08.1 What’s the Bible All About… Alone

garden-of-eden-amazing-fresh-green-lanscape-nature-waterfall-wildOne 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/)

Confessional Living

Taking a good look in the mirror… acknowledging what is actually there… and then living out that vision can require a certain level of honesty that is often times not very easy to do.  Truth is that, what is actually there isn’t always pretty… and most people tend to only want to show what is desirable… not what is worn and tattered.

This way of living can be referred to as: confessional living.

Many of us at one point or another have had the experience of putting a great deal of energy into maintaining an image that life is better than what it actually is.  For many of us, this took the shape of covering up a bad relationship in the home so that friends and family members aren’t able to get a good glimpse into the separation that is being experienced between two people.

Sin is anything that breaks relationships.  We’ve all contributed to the breaking of relationships at some point.  Unfortunately… we’ve become better at covering up the sin than we have at letting a healing light be shed on it that we learn to become masters in masquerading.  ‘Nothing to see here.’ … and if there is nothing to see… well, there is nothing to confess.

With ‘nothing to confess’… the relationship will undoubtedly experience such a separation, that a breaking will take place.  And that is when all hell will break loose.

Forcing an exposure of that which was unconfessed or unseen can bring a level of violence at emotional, mental, sometimes physical, and spiritual levels that can wear down an individual rather quickly… but then again… you probably know that.

You need to be realistic about the nature of the broken relationship.  You’ve experienced them.  You may feel like it’s killing you.  But keep this in mind… the damage done to you is not the last word on your relationship with yourself, or with others.

You can be set free.

Below are five things to keep in mind as you adopt a confessional life, rather than a coercive, manipulative life that you hope will protect your image, or a relationship that is long since broken.

Be honest about the bad in your life.  Nobody is perfect, and every new day is an opportunity to come to terms with this.  It doesn’t matter the lies that may be spread about you… even if that is what is forming ‘popular’ or facebook opinion about you.  If you spend more time defending yourself against the voices of others… you will not take the time to be honest to yourself… about yourself.

Invite someone you trust to come in and look at the bad in your life.  We can get by with a little help from our friends.  In our relationship, we have a simple framework that provides the safety needed to come to the table who we are… no more, no less.  Three things: allow for randomness… no retreat… no judgement (see below).

Tell it like it is.  Within the framework mentioned above, you have space to not to have to be serious all the time, or just allow what comes to your heart/mind to come out (randomness)… you have the space to wrestle through running away from letting your voice be heard (no retreat)… you have the space to just be you without getting belittled or looked down on (no judgement).  I will expand this in a later post.

Lay down the power to control how others see you.  Some days may be easier to do this than others.  There is going to be a temptation to project upon others what you want them to see… but this is what tends to get us in trouble in the first place.  When we put a certain image out there, then we will eventually need to spend energy maintaining it… and then we lose sight of the honesty needed to be real with our self.  To remedy this temptation: nurture the close and safe relationships you have versus spreading yourself out there.  As you heal and strengthen in less relationship, you’ll have the ability to expand your boundaries (should you choose to).

Lay down the power to control how others see your abuser.  Chances are good, you’ve got haters on your hand.  Those who are not going to like seeing you find a life without them.  These people ‘know’ you… these people ‘know’ your buttons… these people ‘know’ how to keep you in your place.  You have probably spent a great deal of energy protecting these people over the years, and now that you have made the break from them… hell has been unleashed upon you.  This is the point where the abuser is able to become the ‘victim’ to family and friends… and you are going to want everyone to see these frauds for who they really are.  You are going to be tempted to beat the monster… by becoming the monster… at which point, you’ve played right into their hand.  Fight or flight are not the only two options… there is a third way…

(more to come…)