Naked and Afraid

 

My younger two children are perfecting the art of bickering, expanding the field of play in limitless ways each day.  Whether or not a car is in fact “tiny”, did the other intend to turn the water off before the second could brush teeth, whether a scratch happened knowingly, whether the radio should remain on this song or be changed, who gets to sit in which seat in a choice of the same three in our back seat, did the “hot potato” game end on one or the other, and on and on and on.  The power struggle, the need to be right, the need to win, the need…

For what could be the thousandth time, I spent an hour and a half yesterday on the sidelines of my oldest daughter’s soccer game at a tournament in Florida.  The stands were filled with frustrated voices, disappointed in the defense, mad at the ref’s call, mad that a child was taken out of the game, then I looked down the sidelines and an actual fight had broken out between parents over the ref’s work.  Was the fight sparked because of inherent racism, as the initial visual appeared, or sparked by grown-ups who have lost all perspective on what is worth losing their dignity (and cool) over in life?

It can feel like disdain, disgruntlement, discontent, disconnect and displeasure are the ruling forces of relationships.   Division and distrust are more guaranteed experiences of each day than unity and affection, pleasure and delight.  Why is this humanity’s default mode?  How do we engage differently without being trampled in its stampede?

This bickering started in the beginning of humanity’s story:

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. Gen. 3:4-7

Distrust of God’s goodness, God’s ability, God’s plan, God’s wisdom convinces us that we know better than God, can choose better than God, don’t need God.  Almost immediately, like the promise of the Emperor’s New Clothes, our eyes being opened doesn’t make us as smart as God but rather exposes the reality that we never will be, that we are naked and left vulnerable in all senses.  Our fig leaves don’t cover well, but God made a covering to restore our dignity and remove our shame.

Even so, the pull is there.  Now I’m covered and free of shame, so I can move on without God.  I no longer need Him since he has met my need.  Maybe if we ban together, we can do it well without Him!

So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth. Gen. 11:8-9

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. Mark 3:24-25

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.  For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.  They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. Luke 12:51-53

Eyes opened to realize what we do not know, our vulnerability, our weakness.  Division not as a wizard’s dark magic or a White Witch’s always winter and never Christmas, but as a tangible reminder that, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” Zech. 4:6  The hunger in the desert was to remind His people that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God.  Deut. 8

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.   And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. Acts 2:2-6

We inject ourselves with small doses of influenza to protect ourselves from the flu.  God shows us our proclivity toward division, suicidal independence and the impossibility of making it right or good on our own to show us His good, His power, His guaranteed plan and His wisdom that we were tempted to distrust from the beginning.

My own heart is so set to find fault with others, to back away from others, to separate myself from others and to be dismayed by my inability to live otherwise and at peace with all.  My Gospel amnesia persuades me to believe I either can do nothing to change “the way it is” or need to buckle down and lecture/bribe/threaten my children into loving well.  O ye of little faith.  “If my people who are called by name would humble themselves”, this is me, not a rally or an event or a public spectacle, but one heart acknowledging that I can’t but He can.  I need to pray, not just ponder.  I need to seek and trust in His power, not my perpetual pushing.

But what is my hope for change?  “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”  I suppose seeing the bickering, the division, the distance and the “trouble” as evidence of His word and my need for it.