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Still in the World ... Still in the Mood
By John Renfroe, Anita Renfroe
David C. CookCopyright © 2010 John and Anita Renfroe
All rights reserved.
Made for Each Other
Adam and Eve(part one)
God said, "It's not good for the Man to be alone; I'll make him a helper, a companion." So God formed from the dirt of the ground all the animals of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the Man to see what he would name them. Whatever the Man called each living creature, that was its name. The Man named the cattle, named the birds of the air, named the wild animals; but he didn't find a suitable companion.
God put the Man into a deep sleep. As he slept he removed one of his ribs and replaced it with flesh. God then used the rib that he had taken from the Man to make Woman and presented her to the Man. (Gen. 2:18–22)
This is a great moment in marital history. Actually, the first one ever! And it was done with perfection, in perfection, by perfection. Take note. It was beautiful. And as we know, it was oh so fleeting. But for a while it was amazing—a taste of what it was supposed to be.
God gave Adam a job. There were a million species, and they all needed names. He had a lot to do, so things were good on the career front. Apparently busyness was not the same as fulfillment and satisfaction—even in a perfect job situation—because Adam was lonely despite being really busy.
It is interesting to note that God gave partners to all the animals but waited for Adam to acknowledge his desire for a mate before He fashioned one for him. So God not only said that it was not good for man to dwell in isolation (How will he ever find matching socks? Who will let him know when to trim his nose hair?), but He also came up with a beautiful solution. God created Eve for Adam. She was not one of a million, she was couture—handmade, custom designed, and presented to him.
We all need someone to share with—our lives, our work, our thoughts and feelings, our destiny. This was a couple destined to make history. All of it.
high note or low note?
It was a stellar moment in the establishment of marriage. Unfortunately it was literally all downhill from there. Seems that one week in paradise is about all anyone can take. This was the only point in the history of all humanity that we could rate this marriage a perfect 10.
We usually have to feel our loneliness deeply before we come to the conclusion that we are willing to do the work it takes to be in a marriage relationship for life. Explain to your partner the loneliness you experienced before they entered your life. Or perhaps share a moment when you were apart and something happened that you knew would be impossible to describe and your only wish was for them to be standing there witnessing it with you.
Make plans to view the sunset together tomorrow (or maybe tonight). Imagine how difficult it would be to capture the beauty of a sunset if you tried to explain it to each other in words. Some things just have to be shared and experienced.CHAPTER 2
Go Along, Get Along, Get It Wrong
Adam and Eve(part two)
God commanded the Man, "You can eat from any tree in the garden, except from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. Don't eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you're dead."
The serpent was clever, more clever than any wild animal GOD had made. He spoke to the Woman: "Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?"
The Woman said to the serpent, "Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It's only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, 'Don't eat from it; don't even touch it or you'll die.'"
The serpent told the Woman, "You won't die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you'll see what's really going on. You'll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil."
When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she'd know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate. (Gen. 2:16–17, 3:1–6)
There is much debate (by people smarter than we are) over who was with whom, and who knew what when, in the don't-touch-the-fruit story—but, regardless, the outcome is the same. The woman went along with the snake, and the man went along with the woman. Plainly, there was much going along.
You know the phrase "go along to get along," right? It means to make compromises for the sake of ease, to shut your mouth and just do whatever is necessary to avoid an argument. You weigh the amount of time it would take to discuss (heatedly, most likely) the issue at stake. Then you factor in how much time and energy you have on hand to devote to said "conversational-growth opportunity" and the inevitable cooling-off period—not to mention the likelihood of "no sugar tonight in your coffee" (obscure The Guess Who reference). Ultimately you come up with the notion that it just might not be worth arguing.
But there are times when the "go along to get along" approach is just plain wrong. Sometimes we need to strive with each other over matters. We need to create an environment where lively, heated discussion over matters that matter is not only okay, but is also viewed as healthy—necessary, even—to protect each other and our marriage from devastating decisions. This type of environment safeguards our marriage, especially when one of us feels strongly about the morality of an issue.
high note or low note?
Low. Avoiding confrontation is not always the most peaceable option.
Calmly discuss how you each approach the decision about whether to confront the other or to not rock the boat. Why do you feel that certain topics are difficult to discuss with your beloved? Have there been situations where it would have been more loving to confront than to just go along?
Take a piece of paper and write each other a permission slip to "rock the boat" in a situation where your spouse might otherwise be afraid to do so. Tuck the slip away someplace safe (maybe the back of your wallet?) and don't be afraid to use it—for good.CHAPTER 3
Leaving, Cleaving, and Stuck on You
Adam and Eve(part three)
The Man said, "Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman for she was made from Man." Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh. (Gen. 2:23–24)
How great is it that Adam began his declaration with "Finally!"? Isn't that the way it feels when you have spent far too much time looking for someone to spend your life with and then BAM! there they are? You do remember when all you wanted to do was begin your life with this person, wake up next to this person, and share every thought and feeling with this person, right? Can you tap into your memory banks and recall that feeling? That is the ball of emotions behind Adam's declaration of "Finally!" Settled, done, finito, over. This is it. She is it. Game over.
Except for one thing.... Adam also has to come up with a name for her kind of species. The list is pretty short as there is only one name for the species (man). So he just tags on a prefix and she becomes woman. (It doesn't say that Eve discussed it, but we're pretty sure she might have had an opinion if she were not still under the effects of divine anesthesia.)
