I love my backyard. It was one of the major selling points when we purchased our home. Our house is perfectly situated at the end of a lovely court and rests on a large plot of land. What’s great about this, is that our plot buts up to sanctioned, runoff land that belongs to the neighboring water reclamation plant. Because of this, our backyard opens to an enormous field and acres of wooded land. The other appealing factor is that we don’t have many trees on our immediate property so, leaf removal in the Fall is minimal.
We do, however, have one very large, black walnut tree on the edge of our land.
One windy Spring day, our entire family was outside flying kites. My husband, Derrick was manning a large airplane kite for the boys while I was given the task of launching an enormous butterfly kite into the sky. I was up for the challenge of proving to our three small children that I could be as successful in kite-flying as their father. Competitiveness flows through my veins and I was not to be outdone in the game of setting this oversized, nylon-flying insect to flight.
I started running from one edge of our yard, firmly holding the kite’s string behind me. As I ran, a gust of wind circled around the base of the kite, thrusting it upward. I struggled to maintain its violent jerks, trying to have it gain enough altitude so it could gently settle into a steady wind.
She was magnificent.
In all of her purple and pink-winged glory, my butterfly was soaring…until she wasn’t.
Remember that large walnut tree?
I overestimated the free cloud space and let my beautiful kite fly too close to the tree’s canopy. She crashed into its leaves, flipping herself over one of its branches multiple times. It was almost as if she was trying to stay put, because with every jerk of her string, and strategic maneuver I applied on land, she hunkered down even more, knotting herself into a permanent fixture on the branch.
Years later, I can still see the remains of her tattered wings blowing in the breeze. Her color has faded, but she is still there. Now, she has likely become a part of the tree, having the neighboring branches entwine themselves around the remnants of her fabric frame.
Every time I see her, I’m reminded that soaring high with ideas and dreams is a good thing, but it cannot be done without caution. I parallel my butterfly’s tragic ending to the story of Eve. Yes, the same Eve that was the mother of mankind.
You see, after Adam and Eve willfully chose to disobey God and eat of the forbidden fruit, they were faced with immediate consequences.
In Genesis 3:16 we read of Eve’s penalty for her sin.
“He said to the woman: I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children with painful effort. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you.”CSB
The part that makes me think of my winged-friend is, “Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you.”
Let me give you a little background/scriptural context…
Before sin entered, the image of God was imparted to humanity (male and female) equally (Genesis 1:27). When a woman first came on the scene, it was because God saw that it “wasn’t good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18), so He decided to make “a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:20).
The word “helper” is translated from the Hebrew word, “‘ezer” and it does not imply a demeaning or lesser role. Woman was created to provide both material and spiritual assistance. And, “suitable for him” is “ke-negdo” which means “facing him” — which describes seeing one’s own image in a mirror.
Woman is intrinsically all that man is, yet in the feminine, meaning she is of equal worth. In fact, Eve was made from Adam’s rib, which is a symbol of neutrality (Genesis 2:21). She wasn’t created from his foot which would signify she was beneath him. And she wasn’t fashioned from his head, which would mean she was above him. When Adam said, “Bone from my bone and flesh from my flesh,” (Genesis 2:23) it illustrated we have spiritual equality while still called to carry out our respective, God-given roles. Men cannot exist without women, and women cannot exist without men.
I Corinthians 11:11-12 says,
“In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, and man is not independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman, and all things come from God.”CSB
However, because we are equally valued, we are equally judged by our faithfulness to fulfill those God-given roles.
So, how does my kite-flying relate to Eve’s story?
In the perfection of Eden, there was equality. Once the consequence for sin entered, God said to Eve, “Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you.” This did not mean she would desire him sexually, or physically…but rather, there would be a life-long rivalry between the sexes for dominance. Women will always struggle with stepping out of order, and trying to be in control.
I’ve seen it in our society.
I’ve seen it in others.
I’ve seen it in myself.
There have been times in my marriage, when I’ve felt like Derrick was holding too tightly to my kite string…keeping me from soaring. But there have been times when I’ve fought against the tugs; times when I’ve moved forward with a decision, removing my husband from the equation, thinking it was for the best. And, even worse, I’ve justified those decisions with thoughts of, He’s not a dreamer and he’ll just hold me back.
But, when I look up at that tattered, old butterfly, I am reminded that holding back on the kite string doesn’t mean you can’t fly…you just have to proceed with wisdom. Otherwise, those lofty dreams will get snarled and tangled in a tree…and then they’ll never fly again.
Today, my prayer is that the Holy Spirit would give me gentle pulls to bring my will into alignment with His. I ask that He remind me that my husband is a gift and he was given to me, so we could be image-bearers of God — together, as partners, and as one.
Father, I hope I get it right more than I get it wrong. I pray that I honor You with my choices. I pray that my dreams be Your dreams. I pray that I recognize safe steering, and not confuse it with being hindered from moving forward. Thank you for “tree kites” that remind me to fly in the center of Your will, because when I do, I will soar. I love You. Amen.