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In 1984, I worked as the Assistant High School Youth Director at Bel Air Presbyterian Church. It was home to Ronald Reagan, movie stars, and celebrities – pretty fun for a kid like me, but not so much for Eloise.
Eloise was our youth department secretary, not a great secretary, rather old, and not much to look at compared to the movie stars. People were polite to Eloise, but with their short attention spans, demands, and just the look in their eyes, they sent a message: “I’ve judged you and named you.”
One day she brought a scrapbook to work. I begged her to let me look. There she was on the cover of Vogue magazine and True Confessions in the 1940s and 50s. Eloise had roomed with Grace Kelley. She dated John F. Kennedy and dumped him—she told me that he was “boring.”
When people would stand at her desk, looking down on her and making demands, I’d walk up and say, “Hey, did you know Eloise was on the cover of Vogue, roomed with Grace Kelley, and not only dated John F. Kennedy, but dumped him?” All at once their entire demeanor would change, for their judgment had changed; Eloise’s name had changed—no longer “Youth Secretary” but “Cover Girl.”
How we see people changes how we treat people, and how we treat people changes people.
The judgments finally got to Eloise, and she lost her job. But before I left Los Angeles, I went to see her. She lived alone in a dark apartment, entirely paranoid, and afraid to go out or even answer the phone. She kept muttering, “What will people think?” Soon after, she died alone.
When I used to brag on Eloise, she’d get embarrassed and beg me to stop. I didn’t understand then, but I think I do now. Cover Girls are beautiful, but they don’t stay beautiful (at least not by Hollywood standards). Likewise, young men may be competent and powerful, but they don’t stay competent and powerful; they turn to dust. And so many times, our encouragements are discouragements, for we congratulate each other on our ability to accumulate dust and a can of ashes.
I’ve wondered what I could have said to Eloise that would have quenched her thirst and given her peace.
In Genesis 3:20, “The Adam,” says something utterly remarkable to “the woman,” and I think I could’ve said something like it to Eloise, for I think Jesus says something like it to each one of us.
In Genesis 1, God creates everything that’s anything with a Word, and on the Seventh Day he rests, for it is “finished” and everything is “very good,” including you.
In Genesis 2, Scripture begins to describe the creation of humanity and you, that happens and is happening on the Sixth Day.
In Genesis 3, at the suggestion of the Serpent, the Woman takes fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden in an attempt to make herself in the image of God, even though God has already said that he would make Adam—male and female—in his own image.
She takes “the Life” of “the Good” in flesh from the tree, and everything dies: Christ is crucified, the black plague sweeps through Europe, six million are exterminated in Nazi prison camps, and everyone you know and love suffers and turns to dust.
God finds her and the first Adam hiding in fig leaves, shame, and fear. He curses the Serpent, stating that there would be enmity between the seed of the serpent and the woman’s seed, but the seed of the woman would crush the Serpent’s head. He curses the ground and informs Adam (humanity), “You are dust and to dust you will return.”
Next verse (Genesis 3:20), “The man (ha adam) called his wife’s name Eve because she was the mother of all living.”
Instead of naming her “Mother of Death,” he names her “Mother of Life.”
He doesn’t name her according to what she’s done but according to God’s Word.
This isn’t simply the first Adam; this must be the “Eschatos Adam,” the Ultimate Man, Jesus.
“Adam… was a type (typos) of the one who was to come.” (Romans 5:14)
A “typos” is an imprint, a hollow space, waiting to be filled with substance.
When we believe the Serpent and attempt to create ourselves in the image of God, we make a false self—it is the spawn of the Devil; we usually call it an ego.
When we believe that we are the creation of God, and “It is finished,” it is the seed of the woman, who is the promised seed of God, filling us with himself; we become just who it is that we truly are.
So, who “I Am not” is like a womb for the formation and revelation of who “I Am.”
Old Adam is Eve, and Eve gives birth to the New Adam, which is who we truly are.
We are the Bride of Christ, giving birth to the Life of Christ in ourselves and this world.
So, you cannot make a name for yourself other than lies.
And yet, there is a name that has already made you and is revealing you in space and time.
The name is Jesus. It means “God is Salvation.”
There is enmity between your false self and your true self, for your false self believes that it is salvation, and your true self “knows” “God is Salvation.”
With every word, every gesture, and every glance we can feed the ego, the spawn of Satan.
Or we can proclaim the Gospel, and help people become who they truly are.
I could’ve walked up to Eloise’s desk while people judged her and said, “Hey, did you know, Eloise not only dated and dumped John F. Kennedy; she is betrothed to Jesus the Christ? And if we saw her as she truly is, we’d drop to the floor in holy terror before the eternal brilliance that we now call, ‘Eloise.’”
She would’ve still been embarrassed and asked me to stop. But if I had believed it about myself, perhaps I would have believed it about her, and she would’ve seen her reflection in the dilated pupils of my eyes and believed, just a little more, the Gospel.
We can’t name people, and yet we can.
A name that doesn’t stick on Jesus cannot stick on them—they are his Body and Bride.
You must no longer attempt to make a name for yourself.
You must receive the name that makes you himself.
If Eloise hasn’t yet believed, she will believe, for he will not leave her nor forsake her—even if she makes her bed in Sheol, even there he will hold her.
Even there he will hold you… until the end of time if need be.
But how much better to surrender to the eternal Word right now!
You are not the Mother of Death; you are the Mother of Life, the Mother of “The Son of Man.”