One of my favorite stories in the Bible is that of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There is more wrapped into these couple of chapters at the beginning of Genesis that lay out the true condition of the human heart in its purest sense than anything that I’ve ever encountered. I don’t know what your experience with this story is… whether you’ve been taught that it is a literal historical even… or a metaphorical image of early humanity. I simply want to unpack some of the lessons that I have gleaned from it over the years, and let the chips fall where they may. This isn’t a careful exegete of the text, simply an unfolding of the events that led us from a place of innocence to the often times messy existence we find ourselves in on a daily basis in our relationship with the world around us.
Somewhere deep within the fabric of who we are as people, is a sense that we were created for intimacy… for unguarded connection. We try connect this desire with the people, places and things that we interact with on a daily basis, often times with mixed results.
Before I go any further into this conversation, it is important that I pause first and define a couple things regarding intimacy since I believe it is one of those words that has been saturated with various meanings in our culture.
When I speak of ‘intimacy’, I am referring to the idea that all of us desire to ‘know’ and ‘be known’ in a pure and unguarded way. In the Hebrew language, the word ‘yada’ means, ‘to know’. It is the root word to over 600 other experiential words in Hebrew that cover the whole landscape of our emotions, thoughts, and activities.
Anything or anyone that we say, ‘we know’ can be described in some form of ‘yada’. I know… football. I know… pizza. I know how to bake bread… or build a work bench. There are some areas of life that we know very well… and others… not so much.
To say that you ‘know’ something or someone is basically saying… ‘I got this.’ Now, that may be true. Some people think they know something, when really they are just into the idea of it. Someone may say that they know you… when in reality… they don’t.
To be truly intimate with someone means that we can say, that we know them… and they know us… unguarded… for who we are. You would think that with over 7 billion people on the planet, our odds would be pretty good that we’d be able to land in a relationship with at least one of them that we can say that intimacy flourishes. For many, if not most of us, however… this is not the case. Truth is… we struggle. Intimacy doesn’t seem to come naturally. We are not able to open ourselves completely to another, and find ourselves frustrated when the person or people we are with seem to be very distant from us.
If we are hardwired for this kind of intimacy, why is it so difficult?
I believe the story of Adam and Eve contains some of the gems we need to uncover to understand the reason intimacy often seems, at best, just beyond our reach.
In the beginning… it was all good.
Except for one thing… Adam was alone.
(photo courtesy of http://storytechsystems.com/)