"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."
—Genesis 3:24,25; Moses 3:24,25; Abraham 5:18,19
For the last few days, I've been thinking about those verses. Yes, they make me blush a little bit. Yes, there was some giggling as we read them with our teenage daughter. But there is a deep meaning behind the surface of those words, and I am going to take a risk sharing what I think it is.
Of course, we know that Adam and Eve were in an innocent state in the Garden of Eden, like small children. They were not aware of their own nakedness. But there is another important dimension between a husband and wife. Not the physical dimension, but the emotional and spiritual.
One of the surprises I had after I got married was how keenly aware my wife was of my funny little habits and tendencies, my hidden quirks. Well, they were hidden to me, but not to her. Nobody had ever pointed out such things to me before. Not my parents. Not my missionary companions.
She pointed them out to me, but she did it gently. Respectfully. So the revelation of these odd human turns was not devastating to me. It was, and continues to be, quite entertaining. And helpful. Sometimes painful, but nevertheless, necessary and helpful.
In a sense, I was (and am) emotionally naked before her, but not ashamed. I am able to expose the deepest parts of myself, some odd parts, some hardly defined, without shame or chagrin.
Now, she hasn't always been gentle. Not 100 percent of the time. And rightfully so, because, like any of us with our spouses, sometimes we can annoy each other. (Like slurping when I was eating my bowl of Rice Chex last night.) But she is kind. And because she is kind, it is easier for me to respond, to stop, to change. If she was critical and negative about these things, it would be more difficult for me to change them. I would be on the defense. But I am not. After 30 years of marriage, I realize I need this help. I welcome it.
And it goes both ways. I have also readily pointed out her darling little quirks as she has mine. I know I have not always been as kind and gentle about it as I could be. But I am now. Most of the time.
This is an important part of human growth.
Then, too, there is the spiritual side. There are the spiritual experiences. There are the tears. The ones I keep hidden—most of the time—from other people, but which I can't hide from her. Tears from the depth of my spirit, from daily sorrows and frustrations, the complete range of human experience, all there for her to see like no other person can see. And I am not ashamed.
It really is one of the small, great joys of life, to be so safe with another person that you can reveal your complete, unedited self, without fear or shame.
That's what those verses mean to me.
P.S. Eating a bowl of cereal at night (or two bowls) is an old habit that I had broken many months ago. Now it's back. It's a sign of stress; it's comfort food. I am working on it.