Have you ever sought a new job only to know immediately after the interview it wasn’t a good fit? Maybe you found a job tailor-made for you, but you were turned down as they moved forward with “more qualified candidates”? Have you ever told someone a secret and immediately regretted confiding? Have you ever been unable to make friends or even hold a simple conversation? Have you ever been so depressed and ashamed and assumed everyone else was bathing in the sun while you wallowed in the pit?
Have you ever been stuck in a cycle of harsh judgements and cynical projections? Have you ever sabotaged the goodness of God in your life with a porn binge and then walled off His presence with a cold wet blanket of fig leaves, crawled back in bed hoping a little more sleep would make the shame go away? Have you ever thought so highly of yourself that you forgot how to be a friend, or thought so little of yourself that you could not possibly see your worth? Have you ever sought to meet the needs and expectations of others only to find there was no room left for your own?
Ironically, we are unified in two ways – both in our familiarity with these experiences and our belief that we are the only ones.
Humans are the only portion of creation to know isolation. From the beginning of time the heavens had the earth, the day had the night and the waters above had the waters below and they reflected back to one each other their true nature, their Imago of the triune Dei. All of creation was created as essentially communal and God called this creation “very good.” The Hebrew word for very good is tov me’od and its’ implications are not that the parts of creation are good in and of themselves but they are good in relationship to one another. In other words, the Good God is calling his creation good because of its’ connectedness and interdependence.
“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the human to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.’” – Gen. 2:18
Let’s set the record straight, the word here is ha’adam (human), not man. It is gender neutral. Also, helper does not mean woman. It is the word ezer and it would be best translated as aid, shield, protector, and most of the twenty-one times it’s used in the Old Testament it does so in reference to God, our ezer – “I lift my eyes up to the hills. Where does my ezer come from? My ezer comes from the LORD.” Sound familiar?
In Lent we have an opportunity to recover our help, our protection, our aid, our shield, our presence; the deeply internal presence of God and the uniquely physical connection of friends. And maybe the way we recover this “ever present help” is to ask our inner ha’adam where she feels alone, where she’s isolated or where he’s been hiding. You see, we have sewed fig leaves together for generations, separating ourselves from our ezer, thinking that the way to our humanity is paved by a goodness which looks more like protection and perfection than friendship and connection.
This Lent, what would it cost you to confess, I am alone? Could you risk inviting someone in, and strip off your perfectly placed fig leaves that hide all your embarrassing problem areas? To recover our help we must first be seen as we are, in all the ways we aren’t “good.”
This may feel like death, but that is Lent and that is the “good” news of Jesus – from dust we were born, to dust we must return if we want to be human again. So stop hiding, and hear God’s words again, It is not good that you should be alone.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,