The verses following that event inform us that Adam and Eve established the important principles of leaving their families (interesting, given that there were no families to leave, as of yet). But if you really look at the root causes of a lot of marital difficulty, it will often come in one of these three areas they identified:
1. Leaving: One of the partners cannot separate fully from their family of origin.
2. Cleaving: Just as "aloha" can mean both hello and good-bye, "cleave" can mean both to separate and to attach (say good-bye to the old, hello to the new). It is somewhat like a trapeze artist who must fully let go of one bar in order to grab and hold the other. If you try to hold on to one bar while trying to grasp the next, you will be torn in two directions and painfully stuck in midair.
3. Becoming one flesh: This means being intimate. Knowing each other in ways that are deeply personal and sexual, as no one else can know you, and determining to be that way always.
high note or low note?
This is taking place before the fall, so all the notes were pretty high. They show us what it's like to be intimate and exclusive. And appreciative.
Okay. Gut-level-honesty time. Give your partner permission to speak freely about how they feel your marriage is measuring up in these three test areas: leaving, cleaving, one flesh-ing. Listen with your heart, and speak the truth in love. Together decide on some new ways to step up your game in any areas that need shoring up.
Pray for your partner and your marriage, that you can see the places where there may be a foundational crack in the leave/cleave/unity trifecta. The ability to see it and work together on it is critical to the health and longevity of your union.CHAPTER 4
Adam and Eve(part four)
When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she'd know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.
Immediately the two of them did "see what's really going on"—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves. (Gen. 3:6–7)
Eve knew a good thing when she saw it. Well, a good-looking thing at least. She also realized the upside to knowledge: She would be more knowledgeable. What possible harm could that do? Isn't knowledge power? And who wouldn't want to be more powerful? Perhaps God may have overstated the consequences. He's loving toward His creation, right? And Adam will want to share this experience, right? But all her reasoning and persuading led them to a place they never desired to be: exposed.
One thing's for sure: Marriage will expose you. Living with someone 24–7 will bring out the good, the bad, and the ugly. We all attempt that "best foot forward" approach when dating, but life together will lay it all bare. The decisions you make as a couple will always lead you either closer to God or farther away. It seems there should be some sort of middle ground where there is "marital stasis," but there isn't. Adam and Eve started out in the garden of Eden naked and unashamed (true intimacy) and ended up naked and aware (knowledgeable and miserable). Some things you would rather not share, and in those moments you feel exposed.
It seems that they were also engaged in something that we will witness in other marriages in the Bible: the attempted cover-up. Nothing expresses our human reaction to exposure like our instinct to hide. We try to hide from God. We try to hide from each other emotionally and keep our failures tightly under wraps, all the while suffocating the life out of our relationship, killing true intimacy. While we are sewing fig leaves of fear, God offers us a true covering of forgiveness (Gen. 3:21). Isn't it time that we come clean with each other ... and with God?
high note or low note?
You can see how this would be a very, very low note. And the beginning of all marital low notes to come. Forever.
Talk about a time in your childhood when you thought you had pulled a fast one on your parents but you got busted. Did you hide from your parents? What were you trying to hide?
It's difficult to come out of our hiding places. We are comfortable there, yet, on many levels, miserable with our pathetic "fig leaves" (busyness, workaholism, perfectionism, deception, addictions, noncommunication). It takes a good bit of coaxing from God to realize what exactly we are hiding and who we think we are hiding it from. God knows who you are and where you are and what you are hiding. Your fig leaves are about as effective as wearing a cotton T- shirt in an X-ray machine. It may make you feel covered up, but it's hiding nothing.
Do you desire to be truly intimate with God and with your spouse? It takes courage and risk. You may not be able to discuss this right away, but make a commitment to consider at least one fig leaf you are ready to exchange for forgiveness in your life.
Ask God to help you, as a couple, to make decisions that lead you in a God-ward direction together, and for the wisdom to see the fig leaves you hide behind regularly.CHAPTER 5
When the Honeymoon Is Definitely Over
Adam and Eve(part five)
Then the man—Adam—named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live. And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.
Then the Lord God said, "Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!" So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (Gen. 3:20–24 NLT)
In the space-travel spoof Galaxy Quest, there is an intergalactic struggle for possession of a device that reorganizes molecules so that you can go back in time thirteen seconds and undo any ill-informed, stupid, or catastrophic thing that had happened. That would come in handy, wouldn't it? If only to change some lame thing you said, or to stop yourself before you ate the whole tray of nachos, or to give yourself another chance to turn a little wider at the bank drive-through to avoid scraping your paint job. Think about it: Thirteen seconds ago you weren't such an idiot. Don't you know Adam and Eve would have loved to have gotten their hands on that device? But perfection doesn't last. Period. No one may have experienced this more graphically than the only (temporarily) perfect couple. After they were sent packing from their perfect paradise, God placed a strong visual reminder that they could never go back and undo their life-altering decision. There was no return to their former perfect life.
Time runs in only one direction and, no matter how much we wish we could return to the point of decision or action, it is as if cherubim are placed at the entry to What Was, leaving only one direction to move: forward, together. Without the unfailing mercies of the Lord in our lives, we are stuck staring at the cherubim and the flaming sword, wondering how we messed up so royally. But because of the unfailing mercies of the Lord, we look out at the land that lies a little outside the bounds of perfection and know that we can make it. Together.
Excerpted from duets by John Renfroe, Anita Renfroe. Copyright © 2010 John and Anita Renfroe. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
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