful coverings that keep me from being authentic and real.