Relational Appreciation

Taking forever to get something you desire is no fun experience.

Finally obtaining what you desire is great of course, but the process getting there ends up becoming just as, if not more rewarding.

In Donald Miller’s Searching For God Knows What, the chapter Naked covers a topic I’ve mulled over ever since reading the 2004 book. But having picked it up again recently for a re-read, the topic took on a deeper meaning in light of this new blog.

To summarize, Miller tells the Adam and Eve story in Genesis with special attention paid to Adam’s initial loneliness in the garden before Eve, and the process just prior to Eve being created to solve this loneliness.

The observation Miller makes, Adam in a good garden created by God and in relationship with God but still with a feeling of being alone, was a paradigm shifter for me when I first read this.

But Miller takes it another step further by emphasizing how God’s initial reply to Adam’s loneliness is for Adam to go and name all the animals.

Miller captures something profound here. Because one can easily read this line quickly as we read past to get to the creation of Eve. Miller sits with this idea and teases out the profound realization embedded in human psychology, which is how much we are wired to be in relationship with God and others.

For God to reply to Adam’s loneliness with ‘go name all the animals,’ initially allowed Miller to play with this thought by contemplating the century or more of time it had to have taken to name all the animals.

Adam never finds a companion in all of that, not a companion he can cure his relational loneliness with at least, and so animal after animal, expedition after expedition must have chipped away his resolve regarding the hopeful conclusion to his issue of being alone.

The ultimate punchline Miller provides is when Eve arrives on the scene, the level of appreciation and gratitude Adam had to have amassed must have been off the charts.

As a further drive home point, Miller of course states the obvious massive issue we encounter now with instant access to see a woman or man online at anytime. Naked, nothing left to the imagination, and not even communicatively interpersonal. The amount of theory packed into Genesis in this profound realization about prolonged appreciation is something Miller notes the greatest psychologists only wish they could have packed into their own theories attempting to explain the human condition.

But here I want to make note of something new to myself in this reread I realized from this hyper in depth focus on Adam finding resolve to his loneliness through the form of a century or more build up in appreciation for who eventually becomes Eve.

The process of naming the animals took a lot of time. And you don’t get the impression Adam’s attention gets to wander off in the process.

Miller does a good job of connecting the idea of 19th century naturalist John Muir developing his theory how glaciers carved the rocks in the Yosemite valley. Muir had to wander the landscape, test his theory, gather evidence, conduct research and experiments, working and developing and re-working the hypothesis he was testing.

Indeed, countless examples now come to mind of people doggedly in focused pursuit of finding resolve to something they are enamored with.

Which is why as I read this thinking of Muir and Adam, I began to see another massively important element in Adam’s naturally created pre-fallen state.

Not only did he need an ambition still (was lonely and needed to do something about it), not only was he wired for relationship (with God and the missing other), but Adam also had a patience and focus about him to wander the garden and take inventory of creation.

If this is the case, then I’ll add to what Miller was getting at about our intrinsic wiring, which is, we are creations wired for deeply focused pursuit.

We have something, maybe just a couple things, we will gladly get lost in and pursue day in and day out regardless of time or notifications.

We are not created to swipe right or left instantaneously and repetitively, or to find any image and reduce the value of the wonderful companionship found in relationship with another created image of God. We weren’t created to pull down and refresh over and over to have other people tell us something not on our minds.

We weren’t created to get distracted without a noble cause.

We were created with pursuit on our hearts after something, and, to have the appreciation grow in the midst of such pursuit.

We have the intrinsic wiring to focus our attention on something in view of the relationships we have, or don’t have yet. For Adam, because of his incredible bond with God, he just went about his task to name all the animals and garnered a distraction-less pursuit after something he desired. And for his yet to form relationship with Eve, he cultivated an appreciation rooted in patience as he meticulously went through creation and searched.

Published by David Mieksztyn

I am a writer passing along what I've learned.

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1 Comment

  1. Go back and read the story in Genesis. There are two points to argue: God decided it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone and that God made the animals and brought them to Adam. In these two points, Miller and yourself have no basis to argue your conclusions from this passage.


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