Dating in the 21st century is challenging. Occasionally, among my friends, the topic of dating will arise amid long sighs and rolling eyes. We idealize the days of what seems long ago when boy met girl, boy asked girl out, boy and girl went to the movies, and, like a reel of a Doris Day film, things seem to move swiftly along to happily ever after. What happened?
Recently, I was reading the Genesis story. When it occurred to me, “Wait, was Adam the first to swipe left?”
For those of you who haven’t entered into the foray of the dating app phenomenon swiping left means no, swiping right means maybe/interested.
In Genesis 2:18 God identifies it isn’t good for Adam to be alone, and says he will make an aide, or strong rescuer (the translation I prefer for the Hebrew word “ezer”, which is commonly translated “helper/helpmate”) for him.
Immediately following this proclamation, Adam is introduced and given the task of naming every living creature. Naturally, I wanted to know how many species are accounted for in the world. Currently 8.7 million. On average, a person who lives to be 78 meets 80,000 people in their lifetime. Point being, it took a long time for Adam to swipe through every creature on the planet. Whether that was 8.7 million or not, I imagine it took a while.
I imagine Adam with the same weary sigh of my 21st century single friends, seeing a komodo dragon, naming it, waving his hand to the left, “Next…” then an otter, “Aw...otter! Next.” His hand waves left, his eyes scanning for something less furry, scaley, slimey ect.
Verse 20 ends with the summation that Adam didn’t stumble upon the mirror reflection of his design, the companion to answer his loneliness. He had to swipe through 8.7 million “ish” species.
I think perhaps in my limited understanding of God’s provision in a companion for Adam, the creation of Eve happened immediately after God’s proclamation that it’s not good for Adam to be alone. But now, I think it probably took some time.
Strangely, it’s comforting to me that the first man may have had to wait. It makes the anticipation for God’s provision that much greater and the revelation and gratitude for God’s gifts that much sweeter.
I’ve heard way too many sermons about Adam’s initial glimpse of Eve, and the underlying sexual fulfillment that they could finally enjoy. But I think that cheapens what Adam’s soul experienced in light of Eve’s grand reveal. Fundamentally, this is cheap, because our loneliness isn’t answered by sex, not ever.
Loneliness is the soul’s longing for correspondence, satisfied through intimacy and understanding.
I’m taking liberties here, but Adam’s exclamation seems more like, “Finally!!! Someone who isn’t covered in scales or fur! Finally, someone I can talk to and bounce ideas off of! Finally, someone I can connect with emotionally, intellectually, and physically!! Finally, the correspondence to my gifts! A being to challenge, grow, and build a life together!”
Now remember, Adam’s elation was a long-developed anticipation. Eve was just showing up to this party.
I like the idea of the first meeting being that awkward first date encounter, “Are you Adam?” Extension of hand and Eve’s inner monologue, “Do we shake hands or hug? This is SO awkward!”
Adam nervously spouts off, recounting everything that has happened for as long as Eve hasn’t been there, and she listens, waiting for him to initiate some questions about her, rather than factual proclamations about his previous experiences in the garden.
Eventually, the nervousness begins to fade and familiarity settles in.
Please don’t hear me say that Eve was the perfect puzzle piece, “You complete me…” fulfillment. I believe, in the fullness of the Garden, the flourishing of intimate relationship between humankind enjoyed with God and each other, Adam and Eve may have enjoyed a completeness we haven’t known.
We try to remedy our problem of loneliness with sex, success, affirmation, relationships, etc. but our loneliness has a solution that starts only with deep intimacy with God. Then we are able to share the depth of companionship with another, not a perfect completeness, but what God often uses to grow us in Jesus until eternity with Jesus (sanctification).
At the end of the day, a fresh look at the first man and woman’s relationship comforts me that God knows my deepest needs (and desires) and he will be faithful to provide.
I doubt Adam could conjure up what that looked like. I doubt he had a list of all the necessary qualities (with the exception of perhaps two legs and mammal). I doubt he even knew, until he woke up from his nap, saw her, and then fully realized God’s provision.
So, to all my single friends out there, swiping away, this isn’t new. All my single friends, when you romanticize the past, remember, this isn’t the first time single people have bumbled through strange encounters and first meetings.
Consider this, it isn’t for naught. And by that I don’t mean you get a prize at the end of swiping through 8.7 million prospects.
What I can guarantee, is a God who loves you so much, knows and understands your deepest needs and longings better than yourself, and will be faithful to provide. That provision may not look like what you imagined, but the fundamental truth is, God meets our needs beyond our wildest
Cheers to swiping, waiting, anticipating, and being thankful for that promise we see demonstrated over and over again! It can be a zoo out there (get it, zoo…)!