“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway
How beautiful and lovely a quote and how achingly true and hard it is to carry out. Sometimes I feel like my words have no value. I feel like all of the words have been said, and I have nothing left to offer the world. But, as I’ve recently heard, there’s always room at the table.(Thanks, Jen Hatmaker. Also I love you and want to be your best friend.) Jesus, let me be bold enough to lay down my heart and life and mind and words at the table, so my brothers and sisters can feed on them to nourish themselves and their souls. Let me be brave enough to sit at the typewriter (okay, macbook) and bleed. I want to say the things I feel and come confidently to the table with my words. So, at yet another attempt at being brave (I suppose this will be a continuous thing), my hiatus of word-writing shall be over if I deem it so. So, in the midst of the first couple of months of marriage, student teaching, and the craziest-in-the-best-way semester of life, here are my words. I hope, even if they’ve been said before, I could say them in a way that makes sense for someone’s soul somewhere. That my words could encourage, lend a helping hand, be a friend, and whisper into hearts, “you are not the only one.” We’re in this together, my friends. You are not alone. Not for a second.
Longing for Eden.
Man, oh man aren’t we all. In a world that is hurt and broken and torn. In a world where things just aren’t as they’re supposed to be. I find myself longing for Eden on a daily basis. Longing to live in a world where things don’t hurt. Things aren’t broken. Things aren’t torn. Living in a world where things are exactly as God intended for them to be. And, I’d be willing to bet that you’re longing for that too. Your soul feels restless at times. I know mine does. Even when things are good, and lovely, and you’re in your element. When you’re surrounded with love and your overflowing with gratitude. Our souls are still pulsing with the weight of travel. They don’t feel totally at home. Because guess what: they aren’t. While life on earth can be so incredibly sweet, and meaningful, and passion-filled if we are living a life in relationship with Jesus, this is still not our souls’ natural habitat. That longing you feel, even in your best, most loved moments. That’s when you’re longing for Eden. When you want the purity of life before the fall. A life we have never known here. We know it exists. We know it’s coming. But we just haven’t arrived yet.
This semester I’m finishing up my bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education, and I’ll graduate in December. I’m student teaching in a 10th grade class room. (YES, I know what you’re thinking. Please pray.) In the irony of ironies, we have been studying creation stories, and have read Genesis chapters 1-3 where God creates the heavens and the earth, creates Adam and Eve, and creates Eden. As we read these chapters out loud, I kept reflecting on Eden in ways I hadn’t before. In an arena where I’m supposed to be objectively teaching this creation story, the Lord was clearly trying to clue me in on something. And I started picturing how the Garden must have truly been. Beautiful flowers, juicy, delicious fruits, singing birds, flowing creeks, and warm sunshine, light hearts, and easy days. Direct community and intimacy with God. What a picture of the good life. And then sin enters, and we know how it goes from there.
Flash forward to the next day and one of my sweet students comes into class crying. Clearly upset about something, so I suggest we walk out in the hall and chat. With gentle probing, I ask her what was wrong. With a heavy heart, and big tears she tells of her struggles. For her privacy, I won’t go into any detail, but we all remember what it was like to be fifteen. And in that moment, I had the sweetest opportunity to speak truth over my student. In a place where it is so controversial to bring up God, He gave me truth to speak, and words to say without having to overstep my boundaries as a public school teacher. I told the girl how she was worth so much more than anything anyone could say to her or about her.
And then, I relayed some advice to her that my dad would use to encourage me. He would say to me, “Aubri. Are you a blue sheep?” I would roll my eyes, because I knew where this was going.
“No dad. No, I’m not a blue sheep.”
“Okay, then. So, if someone calls you a blue sheep, then are you a blue sheep?”
“Ugh, no dad. That still doesn’t make me a blue sheep.”
“Right. So, just because someone says something about you doesn’t make it true.”
Yes. Yes. Yes. How right he was. Those words have stuck with me for years and years, and those were some of the words that came back to me when it was my turn to remind someone of their worth. Because we are all worth so much.
This moment with my student reminded me how broken our world is. How sin has affected our relationships. How we’re all longing for something more. Longing for the Eden we know about, or have read about, or have heard about in passing. Where sin isn’t lurking around every corner waiting for us to walk on by.
For the present thankfully, we have hope in the person of Jesus Christ. He is our safe-haven here on earth until we make it back to the perfection of Eden one of these days. When our hearts will no longer feel the tug of it’s beauty calling it. When we’ll get to laugh and dance and sing in the perfection of the love of the Father. When our souls will finally be home.
So, till then… we’ll be longing for Eden. And we have the confidence and the hope that it’s going to be so, so good. And that it’s coming. And that we’ll get to engage in the fullness of it’s riches for eternity.
Blessings, my friends. You are not alone. We’ll all be longing together, but that community is what makes life here worth the living.