With all the events happening in the world, I find myself wondering, “Why?” or better yet, “What?” What is it that really causes conflict? What is it that turns a situation from being one of working together to one of working against? What is it that divides?
A number of months ago and out of nowhere, I had an experience that blind-sided me. At the time, I felt taken advantage of and betrayed. I had trusted that there was honesty and authenticity, but come to find out, there was not. There was an exchange that started out in what seemed a positive direction, but then it came to light that there was only darkness and deceit on the other side…and hidden underneath that darkness and deceit were assumptions, judgments and misinterpretations driven mostly by fear.
There is the saying, “Money is the root of all evil,” but it certainly seems that fear ought to be right up there next to money, if not above it. It is often fear unchecked, that is behind words, actions, and inactions that can cause damage and destruction for both, me, and the world around me. It can stop me in my tracks. It can unleash anger and anxiety (among other feelings) that may tempt and cause me to act in ways that I would not otherwise. Fear, unchecked and in charge, can make me run fast, far, and wide, and most significantly, it can lead me away from the very place where I need to be.
In the Book of Genesis, while we can see that jealousy played a part in all that happened between the serpent and Eve and then Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden, we can also see that fear was right there too. After the fruit has been eaten, Adam and Eve hear God walking in the garden and they hide. (Thousands of years removed, and from what I have come to believe about God, I find this somewhat humorous. Like anyone can actually hide from God. However, I suppose we can, and do at times, allow ourselves to think we are hiding from God.)
God says to Adam, “Where are you?” God does not say, “What have you done? One tree, man! I asked you and the woman to stay away from one tree!…” God does not criticize Adam and Eve up one side of the Garden of Eden and down the other. God does not shame them, try to make them more fearful, or strip away their dignity (further than their actions have already done).
While there are consequences for their actions, God still cares for them and about them, and does not abandon them. God already knows what they have done and could simply call them out and punish them, but instead God starts by simply asking, “Where are you?” What a great question!
God wants to hear their story. God wants to hear our story. How open are we to hearing each other’s stories?
Imagine how different life might be if we took the time to ask and to consider of ourselves, and others, “Where are you?”
I imagine there would be fewer assumptions, judgments, and misinterpretations…fewer misunderstandings…less fear…and more love in the world.