“She took of its fruit and ate.” How many of us are guilty of this? Thousands of years later and we still desire what we ought not. After all, she had EVERYTHING!! A perfect husband and amazing home, her every need was provided for, and the greatest gift of all - she literally “walked with God.” What was the original woman going through? Thousands of years later can we relate to her struggle? I think so! Let’s take a closer look at what was going on.
First, I think that the woman felt as though God was holding out on her. The serpent says, “Did God really tell you not to eat of the tree?” The serpent places doubt in her heart. We can all relate to that ugly voice inside us that whispers in our darkest places and suddenly our heads have run away with us. We’ve begun to consider all possibilities of betrayal. Next, she begins floundering. How do I know this? Woman tells the serpent that God told them not to eat or even touch the tree. Look at the previous text, Genesis 2:16 & 17 (Read carefully). Does God tell them that they may not touch the fruit? No, He does not. How many of us have fallen into this? When we feel threatened by something or want to be taken seriously, we exaggerate. It’s a desperate attempt at being heard. She’s floundering. Lastly, where is her husband? Scripture tells us that she gives the fruit to her husband, “who was with her.” The Hebrew text indicates that he was literally standing right next to her, watching her flounder, fail, and fall. Didn’t God just say in Genesis 2:18 “It's not good for them to be alone (paraphrase)?” Yet, the woman does not ask Adam for help and he does not step up and offer it. Neither did as they were created to.
I think each of us can relate to the struggle that was playing out. No matter what your brand of sin tends to be, the process of sin is always the same. Every sin is rooted in a mistrust of God’s plan for us. We doubt Him and His plan and, thinking He is holding out on us, we desire to “fix” God’s plan by grasping for something apart from what He gives us. In the woman’s case it was the fruit of the forbidden tree, but in our own lives it could just as easily be security, control, pleasure, or affirmation. Finally, we make the decision to do what is beneath us: sin.
But there is hope in this story. Genesis goes on to tell us that God then bars Adam and Eve from Eden “to guard the way to the tree of life”. At a glance this seems cruel, like salt in an open wound. But if Adam and Eve would have eaten of the Tree of Life (eternal life) after the fall, they would have remained in sin forever. So he places an angel at the gate and sets up a plan to restore man. Only God doesn’t want to just restore original innocence. He wants to elevate it even further. By becoming man, God does just this. He elevates humanity. St. Augustine says that original sin is the “happy fault that merited for us so great a redeemer.”
The challenge is then to look at our sin as St. Augustine did. The next time you flounder, fail, and fall, take a moment, look to Heaven and know that God can and will use your faults to bring about salvation. We need only look to the saints to know this is true. St. Paul’s zeal killed Christians. God used that zeal to make him one of the greatest evangelists. St. Augustine had a passion for worldly knowledge and pleasure. God used that passion to make him one of the greatest instructors in the Church to this day. St. Francis was the “popular kid”. God used his ability to influence people to rebuild the Church!
Reflect: It’s true each of us can relate to that first woman-we’re all sinners. But we can also relate to another woman, Mary. Mary’s yes to God’s will undid Eve’s no. Being Christian women means we are women that say yes. We strive to live each moment surrendering our lives to the will of God.
Act:Take a moment today and ask God to use the darkness of your past sins to be the light for someone else’s future. Ask Mary to help you.
And remember the words of Augustine, “O, Happy Fault!” o you notice the moments in your life that lead you into sin? If so, can you see the flounder, the fail, and the fall? Have you ever thought that the Lord can use your weakness to be something great?