Saturday, April 28, 2012

Eve: Shame or Confidence

"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good."

And yet, in all the good He had created, there wasn't anything that fit Adam just right, until God created woman. Adam's reaction on seeing Eve gives us a glimpse of what a beautiful woman she was. He breaks into the first poetry of this new world, a beautiful verse that would be shared for generations to follow as the beginning of the first love story. Together, they were in the garden - with trees "that were pleasing to the eye and good for food," rivers, and verdant valleys. And they were naked, and knew no shame.

This nakedness is one part of life that they lost after their fall into sin. The purity and freedom they experienced in the bodies God had given them was marred by their sin before God. But women of God, I ask you what it would look like to stand in front of the mirror each morning and be naked and unashamed. I am in right relationship with God, thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus - and yet, I look at my body and feel shameful. There is always something to find flaw in - the new acne popping up on my nose, that bulge so kindly called a "love handle," the scars on my hips that don't mark adventurous mishaps but rapid weight gain. I look at myself and try to come up with a new way to hide. Some days, it's baggy clothes and a hat, to hide my figure by blending into the background. Other days, I go the extra mile and pick out a great outfit and makeup, hoping their beauty will mask what is underneath. Eve grabbed some fig leaves and learned how to sew mighty quickly so that she could hide from God. I find it interesting though that nothing changed about her outward appearance that induced this rapid sewing frenzy - rather, a change had taken place in her heart and soul. When sin entered in, so did shame and the need to cover herself; to hide from God, Adam, and her own self the body she was formerly so free in.

Today, we suffer much because of the original fall into sin. The shame we feel about our bodies is nothing new. It is a manifestation of the sinful self we are born into, inherited from the first woman who experienced this shame. But as we come to know Christ and His sacrifice for us, and grow in our relationship with Him, I think God wants us to learn to see even our bodies as a gift from Him. Obviously, I am not advocating a confidence that begets nudity running rampant in the church. But when we think about our own bodies, and look at ourselves in the mirror, I wonder if we can learn to live like Eve did before the fall into sin - naked and unashamed, because we know that our value lies in our Savior, not in our size. She knew that, and experienced freedom and oneness with God. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Best Friends

I miss having a best friend. I remember back in grade school how wonderful it felt when you and another girl mutually decided to be "best friends." At that age, friendships changed rapidly and a best friend didn't always keep that position in your life very long. But when they were present, it was the best feeling - to have someone to share everything in life with. Not only your secrets, but the activities you enjoyed, the silly jokes you made together, clothes and hair things. . . it was great.

Fast-forward 10 years. I've found that people my age still have best friends. However, this has started to take the form of a boyfriend or fiance or husband. The principle is the same - it feels great to have someone with which you can share life. Not only are you romantically drawn to this man, but you are also drawn in friendship. There is a bond of trust formed as you share secrets and walk through life together. He becomes your companion and supports you in the good and bad. We also have girl friends who take on this role in our life. Often they are accountability partners, classmates, or roommates. You find that one girl with whom you are comfortable to be yourself and share of yourself. Even as life becomes busier and busier, time with her is still a priority - not only because it brightens your day but because you love her and long to pour into her life.

Friendship is a vulnerable place to enter into, especially with a "best friend." The closer you become, the more potential there is for hurt. I've experienced that first hand, multiple times. And in the same way that having a companion in life is one of the most beautiful things in this life, being rejected or forgotten or set aside by someone you care for is one of the ugliest and most hurtful parts of life.

Right now, it seems like everyone else around me has a best friend. There is always at least one person who takes priority above me for each of my friends. It is a lonely feeling, to know that you aren't #1 in anyone's life. I remember this feeling from junior high and much of high school. . . longing for someone to share life with. And I have come to realize that this longing is not misplaced. We are made in the image of the Triune God and thus, wired for relationship. After all, God himself is in relationship with himself and the three persons that join together in relationship to form our God. This is something I find is imprinted on my soul and it's a desire I'm never going to be able to just ignore or push aside.

I've felt the most blessed in life when I've had a companion to share it with. But I'm beginning to see that perhaps the opposite is true. Maybe loneliness is a blessing because it allows me to learn to fulfill my desires with God. It's not impossible to do this when you do have earthly friendships and relationships . . . it's just harder. And if you are not in the habit of seeking God to fill the void in your life, those other friendships are never going to feel like enough. But as God takes on the role of Lover, companion, and best friend, I think we will find that our capacity to love and share life with others actually expands. Sharing God as your first love is the strongest bond any relationship can have.

I still miss my best friend terribly. I mourn the parts of my life that I shared, the seasons we went through together that will be lost forever to my happy memories. But Lord, teach me to use this time as a blessing and opportunity to fill my void and desires with your love, your friendship, your companionship. Be my secret-keeper, my counselor, one who desires me as I am.