Longing to be Known

Longing to be Known

All of us, I imagine, long to be known – to be truly, deeply, intimately known, not known about, not known partially or superficially, but to be thoroughly known to the depths of our beings. I know I long to be known.

And, yet, I am afraid to be known. I am afraid to even know myself. If someone truly, deeply, intimately knew the deepest darkest me, would they not reject what they find in disgust? If I knew the deepest darkest me, would I not despise myself, be no longer able to live with myself, flee to annihilation? I run from love.

Human communication has five levels.

At the lowest and most basic level, we communicate with clichés. There is nothing wrong with clichés; in fact, they are necessary icebreakers; they are the way we begin communications. “How ya doing?” “What’s new?” “Nice day, huh?” Conversations usually begin with cliché communication.

One step higher is the reporting of facts. Just the facts. In times not far past, we risked nothing in reporting facts because, after all, facts are facts. No longer. Now, thanks to massive propaganda, “facts” have become whatever we want them to be. “Obama was born in Africa.” “Coronavirus is a myth.” “Voting by mail causes massive fraud.” Those are all blatantly false, yet are reported as “facts.” Who would have imagined we’d live in a world where “facts” are whatever someone wants them to be? Nevertheless, there are simply things that are objectively true. The sun rose at 0645 Easter Daylight Time today. The dog threw up in the den. Conversation normally moves from clichés to the reporting of facts. Can we at least learn to agree on facts?

I risk more of myself when I move up a level to the sharing of ideas and opinions. Doing so is risky because if I open myself up and share my opinions, you may reject them and in so doing reject me. If you tell me my idea is stupid, I’ll be quite reluctant to share ideas with you in the future. From talk show pundits to neighbors, here in the United States we seem to have lost the ability (or willingness) to be open to new ideas, to learn, reflect, and adjust our opinions. That is tragic because you probably have some very valid ideas. If I would but listen to you, I might learn something.  

Few of us dare to ascend to the level of sharing our true feelings. Even more so than my opinions, my feelings really are who I am. Feelings are neither right nor wrong – they simply are. There is no such thing as a wrong feeling. What we do with our feelings can be good or bad. It’s not wrong to feel angry; it is wrong to punch someone in the nose. Many of us are not in touch with our own feelings.  I was taught as small child that certain feelings are wrong. “Big boys don’t cry.” “People in their right minds do not get angry.” I learned well. If you are angry, you’re insane; if you cry, you’re not a man. Feelings, however, are quite stubborn. When we suppress them, they don’t do away. Instead, they become backaches, ulcers, and chronic depression. They come out sideways and undermine relationships. Learning to get in touch with our true feelings is one of the hardest, longest, and most rewarding pieces of work in which we can engage. Finding someone with whom we can openly share those feelings is almost a miracle.

Almost none of us ever experience peak communication. It cannot be manufactured. If it comes, it is a gift. Occasionally, very occasionally, there are those rare times in life when two people are so emotionally open and intimate, so free in sharing and respectfully, nonjudgmentally, receiving deep feelings, that they can actually feel what the other person is feeling. It’s not that they imagine they can feel it, nor that they project their own feelings onto the other, but instead, they truly feel the feeling of the intimate other. That is true empathy. Most of us go through our lives never experiencing it. 

Without all five levels of communication – cliché, facts, ideas, feelings, and empathy – we cannot be fully known, and being fully known is what we crave. We crave being known because we are created for relationship, connection, emotional intimacy. Seeking it out with another is well worth the intense effort.

So it is with God. Many prayers are clichés. Others give God a bunch of facts I feel certain God already knows. Still others are (wise that we are) us giving God our opinions on how best to run the universe.

God loves us. God wants us to share our hearts in prayer – to openly and honestly share our deepest feelings – our feelings of fear, doubt, despair, hope, and longing – not the “proper” religious feelings we were taught to feel. And when we do, we discover that God longs to share God’s divine heart with us. That’s what the book of Psalms is all about.

Savonarola said, “When prayer reaches its ultimate, words are impossible.” With much deep contemplative practice, we may receive the rare gift of peak communication with God. We may enter the Holiest of All, the secret place of the Most High, lean our heads against Messiah’s breast, and feel the heartthrob of Deity. 

To know God and to be known by God, to rest in intimate connection with the Creator, embraced in the arms of Abba Father, to love and be loved intimately – it is for this we were made; it is for this we were redeemed. 

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist Jesus Freak Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, husband, father, grandfather

Posted on August 9, 2020, in anabaptist, apologetics, Bible, Bible Teaching, Christianity, Jesus, Justice, Kingdom Life, kingdom of God, parables, Peace Shalom Hesed, Poetry, Spirituality. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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