In Between: When Kingdom Comes To Unlikely Places – a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post by Morgan Strehlow
My dear sister and friend in real life is with us today for the Wild in the Hollow Series of guest posts. Her name is Morgan, and I wish you could know her in real life, too. I think Morgan asks important questions here. Listen into your heart a bit after you read. What is your forbidden fruit? What if YOU are meant to play a role in the restoration and reconciliation of peace on earth? Even in all your weakness, what if?
We do not know much about Eve, but we do know this much of the first woman created by God and in the image of God. I have never been able to identify with this good woman, Eve in Eden, naked and not ashamed.
Good – I have been good. But never good enough. I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not clothed in shame or guilt. I cannot remember a time where I was wildly care free and more full of life than I was fear. I always did what was expected of me, and for the most part I was good at meeting or even exceeding expectation, eventually becoming an addict of achievement and accolades. If I was not achieving, what was I really worth? I feared not being worthy, not being great, not being perfect. I have spent a lifetime trying to be good enough.
Perfectionism is my forbidden fruit. Perfectionism has always been my forbidden fruit. Perfect control over my body and over my mind – this is my desire.
Perfectionism as my great weakness? It might seem like an easy way out of a hard question to those who suffer from a different kind of brokenness, but perfectionism is a paralyzing demon that is reliant on both physical and intellectual performance. Enter anxiety. Enter shame.
I most identify with the Eve on her knees outside of the garden gate, desperately grasping for Eden, unknowingly striving for something she will never again touch or taste.
Think about how Eve must have felt in those moments. I wonder how long she might have lingered there at the gate of the garden begging God for all to be made good again, to be made innocent again, to be made perfect. I wonder what it might have felt like to no longer feel good enough, and to feel pain and regret and sadness and fear and failure for the very first time.
I wonder what happened between Genesis 3 and Genesis 4. It is the in between season that I wonder most about – in between the garden and her life as the mother of all the living. Did she make a place for God in the in between? We learn in Genesis 5 that Adam lived to be 930 years old, but we do not read the rest of Eve’s story. Did she become a bitter and hopeless woman, withdrawn from her family? Was she forever weighed down by shame and regret? Or was she able to forgive herself and live a life of hope, knowing God was still the good father who walked with her in the garden?
Within my own soul, I wonder about the the space in between my desire for power, control and perfectionism and my desire for Kingdom Come. Do I make a place for God in the in between or do I reserve that space for shame and fear? I know what I should do and then I know what I do – those are almost always two different things. If I truly believe that God is up to something good, then why would I not invite him to the places that need to be restored and made good again?
Getting back to the garden is something I do think about often, that perhaps it is not just by the grace of God that will get us there but also the work of his people. Maybe it is flawed theology – it is possible that I am not here to play a role in the restoration and reconciliation of peace on earth – but what if I am? What if I lived my life like I am? What if you did? What if a whole lot of us joined together in hope and desire for good and helped pave the path back to Eden? What would happen if we talked out loud about our own anxieties and the injustices in this world that burden us deeply, and then take action together as restorers who seek to mend earth’s brokenness?
Finally, what if Kingdom Come is not just a destination, something to achieve by being good enough or right enough or strong enough, something to save you at the end of your life, but rather something you let come alongside you in this long and winding and imperfectly messy journey home?
Here recently I have been leaning on this ancient prayer, the one Jesus prayed when he was teaching his disciples how to pray, as I myself relearn how to pray. The Lord’s Prayer has been a healing balm for my anxious prayer life, one that has been battered and bruised by perfectionism.
Our Father, in heaven,
Hallowed be your name.
Your Kingdom Come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive our sins,
As we forgive those trespasses
Of the ones who have sinned against us.
And lead us not into temptation.
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
And the power, and the glory forever.
Come Lord. May we know that no hidden place, no in between space, is unlikely for your Kingdom.
Morgan is a college athletic administrator by trade, and occasionally writes about her spiritual journey at morganrainer.com. She is a has-been blogger who took the Xanga world by storm back in 2003 as a morally superior thirteen-year-old who shared her incredibly thorough notes and reflections from youth group services so the entire middle school internet would hear the gospel and be saved. SuperDitz456 ironically went on to graduate at the top of her college class before also earning a master’s degree. She continues to make her parents proud, despite abandoning the Southern Baptist tradition of her youth. Morgan lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas with her husband Sean, her former college tennis teammate and her teammate for life.