I am enough. So are others.
Our first line of defense: shame and blame
The choice that Adam and Eve made to trust the serpent and distrust God had two immediate consequences: they saw the difference between good and evil, and realized they had chosen evil rather than good. They were ashamed, and so Adam and Eve tried to cover up. They covered up their nakedness with leaves. They covered up their decision with lies.
Adam and Eve were ashamed and hid themselves behind bushes and accusations. When God confronted them, who did they blame for their wrong doing? First Adam blamed God for Eve’s existence (“the woman you gave me”), then blamed Eve (“she gave me some fruit”). Eve blamed the serpent (“the snake tricked me”). Rather than simply admit they had defied and distrusted God, they denied culpability. Ashamed of their own behavior, they deflected God’s spotlight of truth onto the apparent weaknesses and failings of others.
When human beings are ashamed of ourselves, our tendency is to find fault in others. A child who has spilled a cup of paint will blame the cat. A teenager who has crashed a car will blame the other driver. A man who loses his job will despise those who are employed.. A woman who deplores her own looks will criticize the appearance of strangers. Shame can lead us to scoop up our own guilt and pride and dump the muck onto others.
Flawed, fragile…and treasured
It is true that we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). It is also true that we are not nearly as worthless as we can feel on our worst days. We are not God. We are also not Satan. We are flawed and fragile and finite human beings, every single one of us, and we can never approach the sheer abundant goodness of God nor the utter depravity of Evil. But when we carry within us self-loathing and shame, we tend to point fingers of comparison to others.
God, of your goodness give me yourself, for you are enough for me. And only in you do I have everything. Amen.
– Julian of Norwich
Restoration and reality
It is helpful to remember that our story — our relationship with God and each other — begins in Genesis 1, not in Genesis 3. We are created in the image of God, each and every one of us, for God’s delight and enjoyment. “The Fall” of Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve made poor decisions about the right use of their freedom, dis-integrated creation. Humans separated from God, the rest of the created world, and each other. It is that separation that is fundamental to sin, as well as its tragic result. Jesus, as a fully integrated person, in full relation with humanity, creation, and God, is the emblem of the restoration God wants for all of us.
To live a life of Christian simplicity, you have to know the real God. You also have to know the real you. Here is the unbelievable truth: the real you is enough for the real God. You are enough, because you were made in the image of God and carry God’s spirit within you. Release your shame, guilt, and comparisons, because others are enough too. That is the goodness of God.
This post is part of the God Ideas Series.