The Forbidden Fruit

by Joanie Butman

Have there ever been moments in your life when you’ve thought, “Dang that Eve! Couldn’t she have found another snack? If it wasn’t for her act of defiance, we wouldn’t be in this mess. And couldn’t Adam have manned-up when she offered him a bite?” Seriously, as my son would say, “Grow a pair, Dude!” Then again, he’s not married yet.

While I was in London recently I had reason to think about the first couple’s scenario because I was reliving it. Prior to my departure, my husband jokingly gave me this admonition, “No eating at Nobu!” Nobu happens to be one of my favorite restaurants but it is also pricey. It’s the kind of place reserved for special occasions. Bob offered his directive in a ‘half-fun, whole earnest’ sort of way, as my grandmother used to say, meaning “It may sound like I’m kidding, but I couldn’t be more serious.” It is a tack used to take the sting out of whatever unpopular point you’re making. Similar to the current idiom "JK - Just Kidding."

Regardless, probably much like Eve, I put his warning in my databank and took off without giving it a second thought – until we arrived at the hotel and discovered Nobu was right next door. When my daughter and I set out to do some exploring, the first thing I did was have her take a photo of me in front of Nobu to send to Bob as a joke. That was my first mistake: NEVER choose to flirt with temptation. It’s a losing proposition. We went on our merry way and returned a few hours later tired and hungry. On the long walk home, all I could think about was dinner – at Nobu. Mistake number two: NEVER attempt to resist temptation on only a few hours of sleep and an empty stomach.

Predictably, I began the slow slide of justification, which picked up momentum quickly as my daughter tried in vain to talk me out of it.

Mom:   I’m starving. Let’s go to Nobu.

Hannah:   We can’t. Dad said not to.

Mom:   We have to eat somewhere.

Hannah:   But mom, he said no.

Mom:   We won’t eat much.

Hannah:   He’s not going to be happy.

Mom:   He was just kidding. HE ate at Nobu last month, why can’t we? Let’s just see if they have a table.

Hannah:   This is not a good idea.

Mom:   Don’t worry about Dad, he won’t be mad. What’s he going to do?

I could go on, but let’s just say once the idea took hold, I was determined. There was no stopping me, so perhaps I should cut Adam and Eve a little slack. I don’t know if they enjoyed that apple or if they even finished it, but Hannah and I savored every bite. And once we started, we were all in. My ‘we won’t eat much’ flew out the window along with any remnant of self-restraint. It was probably the best meal we had in London and, much to my surprise, no more expensive than the others – but that wasn’t the point was it? The saddest part is, I felt absolutely no remorse for defying my husband’s wishes or setting a bad example for my daughter by not respecting his request. Here was Bob, graciously sending the two of us on a whirlwind trip to London, setting us up in a beautiful hotel with the entire city to explore, and I couldn’t do this one thing for him? Pathetic, I know.

I think it’s safe to say humans haven’t evolved much since the fall. The scenario in the Garden of Eden plays out all day every day in the choices we make along with our roles in the story. Sometimes we’re the snake, sometimes we’re Eve and sometimes we’re Adam – the one that just goes along. But there’s one more character that we all try to be at one point or another whether we choose to admit it or not – God! Regardless of which part you choose on any given day, they all lead to the same end – a deep, dark fall into a miry pit with only one way out. That would be by Christ reaching down and lifting us out with His grace.

So how did Bob react when we emailed him from the hotel describing our feast? With grace, of course, as he usually does. That said, the bill hasn’t arrived yet to let him assess the damage we accumulated on the trip. There’s one thing I’m confident of though with Bob, as well as God – his generosity of spirit knows no bounds and, while he may be disappointed in my lack of self-control towards his wishes, he offers the same kind of loving embrace waiting for all of us from a Father who knows our weaknesses but loves us anyway. I have no idea why, but it’s a beautiful thing. I do know one thing for sure – it has nothing to do with who we are, but everything to do with who HE is.

After all these years, Bob knows me and suffers no delusions about my shortcomings, one of which is my lavish spending habits – not on clothes or jewelry but with respect to food and entertainment. Even while saying it, he knew exactly what I was going to do in London – even though Nobu wasn’t even on my radar at that point. So really, it’s partially his fault right? For planting the seed in my head? (Sick logic I know.) Was this a test? Did Bob know Nobu was just steps away from the hotel? Is that why he warned me? It doesn’t really matter. I failed miserably as I do frequently in resisting the smorgasbord of temptations the world offers. If we are all “sons of Adam and daughters of Eve”*, I truly am my mother’s daughter. I will never be hard on her again.

How do you choose to respond when someone disappoints you? Is grace your default like Bob’s? Mine is usually not, and I’m the supposed ‘mature’ Christian in the family. Go figure!

*C.S. Lewis, The Narnia Chronicles