Then God said,”Let us make man in our own image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

But for Adam, no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep and while he was sleeping, he took one of his ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame. (Genesis 2:20b-25)

Although verse 25 speaks particularly about their physical appearance, I believe it also refers to their relationship with the Lord God and with each other. There is no need to hide their thoughts or be careful of their words because there was nothing that had to be kept secret -– complete transparency.

I wish I didn’t have to drop down half of an inch in my bible from verse 25 to chapter 3, because it would be so grand to believe that Genesis 1 and 2 lasted, but the events in chapter 3 happened and the fallout continues.

I was raised by various relatives, on both sides of my family, who had been brought up under the weight of shame. Not anything specifically bad, but the shame of not measuring up to expectations. Some of it came from parents, some from siblings, and some, sad to say, from their churches. Duty and rules were the measurements of value and approval. I may have missed it, but I don’t remember actually hearing “I love you” from any of those who were directly involved with me.

About 40 years ago, two things happened that helped me get over the “shame” of seeking help to deal with my own fallout from my raising. First, I received some God-inspired wise words from my 13 year old daughter, “Mom, we want to become what you want us to, but it will come from the inside of us or not at all. And you get certain expressions on your face and tones in your voice and we shut you out!” The second was the movie, “ET”, in which I saw myself as that little, abandoned creature who tried so hard to belong. I cried through the whole movie. The next day I scheduled a counseling appointment with one of our pastors. After I told my story, crying most of the way through, the pastor said to me, “Carolyn, what I’m hearing is that to get any kind of love at all, you’ve had to perform more than adequately, and when you got close to succeeding, they changed the bar.” And then he said what I had said to others, but never heard for myself—“You need to remember, Carolyn, that God loves you because he does, no performance required.” That was the start of my healing.”

How about you? Does some part of my story relate in any way with yours? Do you need to hear for yourself that God loves you, no performance required? There is help for you individually and in support groups. Read and soak in 1 John 4:7-21.