Cheers to you!
Have you ever seen something/someone in a new way so powerful it was a revelation? That happened with me recently with the story of Adam and Eve. You see, I REALLY like being “right”. If knowledge is power, I’m great at using it for my benefit. When my wife and I “disagree”, the go-to response I have to work to avoid is using my intellect to defend myself and better her. The tale of Adam and Eve, though, I believe shows us the richest life isn’t about how much we “know” intellectually, but how fully we’re known and know others relationally!
At the beginning of Adam and Eve’s story in Genesis 2.16-3.13 (the part most relevant to this topic), right after God forbids people from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we see our Creator lamenting how lonely Adam is by himself, as it’s not good for people to be alone. So, the Source of goodness creates Eve, and we get a picture of the prototypical human couple “naked and unashamed” as they relate with one another and God. It appears when they lived in a space of fully knowing and being known, without judgment, they lived in a place of communal delight (note, while not all this is literally in Genesis, it’s what many read from the story).
Into this flow of trust, authenticity, vulnerability, and the deep joy and harmony that come with it, a crafty snake drops some knowledge on the couple. The serpent both raises the possibility that God is holding back on the couple, so isn’t to be trusted, and tempts them with how delicious it is to know things others do not. They bite, and after initially being stoked at how good it feels to hold the knowledge of judging good and bad, Adam and Eve quickly move to a space of shame. They realize how scary it is to be naked physically, relationally, and/or spiritually when others (or themselves) use their intellect to criticize, compare, and evaluate the successes and faults of their bodies, ideas, and interactions.
While if you read the story in the Bible, you’ll see how I’m making some leaps, I hope you’ll also agree I’m being faithful to the text. What’s more, it’s not that knowing things is bad or wrong, I’m just pointing out it pales in comparison to being fully known by others. In the both beautiful and heartbreaking scene that follows, as Adam and Eve are hiding in their shame, we see God walking around asking, “where are you?”, because the Divine endlessly pursues each of us for the pleasure of face-to-face connection.
When the Creator asks them what happened, they immediately go to finger pointing and blaming, because when we value being right over right relationship it’s nearly impossible to admit when we’re wrong, so we accuse others and point out his/her faults instead. A problem with this is the less we own our crap and shift the blame, the more disintegrated we become. If being fully and freely known by others (which includes God in my book) and knowing them in the same way is at the heart of what life is all about, and I believe it is, then it’s essential we reveal and Love ALL of ourselves to one another, triumphs and faults! This is what an integrated and wholehearted life looks like.
I don’t know about you, but Adam and Eve are like mirrors for me. When something goes wrong, my first impulse is to blame others. I LOVE BEING RIGHT! So, when my wife and I disagree, the easiest path for me is to “lovingly” tell her how she’s wrong. Yikes! While the only junk I can own is mine, I don’t think I’m alone in this, as we see this dynamic play out in politics, religion, sports, communities, families, and more all the time.
While it’s not bad to be right, it pales in comparison to being known. As much as I’m addicted to the intoxication of being correct, today I’m choosing to learn from Adam and Eve and pick relationship, connection, knowing others, and being known instead … and I invite you to join me!
(The photo at the top of my wife and I is the awesome work of her daughter-in-law Stephanie Madson)
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