Tuesday, July 12, 2016

On Vulnerability, And the Shame of It All

Sometimes it all gets so muddied and so, we have to go back to the beginning.

(based on Genesis 1:26-31; Genesis 2:4-25 and Genesis 3

Picture a perfect world full of promise. The lions and the bears draw close as velvet paws touch the tender skin of human hands. Man and Woman, named Adam and Eve, hand-in-hand dive into the deep. They are fascinated by the speech of the dolphin and the magnificence of the whale. Upon the land again, feet trod over ever dew-like moist of grass. Eagle eyes (and perhaps flight) hone in on the open skies as sweet and clear songs of wonder see-saw back and forth with the winged creatures of the air, great and small alike. They cultivate and enjoy Life wherever they go.

God walks in the cool of day upon the same ground. It's holy gracing humanity and through this the whole universe. And Adam and Eve know nothing but the deep breath of a world in order, right, true and glory-filled.

And they are naked and unashamed. 

Their dance of oneness is a celebration of all that is. No couple has ever 'had it all' like they do. Vulnerability in its depth of innocence, bold declaration and wild freedom is their prized possession.

But too, tragedy and its insidious fallout is a tinge of impure air, a smidge of shadow, a blade of too cool grass away.

The pain that comes into humanity's story is what darkens beauty for all time, tainting our purest imagination and truest innocence. It steeps our shame over all the generations and crushes our vulnerability. It begs us to ask if there were no shame, would we ever fear vulnerability? And can we ever get it all back?

This is why we must go to the beginning; to the dawn of time and the first human relationship

What went wrong?

'Nature soaks every evil with either fear or shame.'                                                                                   Tertullian

 It could be said that Adam fails to love, care for and teach Eve as he is made to do, even before he lets her eat the fruit.

In Genesis 2, the command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is given to Adam. It comes before Eve is formed. What she says to the serpent is that they must not eat it or they will surely die. She does not say the name of it. Does she know? Would that make a difference? since they are innocent and free from evil.

Yet, I think Adam is to be her teacher as he shows her the beauty of the garden. He has been with God and named all of the living creatures. She is to learn of the wonder and knowledge of God in great part through him. In her joy of exploration the whole creation will come to life. Above all others he is to bring her to life. She is the crown of creation; the fulfillment of the image of God spoken into all the world. 

And in her naivety, for she is newest to the world, she is the most vulnerable.

And he knows it. That serpent, the Great Liar, is waiting for the perfect moment. It is only after the Fall that he slithers like a snake of today. I wonder if he wasn't beautiful of appearance in those fateful moments. Whatever Eve might know or not know of the tree, he distorts its meaning irreparably.

Adam is there but he doesn't speak. She eats. He eats. They fall. In an achingly slow heave the whole of the earth knows it is broken with no knowledge of when it will be whole again.

All that is good is marred. Adam and Eve have fallen the farthest. They cover themselves for they know the are broken; wrecks that have wrecked it all. They have failed each other, their accord shattered. So great disorder has come upon the earth.

Shame: a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.

And they are naked and ashamed.

Perhaps before their minds can contemplate fear stemming from separation from a holy and good God, or a discordance with all of creation, they know shame. They have the knowledge of good and evil and they know they have done evil. It cloaks their souls and hearts and reaches to their bodies. 

Just as shame is a first emotion or sensation after the fall of man, so it is where the deepest healing and wholeness comes through the work of Jesus Christ.

And the only way to see that wholeness in our lives is to experience the height of vulnerability without shame, fully independent of others' responses. And the only way to do that is to become so fully identified with Christ that the healing of our brokenness, pain and sin unites us with his righteousness.

This is the power of the Cross, for there Christ knew shame yet Hebrews 12 says he scorned, or despised it. I picture his redemption that spans eternity entering every shattered moment, especially the first. He stands in between the lies of Satan, and Adam and Eve's root sins of disobedience, unbelief, willfulness and passivity and breaks their power. 

He says 'no more!' to the storm of shame that ensues. His redemption is so complete it heals every naked root of vulnerability, forcibly resisting the shame hovering to clothe instead with His redemption. He promises to so fully restore oneness between God and humanity and between man and woman. He has broken Satan's power and stands at the roots of the Fall with the ferociousness of the Lion of Judah, and the power of the risen and exalted King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And he covers instead with his wholeness, freedom from sin and triumphant love.
Why have I written so many words and gone back to the root of shame?

A couple of months ago God started speaking to my heart saying, 'No more!' 'No more shame. It is done.' A week or two later I went into the hospital a second time in fourteen months for bipolar disorder. And yet, on the other side, those words of 'no more!' stand, because redemption is just that powerful and strong. 

In the coming weeks, I will post more on my journey of vulnerability and freedom from shame.

But first, I think we all need to go back to the beginning.


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