We’ve all been created to connect. There’s something innate that cries out for someone or something to notice the “me” that is inside. There is this small yet monumental event that happened somewhere around the beginning of time that we’ve now since deemed, “The Fall.” So much was lost in that one moment, more than I think we’ll realize but subconsciously we long for full restoration all our days on this side of heaven. Some have widdled this loss down to just our human connection to God (“Then they heard the sound of the LORD God and hid…” Genesis 3:8) but several relationships were broken.
Do you ever wonder why we can’t all just get along? The blame game started that day between humans (“The woman you put here with me…” Genesis 3:12). Why is there disease and defect, why do we labor tirelessly in our work only to be frustrated with the meager results? Our relationship with creation broke down too (“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil, you will eat of it…It will produce thorns and thistles for you…” Genesis 3:17-18). And then the relationship that gets forgotten most of all I’ve found. Do you ever wonder why you just don’t feel like yourself so many days, why you’re constantly looking around for what can define you and why you strive for authenticity and vulnerability but it just feels too painful to be so real, even with yourself? Our relationship with our own self was broken that day (“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Genesis 3:7).
Oh, so sad friends. What we lost that day in the Garden was our very self. The harmony, the peace, the shalom that we were created for, now fragmented and we now set about the task of putting the pieces back together again. But how do we put something back together if we aren’t even aware of it in the first place? I think the numbness and the ignorance of it all is satan’s way of trapping us in our fig leaves, hidden behind the bushes, blaming each other as we toil on day after day.
But then one day, unexpectedly a connection is made, one of these relationships gets a foretaste of restoration and we suddenly realize, maybe that’s what I was made for? What does that foretaste drive us towards? Do we tentatively decide to step out from behind the bush again and let down the lies that have been trapping us and telling us that’s who you are when really it was just a mask, a false self parading around for us?
I’ve been living in the tension lately of wanting to step out more. Last fall I got so tired of my parade and my mask that one day in the garden with God I declared that I wanted to know the real me, the true me. In that moment I felt a release of weight like a burden I had been carrying around was lifted, but I felt fear in the next breath. What if the real me is someone I don’t recognize, nor any of the other people around me? What if I’m left starting all over again in life? What if I did get to start all over again?
Just changing the words slightly there made the desire to change stronger than fear that was trying to hold me back. And so the quest begins, but as I’ve been learning it’s not an easy one. Years of believing that life will only turn out one-way need to be reconditioned and reformed. You can’t believe lies for so long without some pain and bitterness thrown in there as well to work through. I realized that in my 20’s I knew that pain was there but it was easier to ignore and just keep trying but now in my 30’s I realize the pain isn’t going anywhere and the desire for a new life is stronger than the fear of going through the hurt again. You see I’m accepting that after the Fall, suffering is inevitable, but only by walking through the pain, letting our old self die on that cross, can the stone be rolled away and a new self, a new life becomes our reality. It is the path that Jesus modeled for us and told us would be necessary if we wanted to come after him. It’s that promise and hope that makes me summon the courage to step into the fear instead of running from it.
On this journey, all relationships will be restored and will be necessary for true connection to be made. Every time I want to give up and retreat back into my hiddeness I summon up that courage to reach out and say will you join me? Will you accept the broken me and journey with me because I can’t do this alone, I wasn’t made to do this alone.
I just reconnected with a dear sweet friend that moved away almost two years ago now. This was the kind of friend that saw my false self, my junk and loved me in spite of it because she also saw my true self and loved me. Friends like that are important. They reassure us that we can do this, they provide the safe space to pull of our “fig leaves” if you will and let ourselves see our own true selves, sometimes for the first time. Friendships that put aside and forgive through the blame so that vulnerability can be the focus are essential if we want to restore this earth as it is in heaven. It will take awareness, it will take courage, it will take love to find the connection we were all made for.
(For further reading on this false self/true self concept I discussed, I would recommend Richard Rohr’s, “Immortal Diamond”)