Monday, January 12, 2009
Jon and I went to one of the most amazing marriage retreats last week. It was sponsored by Porter's Call here in the Nashville area (Franklin to be exact) and they brought in Dan Allender who brought a staggering perspective on gender, marriage, family and humanity in general. If you ever have a chance to go to his Intimate Marriage conference (I think it's coming to Birmingham in early February) or read his book by the same name, definitely do it. (I think he also has a curriculum for small group study which would be really interesting to do as well.)
There were many life changing things that I took from Dan's conference, but there is one thing he said that really struck me. He was talking about the original fall in Genesis and how God's punishment for women was/is pain in childbirth and our husbands' rule over us. He went past the surface explanation for these things and dug to a deeper meaning based on literal translation. I can't remember the exact points he gave due to my poor note taking skills, but essentially these two curses have to do with relationship. Women at their core have been plagued with loneliness. We will be plagued by the nurturing and maintenance of relationship and will be deeply pained by the sin that will eventually corrupt every relationship we have, to some degree. One of the problems we have, especially in relation to our husbands, is the insecurity of being too much. We are too emotional, too insecure, too passionate, too talkative, too analytical, too worrisome, too fat, too skinny, too needy, too lonely... I can totally relate to this - not just in relationship to Jon, but to everyone. Sure, not everyone is going to like me, but the idea that I - one whom God knit together beautifully and wonderfully - am too much for the world to handle is a lie from satan that is designed to keep me from being all that I was intended to be, limiting the impact that I can have for the Kingdom of Heaven. I am bothered by this very thing as I am typing. Is this post too much? Are people going to be put off by me because I am too insecure or too open or too...fill in the blank...
I know that this is something that will never go away because I am not perfect and neither are you and we are living day in and day out in this world together, in relationship with one another. Even in the inevitability of that last sentence, I can't tell you the freedom that Dan's insight has given me. I have shared what I've learned with just a couple of friends and the response has been astounding. These women REALLY do struggle with this. It isn't just me. It isn't just the women Dan Allender has counseled. We are all worried that we are not fit for true, unbridled, vulnerable, rich and meaningful relationships with people on this Earth. This oftentimes translates to our relationship with God. We hold back. We don't ask people over or to lunch or coffee because we're scared of what they think or how they would respond or whether or not they would come. We worry about whether or not someone likes us or why they didn't invite us to their party. If they do invite us or come over, we wonder if they really did it because they wanted to spend time with us or if they just did it because they felt obligated or had an ulterior motive. When don't fully confess our sins to the Father and we do not dare to reveal to Him the desires of our heart. We think we are too much.
Part of my goals for 2009 include allowing God to free me of this - allowing Him to break free the bondage of insecurity and paranoia - allowing Him to open me up to true fellowship and, in turn, be a real friend who really loves. The Bible not only speaks of the agony of relationship, but the inexplicable joy that we can have in relationship with others and, most notably, with Him. I am fully aware there are going to be awkward moments, painful conversations, tears and heartache. In reality, this is true regardless of whether I change or say the same. Why don't I take the path that results in deeper more meaningful communion? The catty, gossipy, critical aroma of the evil one himself that has lingered in most of our lives since middle school has lingered much too long.