“And the LORD God commanded the man, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die."” (Genesis 2:16-17)
Well, we know that the temptation to be like God was (and is) too much for humankind; and we all know how this story goes. They eat the fruit and, “then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” The man said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”” (Genesis 3:7-11)
When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, their eyes were opened, and they realized that which they had done was wrong. We’ve all seen it in a toddler discovered making a mess: coloring on the fridge with crayons or pulling all the toilet paper off the roll – that immediate look and reaction of “busted.”
When we realize we are in the wrong, no matter how much fun it may have been, or how caught up in the moment we got, the result is the same – busted. The stomach drops and you’d do anything to crawl under a rock and hide from the truth revealed in that moment.
Adam and Eve hid themselves in that moment. They knew what they had done was wrong and they did not want to face God. This is shame – that feeling we all get when we receive the message that we have done something wrong. But while there are legitimate times in our earthly relationships when we must face the wrongs we have done, there are also many messages out there telling us we do not belong. These are messages of shame and unworthiness. We are constantly reminded that we are not tall enough, we are not smart enough, we are too fat, we don’t have nice enough clothes, we don’t make enough to keep up with the Joneses.
When society tells us we don’t belong, “We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted, and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history” (Brené Brown), our defense is to numb our feelings of misplaced shame. But the problem here is that it’s not possible to selectively numb the bad feelings of shame and un-belonging. Right along with that, we also numb joy, happiness, and gratitude.
In a world that is always telling us we are not good enough, this Easter be reminded of a God who went to the cross to die for us – a God who tells us we belong, we are deserving of love, we are beautiful. In Christ, we find our home, we find our comfort, we find the healing of our afflictions, and we find forgiveness.
May the peace and love of the Lord be with you all!