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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Greenberg

Building Sacred Spaces of Safety

As of last week, we started over the Torah reading cycle with the first six chapters of Genesis. In the beginning, we revisit the timeless story of how God created man and woman to be “besar echad,” which means one flesh.  Woman was taken “out of man,” quite literally built out of the piece of bone that guards his heart.  Man and woman were created to complete one another, to join together physically to produce children.  Neither man, nor woman, can do so without the other.  But together, they multiply their love to create a human life, in union with God.  We are creative beings, born to revere, follow and reveal God to the world.

But as a young person, I never understood why a woman would ever need a man in her life.  (That looks shocking in black and white!)  My parents had a dysfunctional relationship at best. They divorced after my youngest brother was born, and then my father passed away when I was 12. So, for most of my life, we were a single parent home. I grew up watching my Mom do everything she knew how to “raise us right.”  As a single mother, she worked long hours and was able to provide us a safe place to live. As the oldest child and her only daughter, I was her constant help and sounding board.

My mother told me a story from her early twenties that has stuck with me forever. She was challenged about why she didn’t originally want to have any children – much less get married.  Back in the 60’s, she told her boss, “In this crazy world, I wouldn’t bring a child into it.”  He said, “If you don’t like the people around you in this world, make some of your own that you do like!”  His reply changed her heart. That one sentence would be the genesis of me.

However, now that I have been happily married for nearly 30 years, I cannot imagine my life without Mark Greenberg!

Honestly, though, it took a while to get there. Thankfully, becoming a mother helped me learn to be a wife. The more I learned how to be a wife and mother, the more I recognized how wonderful it was that God gave men and women to each other. The more I took care of my precious little one, the more I realized how much I needed her father. I needed his help. I needed a break at the end of a day. I needed to fall more in love with him – and I did, by watching him fall in love with her. I needed to know he would be there for her when I couldn’t be. I needed his help to tell her about God! More importantly, I needed my daughter to SEE the things I never did: witnessing our marriage and relationship with each other GROW under God’s faithful care.

With Yeshua’s example of sacrificial love, I know Mark loves me.  With the Ruach’s example of helper, I do my best every day to be a blessing and help to him.  I have come to understand that the space between us, mentally, emotionally and physically is sacred to God.

What do I mean by that?

The same relationship that Adam and Eve had before the fall is possible when we each are in shameless unity with God’s Spirit.  I know that the same trick the enemy tries to pull between Mark and I, in the way we hear and respond to one another, is the same old story of the snake in the Garden trying to divide us.

Rebellion against God, disobedience, guilt, abandonment and blame shifting are all tactics that the accuser uses to get between married couples.  Mark and I have diligently labored together to keep our communication with one another IN ORDER.  What that means is that we make decisions together and when we disagree, we try to find a safe, uninterrupted space to dig down to the root of our issue.

Which brings me to this week’s reading of Noah and the Ark. God ordained a sacred space of safety for Noah and His family, in addition to all the creatures of the earth. But can you imagine being Noah’s wife?! What a crazy amount of trust she must have had in Noah to lead their family in the ways of God! Plus, since the two of them were besar echad, it wasn’t just Noah’s righteousness that pleased God. It was his wife’s righteousness too. They walked through the assignment that God gave them, together! There must have been disagreements, discussions, and dialogue throughout the years and years that it took to build the ark. There are some lessons that only time and experience can teach you. One of which is to building those sacred spaces.

I know that, as the woman, I can trust God to speak to Mark if I can’t move him to my side.  Likewise, Mark knows that if he makes a wrong decision for our family unilaterally, he has to face God alone if we end up with a difficult outcome.  Thank God for answered prayers, and also for those unanswered.  God truly does know what is best and He is trustworthy.

We make plenty of mistakes, but I will tell you about one we important truth in our marriage.  We don’t allow our hearts to lose faith in one another. Why? Because we know how long and how hard it is to get “back to the Garden” where we find God together, naked and UNASHAMED.

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