Friday, July 17, 2015

Summertime and Wearing Fur

Sweet children playing at school in Buena Fé, Perú - March 2014
original post here 
Behold, sweet summertime. Being a teacher, and before that a student,  I estimate that 84% of my life has revolved around the school schedule where summer equals one thing: NO SCHOOL. Two years ago I started teaching on the 'year round' schedule, and this was a bit sad to me as it meant a quick 4 week break and starting a new school year in July. July should have been the pinnacle of watermelon eating, sunburns and days spent at the pool, but instead it became school supplies and waking up early. Last summer I started teaching online which meant that I was doubly saddened when our new school year started in July and I was teaching face-to-face and my summer evenings were no longer bike rides and late sunsets but parent phone calls and grading. Lots of grading.

This summer though. This summer. This is the ultimate summer. This is the summer I have been waiting for my entire life. This summer, I work from home. Which means I can arrange my schedule around whatever summer adventure I want to. Have I done this? A few times. Do I enjoy it? Absolutely. Is it hot outside? Oh yes. Do I belong to a pool? Nope. Am I going outside? Not that much.

But, it is good. 

This summer I decided it would be good for me to join the summer evening ladies' bible study at our church. I have been minimally involved since Lincoln was born (really, since I got pregnant and threw up the first time) and I figured it would be good for me to have some out-of-the-house-without-the-baby-time. And I was right! I've only gone twice, but I have stacked it with some sort of errand running afterwards and it has been a spectacular 90 minute vacation on my Tuesdays that I have come to love.

The icing on top of the cake is the study that we are doing on Biblical Storytelling. It is titled something like "Beginning to End" which essentially conveys that is about the entire bible as a story. This idea I was first introduced to in college at the Raleigh church I attended at the time, and for the first time in my life it all made sense to me. Oh. The same God that sent Jesus also sent Noah. Oh. Jesus came because Adam and Eve sinned. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Once it clicked, I thought 'Oh! I'll just read the whole thing now, now that I understand that it all fits together!' and that was almost 10 years ago and I have yet to actually read the whole Bible. I have started at least 3 times and made it to mid-Leviticus and then found something else to do. Le sigh. Another goal, another day, another blogpost. Back to the point, which is:

Storytelling. When I went to Peru in March of last year we were linked with 3 translators that work for the International Mission Board that were in the habit of evangelizing through storytelling. Personally, stories really speak to me, often more than just outright getting to the point of whatever it is.  If you can give me a story with some symbolism, common reoccurring themes, irony, or (insert whatever random literary term here) I will internalize the heck of that thing, much more than just telling me "the point". I will forget the point, but a story will captivate me. So, the idea of doing missions and evangelizing like this was huge to me. Personally, I was kind of over the whole mission trip scene. Bible tracts. Service projects. Matching t-shirts. The whole thing just seemed insincere to me (yes, even though I was on this trip and paid money to be there... another day, another post.) but sharing stories. Sharing stories from our Bible with people in a way that made them so real. So captivating. So, normal.

For generations, stories of God traveled through families as stories told before bed or at mealtimes. Even better, in the decades before the story of Jesus was recorded in writing it was told in families, to friends that had heard it. So simple. I even think about stories of my family, as a kid asking my parents "tell me again, the story of how you met" or "tell me about the time when I was a baby", stories are engraved in who we are as people. As humans. Each of us are in our own story, and sharing those with each other being parts in each other's story, and on an even bigger scale we are all apart of this story, the story of Time. This all just captivates me and thinking about it makes me so excited and gives me a headache all at the same time.

Discovering that the summer bible study was actually preparation for us to learn how to tell these Bible stories, specifically the quick version of Creation to Restoration (and everything in between) was of utmost excitement and an undeniable answer to a prayer that I hadn't really prayed out loud. Several weeks ago I sent a message to one of translators asking if he had a video or transcript of how he told his creation story (literally what we are learning in this Bible study) so I could practice it to teach to Lincoln. Or God could put me in a 6 week study to learn myself. That works too, I suppose.

