I’ve started reading through the Bible, which makes it sound like I either rarely do or never have, but reading from cover to cover has actually not been my favorite way to read scripture. I’ve pushed through a couple of reading plans, and was always so thankful I did, but this time I’m gonna do a more “at your own pace” reading. I got started, in Genesis. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
I love rereading familiar texts; especially when it seems something new appears. Like turning a prism – it’s the same object, but a different pattern of colors with even the slightest twist. It’s not always huge or a revelation. And so far, I haven’t discovered something that was not somehow already uncovered by thousands of years of theologians before me, but still, it’s just small things, just neat things, small and personal.
Reading through Genesis 2, I was considering the shift within Adam and Eve when they are “naked and unashamed” (2:25) and then later, “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (3:7) It’s this from “uncovered to covered” I was thinking about.
I can be obsessive when it comes to self improvement. Send me an article that tells me, “If you do _________, it will improve your life by _____________,” and I will for sure at least strongly consider it. Someone told me once, “If you floss regularly it will add up to seven years to your life.” You can do a lot with seven years so I dove in. (Note: I had been cavity free my whole life before this statement and then following a few weeks of flossing, 9 cavities. 😕) I read a whole thing on dry brushing, an article on Vitamin B, heard a podcast on the power of plants, had an orthopedic doctor tell me, “If people stretched 3 mins a day, my case load would be cut in half.” – each time, the allure of self-improvement rang beckoned me. (Reading this makes me feel like the most gullible person ever.)
Spirituality has not been that different. I’m always interested in pressing in to neglected disciplines, reading something new, or having my mentor challenge me. God has had to break into my constant I-need-to-do-more mentality several times, especially when a desire to go deeper is really in response to feeling not good enough. “You and I are actually okay. And it’s okay to just be okay.” That’s what God whispers over my heart when I get stuck in a self-improvement rut.
But while reading this tension in Genesis, I found myself asking, “What is it I am trying to cover? What are the things I am trying to ‘sew fig leaves’ to avoid people seeing, or seeing myself, or to fain an attempt to cover from God?”
So I sat with those questions for a while. Not in a shaming or self-deprecating way, but more curious.
Have you ever noticed that the covering comes before the hiding in our story?
“But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’” (3:9-10)
I wonder if there is benefit to considering the things we try and cover, in an effort to maybe get ahead of, and possibly avoid, the season of hiding.
Why did I say that didn’t bother me when it did?
Why did I act like I didn’t care about that?
Why did I feel the need to rationalize that; sewing together what I know were my mental “fig leaves?”
In our story, in the beginning, we go from uncovered, to tempted, to covered, to hiding…quickly jumping to blaming and excuses, evolving into consequences and disconnect with God.
I’m not sure I don’t do this in a million tiny ways every day. I know for sure that there have been a few big ways I have done this.
Consider what you are covering. And let God open your eyes before you start sewing fig leaves.
To Cover or Not to Cover