my pastor richard once suggested this definition of sin:
that which makes intimacy with God impossible.
this is a beautiful way to understand the garden, i think. suddenly we understand sin not to have merely been the rebellious partaking of a piece of fruit, but the choice of adam and eve to hide from God in shame after something was made not right between them. i wonder where the human race would be if it were not so instinctual to run away from the vulnerability and humility intimacy requires.
this definition of sin also provides a framework by which to understand much of human behavior. all around us, and deep within ourselves, we see the ways we attempt to cover up or drown out our shame-- anything at all but returning to God--because he makes us feel embarrassed, or tired, or requires us to be too honest with ourselves, or perhaps to behave in some ways we don't really feel like behaving.
when the relationship begins requiring the peeling back of our armor, that's when we get busy. isn't much easier and more glamorous to stay on mostly surface-y topics, dashing from group to group so no one really gets to see through the facade? this is true with God, and also with other human beings. real, deep, intimate friendships are unspeakably difficult. most of us can't manage more than a few of these in life, although we pretend to possess dozens of them. in reality, i think we haven't the patience or the courage.
this is why dating chris has taught me so much about God, i think, but a person can learn this lesson about intimacy through friendship as well as romance. when you stand before another person, and you realize you've been found out--all that tinkering on your public face is for nothing, and the bleak truth about your selfish, scared, foolish self is in the open--who wouldn't admit their first instinct is to disconnect, hide, lie, disengage?
there were moments in the last two years when i wanted to quit because it is very hard work, and very humbling, to continue the hard work of honesty with someone when you just want to go back to pretending you've got it all together. but i believe that in practicing this intimacy with chris, by continuing to show up, answer questions honestly, apologize when i'm wrong, and confess my most selfish or fearful thoughts--yes, by practicing with him, i am learning better how to approach God. God is not arithmetic, as brooke sings. i think what God longs for most of all is true intimacy with us, but this is so hard to understand, let alone do. it is hard to even express in a way that doesn't sound cliche and worn-out. and it is indeed tricky to be intimate with someone who is invisible. i'm trying just the same, on my best days.
in the meantime, i will keep practicing, thanking God for dear chris kyle, and all i have learned in my time with him thus far.