Who told you that you were naked?
You probably know the story from early on in the book of Genesis — Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit, and because of this, they hide from God in the garden. Try to really picture it. They’re hiding “among the trees in the garden.” God calls out for them, wondering where they are. He doesn’t seem to know about their first act of disobedience. Adam answered God, “I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” I do this all the time. I make some serious assumptions about my worthiness, my abilities, my identity — and then I often go hide. A few months ago I heard a Catholic priest say, “The way in which you hear the very next line of the Genesis story tells you everything that you need to know about your vision of God.” The next line is God’s response to Adam: “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” “Who told you that you were naked?” Do you hear heartbreak in God’s voice when he realizes Adam feels shame? Do you perceive concern and care? Do you envision a Father surprised that his beloved feels such shame? Or do you hear anger and frustration… someone about to drop the hammer… words of condemnation and shame? Like many others, for years my default belief was the latter — When we aren’t perfect, God is mad, disappointed, blaming. I still live in this mode sometimes. But I’ve slowly met and decided to trust the God who isn’t wrapped up in my worthiness. The God who isn’t very interested in policing my sin but actually yearns first and foremost for my wholeness and connectedness to Him. The God who can handle my imperfections because He knows that when I feel seen and loved — no matter what part of me is shining through — His acceptance creates true bond, true gratitude and deep relationship. I think of my 9 month old son, Jude. I’d be heartbroken if he felt any shame for being naked and exposed, for waking up too many times last night, for dropping food on the floor for the thousandth time, or for having a blow out diaper. A few weeks after hearing the Catholic priest talk about God in the garden, I was praying with Melanie, Sam and Annika on a chilly, sunny Sunday morning. We asked God to speak to us while we listened, and then we shared what we “heard.” At one point in my wordy preamble, I told them that I thought I wasn’t a resilient person. I made this claim about who I felt like I was, and what I thought I was or wasn’t capable of. We prayed, and when it was Sam’s turn to share, he put his hands on his head, leaned back, and stared out the window for a few moments. “I felt like God wanted me to ask you, ‘Who told you that you weren’t resilient?’” He said it with such gentleness and love. I had never mentioned the Genesis story or the Catholic priest’s teaching bouncing around in my heart. “Who told you that you weren’t resilient?” I find myself whispering it to myself often. It was the shift I needed to begin trusting that God made me to be resilient. I needed to hear God enter into that with me in a non-blaming way. God’s words through Sam have been an almost-constant source of strength and gratitude for me in the last few weeks. I wonder what other assumptions I’ve made about myself, about my abilities and my identity. I catch myself thinking, “Who told you that you need to be a better friend? Who told you that you needed to be more successful? Who told you that you weren’t intelligent? Who told you that you’re just faking it?” When we question our worthiness, our belovedness, our goodness, our gifts, I think God has a question for us: “Who told you that you were…?” And how we hear His voice in that moment makes all the difference.