God longs for close encounters with you, but God equally longs for you to connect with others. The first negative statement uttered in Scripture comes from the lips of God while observing this fundamental truth, “It is not good for man to be alone.” What happens next cements God’s commitment for us to share in meaningful relationships with others. The second chapter of Genesis ends with this stunning statement, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
We were created to connect with others, but because of shame our default is to disconnect.
Can I tell you something you may not know about me, even if you know me? I was scared to death to ask my wife out on our first date. We attended the same college. I was a sophomore. She was a freshman. It was the spring semester, but we had first been introduced to each other through mutual friends early on during the fall semester.
There was one problem though – she had been out with several guys during the fall semester, and NONE of them made it past the first date!
I knew all of these guys. Most of them seemed like strong competition…er, I mean really good guys! I was so scared that I would be the next “victim” that it took me a good two months to finally ask her out! In fact for those two months I wouldn’t even consider asking her out. Instead I would just “hang out” with her. I figured if we weren’t going on a date – I had a better chance of making it!
But here’s the thing that really kept us from getting together sooner: it wasn’t her; it was me. I feared I wouldn’t be good enough.
This singular idea – of whether or not I am enough, what Brene Brown calls “the problem of scarcity”, is at the heart of whether or not we will allow ourselves to get close to someone else – close enough to engage or connect, or whether we will resort to our default positions and disconnect from others for fear we aren’t enough.
What amazes me about this truth is that it’s at the very heart of the very first sin. Do you remember what happens there? There is serpent who talks, and inevitably makes his way over to Eve and questions whether or not she and her husband Adam are able to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve responds that God has forbid them to do so.
Here’s where the story really comes to life for me – you’ve probably read it before, but like me, you may not have noticed how crafty serpent really is. It’s a scam still being run on us today – everyday actually – even when we’re like Eve and fail to see it at work. And here it is.
The serpent gets Eve to doubt – not God – but herself.
Look at what Eve says about the fruit. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.
Did you catch that? Eve thought that in eating this fruit she would somehow GAIN something she did not have. In other words, the serpent was successful in getting Eve to see something about her life as insufficient, as lacking, as NOT ENOUGH.
How many times do we feel the way we feel and do the things we do in order to escape the idea that we aren’t enough?
I see this at work in the lives of so many people (and certainly my own as well). I see it in the mom who works a full time job and says, “I’m never home enough” and in the stay at home mom who says,”I’m not patient enough.” I see it in the husband who says, “I don’t make enough.” I see it in the student trying to get into college who says, “I’m not smart enough.” I see it in the single girl who says, “I’m not thin enough” and I see it in the guy who says, “I’m not brave enough.”
The problem with not enough is at the heart of every form of jealousy, greed, prejudice, and insecurity under the sun, and the answer, as counter intuitive as it may seem, isn’t in gaining more or in having an abundance of things, but in believing that we already have enough.
Eve’s problem, and ours, occurs when we buy the lie that there is someone or something other than God who can give us more.
Here’s the thing about this that ultimately keeps us from connecting to each other – when we believe our lives are scarce, or not enough, we will ultimately give into the weight of shame, and when we give into the weight of shame we will be like Eve and Adam and begin to withdraw and hide ourselves from each other.
Sin is rooted in Scarcity, and scarcity leads to Shame, and shame – when it is full blown – leads to Seclusion.
There was a piece in the New York Times this past week by, Mandy Len Cantron who explored the work of Dr. Arthur Aron. This is a guy who created an experiment that successfully caused two strangers to fall in love and eventually get married. How you ask? Each participant sat across a table asking each other a series of 36 questions over a 90 minute period, and the end they had sit staring silently into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes!
Cantron ends up sharing Dr. Aron’s work with a male colleague who is intrigued and eventually suggests the two of them give his experiment a try.
Over the course of 4 hours (not the prescribed 90 minutes), the two of them ask each other the increasingly intimate questions, often laughing nervously as they answer, and at the end of it all they decide to try staring into each other’s eyes. Silently. For 4 minutes. Here is what Cantron remembers about this experience,
“I know the eyes are the windows to the soul or whatever, but the real crux of the moment was not just that I was really seeing someone, but that I was seeing someone really seeing me. Once I embraced the terror of this realization and gave it time to subside, I arrived somewhere unexpected.”
Scarcity and shame wreak havoc on our relationships because we eventually come to believe that we are no longer worthy of relationships, or of being loved and accepted. Like Eve and Adam we cover up our insecurities and withdraw into dark and hidden places finding it increasingly difficult to be really seen by others, and eventually finding it even hard to see others for who they are as well.
This is the great shame of Genesis 3, that because we fail to believe God has given us access to all we need, we lose sight of the fact that we, and everyone else in the world, are created in the very image and likeness of none other than God!
So, here’s my hope for you and me this week: That you and I would travel back to the place where see more clearly, to the place where we had not yet bought the lie of not enough, and to the place where we believe that, in Christ, God has given us everything – that in Christ we are in fact enough.
Cantron and her male colleague would eventually get married! As for me and my wife – I wimped out on our first date and made it a double date. She didn’t send me home, and we would later have our first official one on one date. The rest, as they say, is history.
It’s not that I’m perfect – goodness (and my wife) knows that’s not the case, but for the past 18 years, I’ve had to accept, and so has she, that I was, in fact, enough.