Saturday, October 6, 2012

A thought about Adam and Eve

I'm not a Biblical scholar, and thus I have no idea if my thoughts on this topic have any merit. I'm just going to share the thoughts that popped into my head this morning, as I lay in bed, hoping that James would go back to sleep... :-)
Note: It may be difficult to tell from the post, but I do not take the story of Adam and Eve as a literal story, nor endorse young-Earth creationism... The story of Adam and Eve is a teaching story, with many meanings, but it is not literal.
Traditional Christianity (or at least the Christianity that I am familiar with) usually teaches the story of Adam and Eve as the story of the Fall, the Original Sin. It is the story of Adam and Eve's deliberate betrayal of God's command and the punishment for that disobedience. But, with my recent pondering of my own insecurities, I suddenly thought, what if that isn't the point of Adam and Eve? Perhaps the story is about insecurity. After all, God would have created Adam and Eve to be perfect, right? Why would he have created them with flaws? And why would God command them not to eat from the tree of knowledge? What was really so bad about this tree? What does it represent? 
So, these are just my thoughts on what possibly happened in the garden. Of course, everything starts out just great. Adam and Eve are enjoying the garden and being in communion with God. But somehow, an idea creeps in and takes hold. Perhaps, one of them began to think "I'm not good enough. I'm not good enough to be in God's presence. I don't deserve to be living in this beautiful garden."
So, they begin to think about how they might bolster themselves up. They figure that if they just have more knowledge, they will be good enough. They will be like God, and thus deserve to be in his presence. And so, they seek out the tree of knowledge.

This insecurity is bad for 2 reasons. First, it rejects that God made us perfect in the first place, and we feel we have to fix God's work. We no longer trust God. This does not bode well for the relationship.

Secondly, as I mentioned in my last post, insecurity makes us self centered. It gets us thinking about ourselves, and how we can bolster our own self, rather than caring for and helping other people.

When God discovers what Adam and Eve have done, he banishes them from the garden. But does God really do the banishing, or is it a direct result of insecurity? God tells the man and woman how they will now suffer. Traditional Christianity usually says that this is a punishment from God. But, perhaps God is telling Adam and Eve what the natural consequences of insecurity are?
So, what are the consequences?
Well, I suppose the obvious one is feeling separated from God, but we also feel separate from each other. Why else do people lie, gossip, and judge others? Because we are insecure, we feel we must prove we are better than others. Or maybe we shrink away from relationships that might benefit us. Or seek out relationships that actually are very bad for us, because we feel that is what we deserve... Also, the desire to accumulate money and other material goods, perhaps even the obtaining of higher education, in order to prove your worth, and then using those things against other people, instead of to help. Think about wars. Don't most of them result from wanting to expand territory or show how much power we have, thus proving that we are better than our opponents? What if all evil acts are a result (directly or indirectly) of insecurity?
We don't need to be like God or like anyone else. If someone doesn't like us for who we are, that is their issue. We don't need to be smarter, more successful, or have more money. This, of course, doesn't mean we shouldn't try to improve upon ourselves, but it should come from a desire within ourselves (and perhaps in conjunction with prayer) that is not dependent upon how we look to the world.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Are you confident?

Lately, I've felt rather disgusted with myself. See, I've always had problems with low self-esteem. And right now, there is this really awesome person that seems to think more highly of me than I do myself and wants to be my friend. It's kind of intimidating. So much so that I fear I may be sabotaging this potential friendship by constantly lamenting about what a horrible person I am.   It's probably getting old very quickly.
So, I'm writing today about low self-esteem. I've got boatloads of it. But recently I've realized it's not just bad for me. It's bad for everyone around me. I've come to this conclusion; people with low self-esteem are actually quite self-centered people. Now, I say this with love and not condemnation, because I AM one of these people. Let me explain what I mean by this.
One who has low self-esteem may spend a lot of time and energy thinking about his worthiness...his unworthiness to go after his dreams, to be friends with someone who he feels is above him, or whatever.  All these things use up energy, and it is energy he could be using to do good in the world, but isn't. Sounds kind of self centered, doesn't it?
Now, it may not be our fault that we developed this low self-esteem, but the fact is that it's ours now, to do with what we will.
So, what is the answer?
I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of the book Conversations with God, but Neale Donald Walsh does expound on an interesting idea, that love of your self is the most important thing. Love yourself first, then other people. When we love ourself, we are then free to love others more genuinely, more completely. By loving ourselves for all that we are, we can then love others for all that they are, faults and all. I think there may be some truth to this idea.
We need not to be caught in the shackles of low-esteem, but to love ourselves and to live in true confidence. True confidence is not to be confused with over-confidence, which in fact is not confidence at all, but rather another form of low self-esteem. See, when you have true confidence, you don't need to lament your failures 24/7, and you also don't need to boast. Boasting is a way to get other people to think highly of you, because you don't think highly of yourself. So, with true confidence, we might see a humble individual who is interested in lifting other people up, not in nursing their low opinion of themselves, or in being boastful. This is the type of person who can then change the world for the better.
Where is God in all of this, some of you may be asking. Being truly confident isn't about saying that you don't need God, or that you are perfect as you are. It's about being able to acknowledge your shortcomings, but at the same time not letting your shortcomings make you a lesser person. Realize we all have shortcomings; we all have areas we need to work on. We are all in the same boat. Together. But God didn't create us to wallow in despair at our unworthiness. If we do so, we are not seeking to improve ourselves or make the world a better place, but in nursing our own wounds.
The Book of Acts in the New Testament shows us that God wants us to be confident. Acts tells the story of the beginnings of the Christian church. The leaders of the new church had to have confidence in order to travel to far off places, often in hostile territory, and to promote what they believed with enough confidence so that others would embrace the Message as well. If they had been boastful, they would not have been promoting God's message. If they had figured that they were unworthy (although they do think this from time to time, they are then corrected), then even if they did tell other people about God, they would not have been very convincing. Instead of focusing on the Message they were promoting, they would be focusing on themselves. I have found this to be true in my own life. There are messages that I would like to promote, but I feel so damn self conscious every time I open my mouth, that certainly I don't do a very good job at promoting what I am trying to promote. I need to realize that I am intelligent and quite capable of being who I want to be. After all, why would God create us to sit around lamenting about how crappy we are?
Don't fret if you've been living in one of the two conditions I've criticized, unworthiness or boastfulness. Just realize your awesomeness, now, in this moment. You don't need any of that negative crap. You ARE awesome. Say it out loud, in the mirror if you must, until you believe it. Then, use all that POSITIVE energy to make the world a better place... And most of all, have compassion for those who may still be mired in the ugliness of their low self-esteem. Perhaps lend them a helping hand out of it.
I'm ready for a change. Are you?
I welcome any comments or questions you may have. Thank you, and have a fabulous day!!! :-)