Restraint

The LORD God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.” – Genesis 2:16-17 (NRSV)

When the new year dawned two months ago, my social media feed was filled with people saying goodbye: “I’m letting go of my burdens and picking up my freedom.” “I’m forgiving last year’s disappointments and welcoming the new year’s expectations.” “I’m muting unhealthy friendships.”

There’s wisdom to these choices … and plenty of songs to accompany them, for those of us who lean on music to bolster our determination.

“Wave your little hand and whisper ‘So long dearie,’” is a personal favorite, à la Bette, Barbra, Pearl, and Carol, in Hello, Dolly!

“Let it go, let it go; turn away and slam the door,” via Idina Menzel in Frozen. (And I thank God that my children were too old to obsess over this movie when it was released.)

To say goodbye, in the healthiest sense, is to claim and proclaim a boundary. It’s to say, “I am here, you are there, and our paths are not identical.” It’s to identify our “yes” and our “no.” It’s to recognize that not everything is ours to have, not everyone is ours to hold, not every mystery is ours to know.

God tells the human that the garden is full of sustenance for the mind, body, and spirit … but not every provision in the garden is meant to be consumed. Not all knowledge is meant to be known—not all knowledge can be known—by the human. To resist the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is to accept this boundary.

Deliver my spirit from craving, “Mine! Mine!” and soothe my heart with the good news of boundaries.

written for the 2020 Lenten Devotional
(a Stillspeaking Writers’ Group product)

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