Maybe I should not claim to speak for every woman, so I’ll just broaden this to every person.
At creation, humans were created by God. Humans were given a job to tend to a garden, the Garden of Eden, that was created for them. But God did not NEED anyone to work the garden. He did not even NEED a garden. Nor did God NEED company.
So why were humans created? I believe they were made to be known – and loved – by God. Genesis 2:25 recounts that after God created Eve to help Adam, they “were both naked and were not ashamed.” Is there a more vulnerable way to be known than to stand naked before someone? Even more-so, before a God who is perfect in every way? Yet, there was no shame or fear from Adam or Eve. That, I think, is what it must be to be fully known by God.
And I think we still carry that desire.
However, after the first sin, disobeying God and eating from a tree he commanded them not to eat from, we see that they hid themselves. Chapter 3:9-10 says that “…the Lord God called to the man and said to [Adam], ‘Where are you?’ And [Adam] said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’”
Something shifted. Now we see that Adam recognizes that being naked – being known – is a vulnerable position, one to be feared.
Hiding is a reaction of shame, which is “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” And we still see this fractioned reaction today. Sometimes in response to wrong or foolish behavior, but it also creeps into the very weaving of our conversations and relationships.
Because of Adam and Eve, we now hide in reaction to being known.
What I can, with 100% certainty speak to, is the way I see this play out in my own life. Being 35 and single is a unique place to be, especially in the church, which is just getting around to affirming singleness as good and useful instead of something to be given sympathy and fixed.
And to be clear, I am not opposed to my life and my status as a single woman. In fact, I would go so far as to say, out of all of my friends and people I know, I may be the most able to not only bear singleness, but thrive. But I think I forget that I am still able to be affected, flustered, by the attention of single men.
But my natural reaction to attention from men, or people in general, is not to stand bravely before them with confidence. In fact, my natural reaction is not even meet people half-way. My natural reaction is to hide. Hide behind silence. Hide behind distance. Hide behind a mountain of reasons I should not be known:
Fear of being discovered.
Fear of not being wanted.
Fear of being too young or too old (35 is weird in that way).
Fear of being intimidating.
Fear of not being impressive.
This list goes on.
But, in all of that, my natural response is to hide.
There is something flattering about attention, but also something that feels scary and dangerous. I can certainly hold my own in the small talk like a champ, coming across as a confident woman who has nothing to lose.
But, the secret is, I am afraid.
And yet, the truth is that I have nothing to lose.
And that’s the irony.
The things I fear are the things I want most deeply – and the things I want most deeply I already have.
I am fully known by God. And I am fully approved of by God.
Not because I am anything on my own. Not because I am worthy or unique or impressive.
But God, in his infinite love, sent his Son, Jesus, to live a perfect life – one that Adam and Eve did not live – without sin and then to die a death – a death of sacrifice – to take my place for the sin in which I participate. Essentially, I am fully known by God because that is why I was created. But I am fully approved of by God because that is why Jesus came and died.
Yet, in the mini-moments of my day-to-day life, the conversations, the happenstances, when I become flustered and distracted, caught up in the small talk that 99.8% of the time leads no where past the doorframe of my way out, I forget these things.
I am known by God.
I am approved by God.
I actually have nothing to fear.
I have nothing to lose.
And in that revelation my longings that have been revived in that moment have a place to land. Not in the hope of further conversation or a next step, but in a God who loves me enough to know me so fully – the worst things about me – and yet still offer his perfect Son as a sacrifice for my sake.
How amazing that I can stand fully known and fully loved by a perfect God without fear or shame. If I believe that is true, then what is there to fear in the day-to-day?