The following is a link to our reading today from Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
“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.”
The story of Adam and Eve with the serpent in the Garden of Eden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is for me one of the richest and most interesting stories in the whole Bible. Every time I read it, I am struck by some new insight, some new layer of understanding that I hadn’t seen before. This time I was drawn to the line, “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.” Two words immediately came into my head, “Vulnerability” and “Shame.”
The next thought that came into my head was this: Where did the shame come from? Presumably Adam and Eve were naked before they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So, it is not their nakedness per se that is causing them to feel shame. Presumably they have been walking around in a state of vulnerable nakedness since they were created. No, something has happened to bring shame into their lives, to make them aware of and afraid of their vulnerability. I think that what has happened is that because of their actions they are feeling disconnected from God and from each other.
Adam and Eve in the garden that day should have been feeling guilt. They did do something that God had asked them not to do. But guilt is different than shame. Guilt tells us when we have done something to harm a connection we have with one another. True vulnerability allows us to make amends and
Just look at Adam and Eve. In the verses that follow our reading for today, Adam and Eve act completely out of a shame response. First they hide themselves from God. Then Adam blames Eve, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then Eve blames the serpent, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” They are ashamed. They blame, rationalize and lie because they do not see themselves as worthy of a connection with God. Their shame disconnects them from God and from one another.
And how did they get to that place of disconnection in the first place? Well the serpent introduced another shameful concept into their lives. He introduced to them the idea that who they are is not enough. The serpent introduces the idea that to simply be human is not good enough, instead they need to strive to be like God. One of the most important things that Brown discovered in her research on connection and vulnerability was this: to have connection we must be vulnerable, allow ourselves to be seen. To be vulnerable we must believe that who we are is enough. We must believe that who we are with all our gifts and flaws is enough and that we are worthy of connection and love. We must understand that we can be loved for our vulnerabilities not in spite of them.
You are enough. I am enough. God loves you and God loves me as we are. We are not perfect. We make mistakes. We need to make amends from time to time, but at our deepest level we are enough. When we can truly embrace our “enoughness” we will find that we are no longer afraid of our vulnerability and we will find the connections with each other and with God that we so desire.