Spiritual Growth

Through Smudged Windows

My two-year-old daughter presses her open lips to the pane of glass then pulls back to yell, “Open! Open!” She matches her five little fingers up to the five little fingers on the other side. The faces of both toddler girls are confused as to why they can’t hold hands, share toys, or even go to the playground together. I look up at the woman’s face that’s staring at me from the other side of the glass. We, too, wonder why we can’t do the things that we want—that we should do, under other circumstances. I want to snuggle her newborn baby and hug her as she shares the woes of postpartum life. She wants to touch my growing belly and talk with me about plans for a baby shower. We want to sit next to each other on a park bench watching our daughters play together and dream of our baby boys doing the same one day.

Instead, a window keeps our two families apart, whose hearts long to be together. We shout encouragements through the double-paned glass and talk about what we will do one day when we can be within six feet of each other again. We talk about the parks we want to visit and plan the parties we want to throw. Our souls feel that there is something not right about this separateness, and we crave for the day that we are joined together again.

Until then, we have toddler tea parties and double dates via Zoom. I drop off coffee; she sends sweet notes. We celebrate Mother’s Day brunch three miles apart, but in our hearts, we know that we are together.

As I long for life to return to a new normal after this quarantine, my heart’s yearning shows me something that God wove into the fabric of all humanity—a need for togetherness. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone’” (Genesis 2:18). While this verse begins the story of God’s creation of Eve as Adam’s companion, it also speaks a truth about the way God created man and woman in his image to be in relationship. While we may not understand all the details of the Trinity, we do know that it shows how God himself is relational. As creatures made in his image, we also were created for relationships—not only with other humans but with God himself.

As creatures made in his image, we also were created for relationships—not only with other humans but with God himself.

Yet in the next chapter of the Bible, both of those relationships are broken. Adam and Eve now have strife between them which will be passed down to their children. And even worse, Adam and Eve are separated from the perfect relationship they had with God in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 2, there was togetherness. In Genesis 3, there is loneliness. The first man’s and woman’s hearts ached to be fully unified again, with one another and with God.

Our world still feels the effects of that first broken relationship, and loneliness is a major side effect of the current coronavirus quarantine. While social distancing may improve our physical health in the long run, it can take a toll on our relational health at present. Even full households can feel lonely as friends, extended family, and everyday strangers are kept at bay. This is all evidence of the truth God proclaimed in Genesis 2, that it is not good that man and woman should be alone.

Whether you are a single woman living by yourself in an apartment or a mom with a full house of children, you can feel loneliness in this season and in any season. Loneliness is a sign that something is not as it should be. Relationships have been broken, and we long for redemption. Even our broken earth shows that something is not right: “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23).

As this quarantine magnifies our longings to be together, we can remind ourselves that we groan all of humanity’s broken relationships, not just those during a crisis like this.

As this quarantine magnifies our longings to be together, we can remind ourselves that we groan all of humanity’s broken relationships, not just those during a crisis like this. The world’s brokenness can only be mended through the reconciliatory work of Jesus Christ through his life, death, and resurrection. “For in [Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).

Christ came as the new and better Adam, living a life of perfect harmony with those around him and with God the Father. Yet he took the punishment for humanity’s broken relationship with God on the cross, and he experienced separation from the Father for the first time as he drew his last breath. But he did not remain dead; he rose again to be reunited with the Father in Heaven and is acting as a mediator between broken humanity and God to this day.

The Gospel truth of Christ’s work of reconciliation is our hope for relationship with God and with one another. We can and should pursue unity with God and others because Christ has made togetherness possible. “Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). We have been reunited with God, and now we seek to reunite the broken relationships around us.

As I hope to hug my friend soon, my even greater desire is for Christ’s return, when we will be fully known and fully loved.

While we are apart, whether for a time as in this quarantine or for longer seasons, we can still choose to love and serve those around us. We live with hope knowing that one day we will be in perfect relationship not only with one another but with our God. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The toddler-smudged window I look through reminds me that now I can only see in a mirror dimly. As I hope to hug my friend soon, my even greater desire is for Christ’s return, when we will be fully known and fully loved. We will no longer be apart; we will be together for eternity.

This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series “Together, Apart.”

4 thoughts on “Through Smudged Windows”

  1. Pingback: Everything Outside
  2. “As I hope to hug my friend soon, my even greater desire is for Christ’s return, when we will be fully known and fully loved. We will no longer be apart; we will be together for eternity.” AMEN. So thankful for your words, Bethany. Absolutely beautiful writing. 💛

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