As much as I like to think I like new and adventurous things, it doesn't take more than five minutes before my insides are twisting, my heart is racing and my mind is screaming for the comfortable places I know. More often than not I leave on a trip looking forward to the time it is over and I can be safe again in my own place. No matter how much I really do want to go on vacation, or serve others on a foreign mission trip, or just have a night out downtown with friends, there creeping in the back of my mind is the vision of holing up in my comfy abode surrounded by the people and things that make me feel safe.
This concept follows me to the new people category as well. There are set times in your growing up where having to meet new people is a given even if you grew up in the exact same place your whole life. The move from elementary to middle school, from middle school to high school and from high school to college are milestones for meeting new people. Then still, you experience this after you move away from everything you've ever known to a new state, a new job, a new marital status, a new home, and a new church, and the only familiar things you see is the clothes you packed in your suitcase. And even those aren't too familiar because you just bought them a couple months ago so you'd look cute on your honeymoon.
I have very vivid memories of the pains of those times, when the familiarity of my surroundings kept growing into a bigger and bigger pond with more fish to get to know (or hide from). There are some who relish those experiences, and think that life can only get better and be more fun the bigger the place and the more the people. I envy that mindset. There are others, like me for instance, that might have possibly quaked inside more than a little at the task of not just getting to know others, but of being known yourself. To tell the truth, it was never really the first half of that that bothered me. It was most definitely the second.
Inside of me, of us, is this desire to be known. For someone to see and know and understand you, and in the end not only love but want to. Whether that want is a romantic one, where you find the one whom your soul loves, or a friendly one where you see that bosom friend in the heart of another, or a casual one that is only there for a kind smile and word at your sons ballgame. That desire is present in all of us. There are two problems that can arise, however, and I share this with years traveled on the problematic paths! The first is the doubt and fear that keeps you from letting others truly know you. The second is giving other people the power to make you feel known, instead of placing that power in the hands of the only One in whom it should rest.
It sounds pretty common sense to say that you can never know someone, and they can never know you if you don't share all there is to share, but I'm here to tell you that you CAN NEVER attempt to truly know and be known by another human being unless you share what there is to share. I'm talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Giving others the polished and condensed version of myself might be thought of as more proper and socially acceptable, but that will never result in a true and honest relationship. Now, before you jump up and start spilling all your deepest darkest secrets to anyone who will listen, that isn't exactly what I mean. I am not meant to be close to every person who walks by me, and I am not meant to spread my pearls before swine, BUT I am meant to be a light and walk in the Spirit and follow His leading and be transparent when the opportunity comes up. From there, He will take those relationships to where they are supposed to go, because as amazing as it is to feel as if you are known and wanted by friends and family, that is just a glimpse of a relationship that is already present. I am KNOWN and have been my whole life.
To let anyone else fill my desire to be known is just the same as filling up a bucket with a hole in it (and all the other cliche metaphors that fit this situation). Giving anyone the job of something my Creator is supposed to do will only result in failure. Maybe not right away, but eventually it will happen. I say this from 30 years of seeking out the approval of others, and seeking my cup to be filled by my relationship with others. This is the very reason my list of identity verses started, and the very reason I now every (ish) Tuesday have made it a goal to share one of those verses, and why it is so desperately important to know who you are. Because Christ is in you. To paraphrase the most comforting words to fulfill this desire...
You have searched me Lord and you KNOW me. You know when I sit and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I even voice them. Before I can even tell you what I need to say you not only know what it will be but you understand my meaning behind it. For that void within me that needs to be known this is too wonderful to even think about. Not only can I not go anywhere you have created without feeling you with me, there was never a time, even before I entered the world, that you didn't not know exactly who I was and what I would be. Even when I struggle with frustration and hate, you know my heart and test me and point me towards your way. Psalm 139
Whether you are a current or recovering quaking in your boots club member with me, or love the adventure of sharing your everything, remember that all you desire is already done, and you are KNOWN and loved by the Creator of the universe. And the only thing left to do is to let Him use you to help others know Him.