So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden…” Genesis 3:23
My daughter Summer loves my attention. There are times when her passion knocks me to the ground. Literally. She wrestles and hugs with such force that my wife and I fear personal injury. One afternoon, I arrived home from work, and I felt like the sled on a football practice field. I braced myself for the hit and leaned forward so as not to lose my balance. For the moment, my daughter was all about daddy.
I walked into the kitchen in search of a snack. Summer followed in search of her dad. I poured a glass of water and opened a bag of pretzels. She lifted my untucked shirt and stuck her head inside. I maneuvered around the kitchen with a caboose. As I ate, Summer began to tell me about her day. We went to the zoo today, Daddy. Steven did something funny at the monkeys, and Theresa…
My mind shifted to my workday. Before I knew it, Summer was on the couch with her face planted in the corner. In a span of about fifteen seconds, she had asked me a question, and I had stuttered in my answer. I asked her to repeat her question. Instead I got what I deserved: an angry and hurt daughter. In my hesitation and lack of response, Summer knew I was not present with her. My own fear and shame around unresolved stories at work kept me from the full attention my daughter craved.
My daughter is only six, and she already knows the cost of broken relationship.
The Cost of Broken Relationship
A healthy marriage requires two spouses who also know the cost of broken relationship. Disconnection is a story we know so well that we have spent a lifetime in attempt to avoid it. Our story begins in Genesis. Adam and Eve had it all. They had full freedom, permission, and invitation to enjoy creation as they desired. More so, they had God. They walked in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the morning in His presence, unbroken relationship with Him and with each other. There was no praying and wondering whether God would answer. Eve never had to worry about Adam tuning into the ballgame instead of her. Adam never worried about Eve making a grocery list as they made love.
We all know what tragedy happens next in Genesis 3. But in the interest of understanding your own heart, pause for a minute. Resist running ahead with the story. Ponder your own desire for perfect relationship. Are you aware of your own capacity for unbroken connection, and the loss you feel when relationship breaks down? This question is crucial, and yet very few know themselves well enough to answer it.
What you do with the cost of broken relationship has everything to do with the presence you offer your spouse.
What we do with our ache for unbroken relationship becomes the foundation for our character. Every human being has been reeling from the pain and loneliness of disconnection since our exile from Eden. As we grow up, our character is chosen and built based on how we decide to handle our heart’s longing for unbroken relationship with God and others.
How well do you know your own heart? Can you put to words what is stirring inside of you at any given moment? Both our woundedness and sin stem from our unmet longings, desires, and hopes and how we have decided to live in a world of broken relationship. A heart made for Eden cannot but long for its home. As magnificent and awesome as this world can be, the best intimacy it can offer is flawed and fragmented.
Are you aware of your longing for perfect relationship? Where has the search for Eden taken you? How does this show up in your marriage now? This is the beginning of knowing your story.
God invites us to be aware of our own heart (Psalm 139:23, Proverbs 4:23). When I was not aware of my own heart, I abandoned my daughter for a brief moment. But she felt it, and her tears proved what I do with my heart affects the presence I offer, and it matters.