Sugar. Spice. Everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of.
Prince. Promise. Paradise. That’s what teenage girls dream of.
Something old. Something new. Something borrowed. Something blue. That’s what brides are adorned in.
Somewhere between nursery rhymes and a walk down the marriage aisle to greet her Prince, a young woman longs for Paradise. When she walks the aisle, the dream is real. Thus the beginning of something beautiful and sacred – the marital covenant. A God given, God gifted, and God ordained personal Garden of Eden. And deep within her heart the dream of Paradise remains.
So how does life become shaded?
Before this question is answered, let’s discuss what the movie Fifty Shades does well. Look at this youtube.com clip of the interview between the man and the woman.
From a marriage and relationship standpoint, here’s how this one movie clip touches the God-given emotional core of a woman and stirs Paradise in her soul:
The woman has the undivided attention of the man.
The man’s eye contact and body posture speak even more loudly than his words.
The man is interested in the woman.
The man appeals to her probable love language, words of affirmation.
The man inquires about her dreams.
This movie clip is almost as enticing as the apple presented by the serpent in the original Eden.
Why? Because it reaches to the (apple) core of how God created each human. The same needs and desires that were deeply rooted in Eden and into the souls of every human born since the First Couple:
The need to be heard and known (no fig leaves).
The need to be affirmed.
The need to be praised.
The need to be safe.
The need to be touched.
The need to be passionately desired.
The need to be included.
While the original couple walked in the Garden shaded by the beauty of creation, it lasted only as long as the beginning of Genesis 3. And so it goes with us. The Great Swap of shaded trees to shaded reality.
The volitional disobedience in the Garden caused a ripple effect of decay into all areas of life – spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational.
Just East of Eden, on the outskirts of “Paradise”, is the land called “Reality”. And “Reality” – where we live – will most likely be the motivating factor for many to journey to the theatrical destination of “Dreamland” next weekend. Let’s take a trip back in time to glance at what “Reality” used to look like.
Paradise used to be Reality.
Paradise, a Persian word, refers to the Garden of Eden, a beautifully enclosed garden for mankind’s first couple. The equivalent word for “Eden” in Hebrews means “delight” and “pleasure”. Within the confines of this garden, the couple had everything. They were naked, unashamed, and guilt free. Within their God-given boundaries, they had the gift of freedom.
Once volitional disobedience entered the Garden, Paradise was no more. And all of creation was affected and marred. In our present day, the literal fig leaves worn by the First Couple have become metaphorical for all of our human relationships. In our personal Garden of Eden, we clothe ourselves in criticism, unforgiveness, or point the finger of blame. Shame and guilt run amok in the land East of Eden, the present day land of Reality. And in this land of Reality, we find Fifty Shades. Fifty Shades of grey in areas that steal our delight and pleasure in our personal Gardens of Eden: busyness, life, kids, responsibility, caregiving, careers. And the list is endless. Why? Because the First Couple was the first to learn that now their day to day existence would be laborious. So now humankind travels from Paradise to the land of Reality with an occasional emotional glance when we used to reside in Dreamland.
The original design for the marital covenant remains the same. Man. Woman. Covenantal relationship. All bestowed and gifted by the Creator.
So how can we reclaim Paradise? The same way it decayed in the first place. Choice. Volition. The same volition that was acted on that stole away delight and pleasure is the same volition that reclaims what was meant to be.
Your marriage will never be Paradise by default.
And, as a result of the fall, now you have to be intentional and choose to make it all that it’s supposed to be. You can reclaim the pleasure and delight that was once was. Choose to make your Eden a Dreamland of Reality that existed on the day you walked the wedding aisle (Proverbs 5:18b). It takes work. Hard work.
Give your spouse undivided attention.
Communicate lovingly with tone, body language, and eye contact.
Be interested in your spouse.
Appeal to your spouse’s primary Love Language.
Continue to dream as a couple.
Sugar. Spice. Everything nice. Prince. Promise. Paradise. It’s not Fifty Shades of Grey after all. It’s really black and white.
[**This blog is not an endorsement for the book or the novel. Seek professional counseling if your marriage is struggling.]