The book of Genesis captures it clearly–how you and I came to so deeply fixate on ourselves. It started with a man and a woman just like us. Eve saw a forbidden fruit that looked good. She wanted what she wanted, no matter the consequence. So, she savored the fruit–knowledge of good and evil she was not created to savor. Then, Eve gave some of the fruit to her husband.
I can picture it now: Adam and Eve relish the taste as the flavor crests their throats. They enjoy the fruit and swallow it, and suddenly it’s plummeting like iron into their beings. Suddenly, panic settles as they realize what they have done.
- Did their knees buckle?
- Did their hands begin to shake?
- Did they try to spit the poisonous delicacy from their mouths?
I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that Adam and Eve urgently rushed to cover their naked bodies (bodies they’d never felt shame toward in the past). Like toddlers hiding a mess, the couple pieced fig leaves together and draped them over their bodies. Then, they hid.
Just like our own futile attempts, the trick didn’t work, though. Adam and Eve were exposed.
I’ve felt that way before. Haven’t you? Whether it’s a result of my sin or pain resulting from a sin-cursed world, I’ve sat in the squalor of brokenness and wept. We all have.
Someone you love is gone; you’ve ruined your life with a choice you never thought you’d make; you’ve survived a tragedy only to wish you had not.
Those moments of naked humanity last long after my shivering terror subsides. They are moments I’d rather forget. And yet, it’s important not to.
Back to Adam and Eve for a second though, because what follows their hide-and-seek act is quite shocking. In Genesis 3:21, we read that “the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”
Wait… what?! The first people on earth went and screwed everything up and now–even as He explains the repercussions of their choices–God is upgrading their wardrobe? Why?!
There’s so much theology I could dig into here, but the most fundamental explanation as to why God covered Adam and Eve is that’s what dads do. No matter what mess His children get themselves into, He’s Dad. So, when His children were modeling ridiculous fig leaves, God covered them with animal skins instead–a foreshadowing of the sacrificial life, death, and resurrection of Christ that we rejoice in today.
Why Is Dependence So Hard, Then?
Here’s the thing though. I don’t like dependence; It has scared me for years, no matter what I cognitively know about God and His love.
As a child, I existed in a lot of chaotic instability. Save for one person, I didn’t trust anyone. Before I knew it, though, I was an adult and every fiber of my fig-leaf-wearing self was determined to make it on my own. I didn’t want to need anyone, not truly. My plan was to rely on God for the “normal” stuff (i.e. “God please heal my cold”) and handle the serious stuff on my own. For what it’s worth, I certainly tried. Years passed by as I cloistered my heart off. I aimed to be the one people depend on, but never the one who needed to depend on others–I was racking up IOUs from others, knowing that if an emergency came, I’d have people to help because they owed me. But emergencies never seemed big enough, and I sat on those IOUs like a throne of security. When in doubt, I would assure myself: “I’m the good friend. The perfect student. The star athlete. The ideal employee, the model Christian, the beloved daughter, and a dream wife.”
They were all fig leaves. Nasty, rotting fig leaves.
Agony & Awe
As much as Adam and Eve relied upon God for everything, I doubt they felt it as much as when sin slithered into their world. They were not dependable; He was dependable–faithful to the cross and beyond it (John 13:1). That truth rocks me with a blend of agony and awe.
Agony, because I have no superior willpower with which to avoid the forbidden fruit either. I’m no better than Eve.
Awe, because I don’t have to be.
Just like God showed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, so He demonstrates to His children today: no sin or suffering is beyond His capacity for grace. And no magnitude of grace will render us independent from Him.
“No sin or suffering is beyond His capacity for grace.”Tweet
That used to drive me crazy. I longed for a day when I could perfect my world, and I set about making it happen. When I eventually realized how delusional I had been, I was lying in my bed trying to sleep. I attempted to shut off my brain by listening to the soft rise and fall of my chest, dreaming I wouldn’t wake up.
That, my friends, is a life that depends on the self. It is corrupt and cruel and hopeless, and it was hardly a life for me.
About That Whole Self-Reliance Thing…
One of the biggest lessons I learned in 2022 is that I cannot place hope in myself; my “good” actions, strength, and willpower are basically duds. Yet I depended on iterations of these qualities since childhood.
In fact, my longing for perfection and fear of abandonment have been the annihilation of thousands of tissues (not to mention thousands of hours of therapy) over the years. Why? Because, as a child, I learned to shut down and rely on myself when hurting. And though it took me years to realize it, that method doesn’t work. Like Adam and Eve, I scrambled to find my solution without looking to God. Definitely don’t recommend it…
Truthfully, though, the alternative has terrified me. I don’t like to depend on anyone outside of me. “Sure,” I reason. “My powers of self-preservation are limited, but they’re more reliable. I can’t very well abandon myself.”
“Funny, because I absolutely have. I’ve left myself quite literally to die—all under that guise of self-preservation. I’ve became so destructive that I didn’t know hardly anything about my authentic self. So, on second thought, maybe I’m not so reliable…”
These are the conversations I’ve had with myself and God in the last eighteen months. So it didn’t surprise me that, when I prayed about a word to set as a spiritual focal point in 2023, God said: Dependence.
We weren’t created to be independent of all that balances us in this life. Neither were we created to wholly rely upon our reputation, money, status, willpower, or (yes, I’m saying it) our loved ones. Those idols are rotting fig leaves and they don’t last. I know that, but I haven’t done a great job exemplifying a life that wholly leans on my Savior. I mean, “dependence” isn’t the most glamorous word, either. It seems weak and shameful at first glance. And that…..is exactly why I want to grow in holy dependence this year.
Friend, if you’re cringed at the word “dependence” like I did, may I suggest you join the Holy Dependence Party? 🙂
I’m turning my eyes upward this year. My hope and prayer is that God will grow an understanding of holy dependence in my heart, that I may rejoice in my dependence on Him and live more fully in the peace of my Protector.
I’ll never find freedom by continuing to seek it in myself. Neither will you. Freedom, hope, and joy are only found in Christ. So, that’s where you’ll find me.
I am grateful for this life, and grateful for the chance to share these experiences on my blog. Stay tuned as I write about how I’m growing in holy dependence during 2023.
Happy new year.
2 thoughts on “A Dependent 2023”
Good word, Hannah!♡
Than you Hannah, I needed to hear this today! I’m doing the 21 day fast with my church and prepping for a mission trip in February and it’s been difficult to cut things out of my days. Father is comforting me, assuring that it’s enough for where I’m at right now, whatever I can give up for Him.