to know and be known

Blogging is akin to stepping out from stage left and standing in front of an audience you can’t see because of the blinding lights in your eyes. You don’t know how many people are out there, and you’re paralyzed with fright. Writing should be conversational, people say, but writing is not always a conversation. Sometimes it is a mini-speech sent into the unknown, invisible world beyond the computer screen. It’s scary to know that anyone could read this. Anyone could.

But that doesn’t mean everyone will. Perhaps a few will skim these lines as I do for my friends’ blogs each day on Google Reader, looking for gems of wisdom, information, news, inspiration.

We have so many ways to connect with other people these days, but do we really know each other? Sometimes I wonder. Writing a blog post and sending it out into thin air feels risky in a way. Vulnerable. My breath catches in my throat a little as I think about it, and I wonder if I should just delete this paragraph, this post. Maybe I shouldn’t write at all, for fear of revealing too much of myself (even though this doesn’t tell you very much).

Yet even if I wrote reams every day, describing every thought I wanted to tell you, would you really know me? Would you know how I laugh, how I use chap stick every five minutes? Would you know my voice and my eating habits and my propensity to explain things starting at the end of the story and backing up to the beginning? Unless you’re one of the few people I spend hours with each week, you wouldn’t. You would have an image in your mind of who I am, but it wouldn’t be me.

The internet creates a false sense of intimacy in so many ways. Used well, it is an excellent tool. Used as a replacement for reality, it is anemic and sickly. We can connect online. We can exchange information, and even pour out our hearts to our friends in private Facebook messages or e-mails. But I’m convinced that real knowing, the best kind, only comes through face-to-face time. Humans are created for relationships. Not virtual relationships; not images or words; but real relationships with real people.

Those kinds of relationships are harder than these. I can blog, and you can comment, and I can write you back. We aren’t sharing lives or even coffee. But if I sit across the table from you, make eye contact, eat together, laugh together, cry together… Then, you know me. If you reject me, it hurts more because I know you are rejecting me, not just an image or set of words. It’s dangerous to know people.

From there, of course, there are many levels of knowing. There are friends, and there are best friends. There are family members and spouses.

And there is God. The one who, whether we know him or not, knows us better than we dare to imagine. I’m convinced of this. And I do know him, in ways I cannot describe with any adequacy in spoken or written words. I know his peace, I know his love. I know his grief when I am hurting. I know his laughter.

But despite the closeness I feel, a special nearness lately, I only know him a little while he knows me a lot. I see glimpses of him, but he sees me completely with a single glance – the ugliness of sin and the beauty of redemption. He sees me fallen and risen, kicking against him and finally at peace, transformed into the person he made me to become. He sees everything and doesn’t hold any of it against me. That is grace.

And that is the sort of knowing I want with the people around me. The kind of graceful closeness. The insightful truth and the unmerited favor. It’s God’s perfect recipe for relationships.

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One Response

  1. This is a wonderful post, one of your best! 🙂

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