Valentine's weekend! I welcome you with open arms this year. Also, and more importantly, we are entering into a time of reflection during the season of Lent. An interesting intersection of Hallmark and Holy. This week I'm diving into Genesis and learning more about love with each passing word. I ask for forgiveness in advance for any misspoken word-- I'm 99.99% perfect with a small margin for error (thanks for laughing).
And they heard the sound of the Lord God in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
A simple verse. The first glimpse into the downfall of humanity. The first glimpse into our love story.
My affection for story writing propels me to place myself in the center of this scene. "Cool" in Hebrew translates to "windy." A beautiful, breezy day in the Garden of Eden, with leaves, flowers, and other vegetation swaying in the presence of our mighty God. I can imagine it now-- the garden is glowing, vibrant greens and pinks and rich browns melting together. And there hiding amongst it, the flesh of man and woman.
Soon after God questions Adam and Eve about their sinful action, we find the well-known passage "for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Ash Wednesday. A day to remind us we are mortal and our dying hour will soon arrive. We're limited and this life is fleeting.
Fast forward to Valentine's Day. Truthfully this was not the motive of this post, but in the spirit of vulnerability, it made the cut. We've all come to know February 14th, a day filled with overwhelmingly outward expressions of like, love, and everything in between. A day dedicated to humans for humans. Our social media feeds saturated with images of high school sweethearts and freshly minted relationships. It stirs the thoughts of a single girl without a current spark of potential romantic relationship.
and the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Both of them together, husband and wife, now hyper-aware of their sinful nature. I imagine them hiding behind the brush, whispering to one another about their recent decision to eat of the forbidden fruit. Their cheeks warm with shame, their hearts heavy with realization.
I've always skimmed over this verse, yet as I pondered my own relationship status this weekend, the image felt more relatable than ever before. My hope for this post, whether you're currently single, dating, divorced, or in a fruitful marriage, is to be reminded of the common string that ties us all. The bottom line is none of us have "it"-- the ultimate "it" when we feel like our life is in perfect relational harmony. On our own or in partnership with another, we will always fall short.
I won't pose to understand marriage or serious romantic relationship as I've been single for quite some time (and do not feel qualified whatsoever to write on the topic)! There is one thing I do know-- I don't need a husband. My tongue burns as I say the words aloud (yes, I'm in public and I said it out loud). BLAH! His existence, whomever he may be, is not essential to my personal fulfillment. He will never pursue me with a relentless love like our God. He will always come up short.
On the same note, I will always fall short. Someone out there does not need me. I feel my pride and personal glory chip away with every click of my keyboard. "I would be an amazing girlfriend!", I impatiently think to myself. Why am I still on my own? Soon after I begin calculating my inflated strengths and potential offerings. I feel obedient in many facets of my life-- I can promise you this is not one of them.
And here, my friends, is where we can encourage one another to think differently. Where the perspective can pivot.
C.S. Lewis on Obedience
"(To have faith in Christ) means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a faint gleam of Heaven is already inside of you."
For many years I've thought of romanic relationships as the means to an end. I've imagined it as a channel to happiness, joy, contentment. A device to inject more color into my life. I've mustered up the makings of who he might be and the first words he would say and the love he would offer. An ideal I've used as my ultimate measuring tool, often times keeping God at a distance. Day by day, I sit in a waiting room, hoping for my name to be called. Waiting for "my time."
Since asking the Lord into my life, I've gently lost memory of what it means to wait in the midst of worry. In times of uncertainty, He shows up. Why would it change with my future relationships? He wants us to feel joy and excitement and utter delight. In the words of Shauna Niequist, "I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud." I think He wants this for us as well. My body is at rest knowing our Lord desires for us to be in love.
I'm learning I desire to pursue a relationship because there is already a glimmer of the ultimate relationship inside of me. I look forward to pursue someone as a reflection of the way God pursues me each and every day. I feel a pressure lifted from within. I've already been chosen! I'm being loved at 6:22 pm on a Saturday night. I desire to see my singleness as a side note, not an absence.
We see the image of despair through Adam and Even on that windy day in the Garden of Eden. Even together, they are broken. In the midst of this, we see the beginning of the best love story of all time. Man and woman becoming one in marriage is the celebration of a God who redeems and pieces us back together.
I'm asking my God to tell me my love story when I wake up each day, just as a parent tucks a child into bed every night. I hope, no matter your current relationship status, you'll feel encouraged to do the same.
I would love to hear what you all have to say on this topic. Feel free to send along an email if you feel inclined!