I’ve read that part in Genesis so many times, the page is marked and torn. You know the part.
To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”
It’s Genesis 3:16 by the way. In case anyone else wants to rub the page thin, trying to figure it out.
I’m no Bible scholar. I have passages memorized from days long past when my parents lovingly and rightly drilled them into my rebellious brain. I get a kick out of the fact that sometimes in the middle of a Sunday sermon, I will find myself whispering the words just one step ahead of the Pastor and my husband’s eyes glow with pride.
“You are amazing, you know that? To have all that knowledge in your head and to recall it so easily.”
Which is high praise when you consider it’s coming from a man who once (and still) suffers from a traumatic brain injury. I think it a source of pride for myself as well, especially when he recognizes it. I’m not saying it’s healthy for me to be proud of my accomplishment in this area. Just that, considering the topic of this post, it’s a kind of irony.
This Christmas, I came face to face with my pride (and this verse in Genesis). I strongly desire my husband’s approval and attention. So strongly, that it colors my own actions or feelings toward him.
I finally get it. The punishment Eve faced was even more insidious and cruel than I first believed and I wanted to be angry at both men and God in the moment the revelation hit me. In the end, though I struggle with wanting to hold on to my own self-righteousness, I place the blame where it belongs. On Eve’s head. And boy, does that admission hurt.
See, I always questioned why Eve would desire the very person who had, in her greatest hour of need, failed her magnificently. Why on earth would she desire him and how could he rule over her when he couldn’t even keep her from taking the fruit of the tree?
Then it hit me. Because I was always thinking the curse actually hurt Adam more than Eve (minus the childbirth part). But I was focusing on Adam. Eve would struggle (women would struggle) for the entirety of their married life with a desire for their husband that often overwhelms their desire for and service to God. It wasn’t so much that Adam would rule over her.
It was that, his action or inaction, words or lack of words, could make or break her. This was not how God designed marriage obviously. He designed it to be a reflection, a shining example of His love for His bride and her submission to Him. And how could that be when everything in her cried out for her earthly husband’s approval and affirmation? How could she possibly seek after God with her whole heart, when her heart could break over the simplest misstep her husband made.
If he chose passivity, she would struggle over insecurities long buried. If he chose inaction, she would question what she’d done wrong and whether he still loved her.
In the end, her focus, her desire, could very well pull her away from the one thing she needed most. Her heavenly groom’s unconditional and unwavering love.
I gave in to that this Christmas. I focused so hard on my desire for my husband, that I missed my Husband’s joy and affirmation. I focused so hard on my (his) lack, that I missed out on the overflow of His abundance.
I admitted all this to my poor husband, realizing that I’m still not over it. I’m still struggling through it, but I’m aware of my struggle now. And I pray that I can accept and take joy in where my desire should be focused.
Because I may come to a day when my husband can’t give me the desires of my heart. Not that he won’t, but that through no fault of his own (whether through death or disability or illness–temporary or permanent) he will not be able to be what I need. So I need to stop expecting that now and focus on the joy and gratitude when he does meet a need–focus on it in the right context.
As a part of the overflow of a good and abundant God. Not through any ability or talent of my husband’s, but through the blessing of a God who longs so much to give His children–His bride–good things. Who wants our eyes on His abundance, not on our own lack.