This week was week 2 and we learned how to tell the story of The Fall. A story that has always been taught to me as a sad story. The fateful day that Adam and Eve disobeyed God. It was terrible, how sinful they were to eat of the tree and then because of their disobedience God would punish them with contractions and a life of manual labor. Moral of the story: don't disobey God, or you will be punished. You can read it here in Genesis 3.

As a child, that is how I remember the story. And the moral. Although, there was more to it that I legitimately never noticed until Tuesday.
  1. God cursed the serpent and he cursed the ground.
  2. God clothed Adam and Eve. 
I had always viewed the changes that happened after Adam and Eve's 'oops' as a punishment. They disobeyed and therefore they were punished. The more that I read and read and read (commentaries and different translations) the more I start to see God's reaction to this as a loving father, and not that of a God who has been scorned by his only two people and then gave them what was coming to them. 

What caught my eye in the translation we read at the Bible study was when God addressed the snake he said, "your punishment shall be...." but when he addressed Adam and Eve, he never cursed them. He didn't say "your punishment is this", it was almost as if he was simply explaining the natural consequences of their actions. 

"Hey, so you guys disobeyed me. Things are different now. You can't live forever with sin and with me. I have cursed the ground and you will have to work hard to provide food for your family. Childbirth is going to be rough out there, without me. It's going to be painful. Marriage? That's going to be rough too.  You will eventually die and become dust again, just like that that I made you from. It's going to be different, now. " 

And, here is what nearly brought me to tears (because I am a mom now and that is how we, as a people, respond to most things): 

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.


(So before my Bible people get in a tizzy about me missing the big picture, there's a big theological thing here that I totally get, and see. Animal sacrifice for people, Jesus is the lamb, he is sacrificed for people... foreshadowing, reoccurring theme, symbolism, etc. but what stuck out to me is the simplicity of his actions.)

This season of new parenthood has brought up a lot of questions and feelings about my own parents and becoming one. The baby stage, while physically and mentally difficult at times is probably a 2 on the parenting scale (0 being pregnant, 1 being delivery and 10 having adult children? It all seems to increase in difficulty).  I have never been betrayed by my child. He has never sinned against me, minus the time he smiled and laughed at Marshall before doing so at me, but I have since forgiven him (and I am clearly the favorite around teething/meal time). But, I can guarantee you that when that day comes when this sweet baby child tells me no for the first time. Or does something in public that mortifies me. Or lies to me about something he did. Or skips class. Or smokes pot. Or gets arrested. That I am not going to calmly explain the differences in our life now because of this choice that he made. I am probably going to lose my freaking mind. I might even want my precious baby to feel as bad about what he did as it makes me feel. Because I am human and I am prideful and these sort of reactions come natural to me.

The second time my baby child trespasses against me, I would hope that I would be more in control of my emotions and might have a calm talking-to with him. But the first time? Pretty sure I'm going to have to learn from that one.

The first time God was sinned against, he handled it like a total champ. He didn't yell and scream and give arbitrary punishments (except to that mean ole snake, who big fat DESERVED IT). He let Adam and Eve know what would be happening next then he gave them something to wear.

Let me talk about the number of times a night I got up the first few weeks of life to make sure that my precious baby child's temperature was just right. Was he too hot? Was he cold? Does he need another blanket? Is he swaddled ok?

Let me talk about the number of pajamas (just pajamas!) that I have for my child. Onesies! Pants! Shorts! Hoodies! Shirts! Socks! My goodness, don't get me started on the socks.

As a parent we have this basic desire to clothe our children. To keep them warm. To keep them comfortable. In a world where sickness, disease, hate, crime, pain and suffering run rampant (thanks Adam and Eve) all we can do for sure in a given moment is button up a fresh set of pajamas and in that second know that our baby is content and warm.

So, I love that God clothed Adam and Eve. He took an animal, killed it and clothed his babies. In the midst of sin, and punishment and betrayal, he saw fit to provide for them a basic necessity to keep them from feeling even more ashamed than they probably already did. What a father! What attention to detail. What attention to our human hearts. I love viewing God from this new parent lens of mine.

I am feeling so grateful for this new summer of mine. Yay for time off, slow summer days and time to learn and think. What is God teaching you this summer?

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