Hey hey hey friends! It is with a refreshed heart and a full belly of warmth that I come back here to The Prototype to share another insight this month. This holiday season no doubt was laced with challenges and grief as we consider the loved ones we either lost directly or indirectly taken by the storm of the 2020 pandemic. And yet in the depths of these dark times, I have experienced these great bursts of light within my own quiet times and through hearing about your “silver lining” moments. For this my friends, I am incredibly thankful.
With a heart full of gratitude and hopeful anticipation, I invite you into a specific place in my thoughts – I’ve been thinking deeply about what it means to be known and what it really means to know God and His son, Jesus Christ. If you’ve grown up in church like me, you’ve been groomed to assume the position of “knowing” God. To take it a step further, if you’ve grown up in a black pentecostal church with a music director who was in tune with every hit gospel song of the 80s and 90s, and an insanely good choir, then you’ve belted out this line at least once or twice if not three times- “Do you know, do you know, Do you know the man?” – Stranger by Donald Lawrence, Tri City Singers
What does it mean to know? What does it mean to be known? As I pondered these questions, I went into the depths of my heart and examined my experience around arriving at knowledge within the context of my marriage. My marriage has been a bedrock of evolution for my growth. The experiences I’ve had over the past 9 years have been full of great joy and great pain. And yet no matter what season we are within, I continue to evolve into my true identity, this is the mysterious and glorious blessing of covenant relationship. Secondly, I looked up the definition of the word in the Oxford Dictionary, then I turned my sights to see how the author(s) of the bible define the word in both Hebrew and Greek. The following are insights I gleaned:
The desire to be known is a direct imprint from the Creator’s design and I’ve come to realize that what truly matters in life is that I am known by Him
Experience in all relationships and especially marriage has taught me that serious friction occurs at the intersection of need and unmet expectations. (New) Love has a unique way of fueling the heart to start down the road of hopeful exploration causing one to go forth in the journey of togetherness with joyful anticipation – to see what else is to come, and maybe, just maybe to have your heart fulfilled once and for all. While some of us have had incredibly fulfilling relationships and marriages, about all of us can say (in romantic and non-romantic relationships) that we evidently encounter the roadblock of recognizing that our loved one has limitations in his or her capability to close the gap between our need and desire. I believe that what is within this gap is the desire to be known, truly known, and loved regardless of what is known about us.
Now back to the definition of knowledge. Did you know that there are over 10 definitions of this word in the Oxford Dictionary? It makes sense! I’d like to underscore definitions 8, 9, 10 which are headlined and summed up as to recognize, to understand the difference, to experience. You can already tell that these definitions highlight depthness. You see, to know someone’s heart, to be known is beyond head knowledge, it is not simply the gathering of data or analytics. It is to recognize that person as the unique individual that they are and to experience the fullness of who they are.
Our hearts ache for this type of knowledge from others. This heartthrob shows up in every sphere of life and plays out in various ways within our soul, families, places of work, community, and society. If we are not careful to tend to this longing in some way, our hearts are compelled to park on a lot of deceit, disillusionment, despair, depression, and even resentment. I could expound upon this, but for the sake of brevity, I will save this postulation for another blog.
Psalm 139:1-6 says
God’s Perfect Knowledge of Man
For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You [a]comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have [b]hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it
I have experienced this intimate knowledge with the Lord that David is talking about friends. Times when my heart was so full of confusion, emotions, pain from unmet expectations, I sensed a deep peace in a moment with the Lord. A soft word whispered to me within my heart, a call from a friend who had no idea what I was encountering, a smile from a stranger, a “I love you” , and so much more has affirmed that my Creator knows every second of my heartbeat and what I need. On the note of a complete stranger-no lie, while on business travel, a security guard intently looked at me and said I love you while in a hotel lobby. And before you roll your eyes and say “ Oh come on! He was hitting on you!” I promise he was NOT, lol. I’ve been randomly hit on many times- and this- my friends, was not that. This was almost like an angel sent at that moment. What this guard did not know is that although I was perfectly dressed up in makeup with my business cards and pressed hair, and surrounded by so many colleagues, I was so heartbroken and alone on that trip. I needed to hear that when I was passing through the conference center. I needed to know that I was loved.
The greatest pursuit I will ever take is to know Jesus in the fullest sense
And so once I gained this deep experiential knowledge of being known by God, my faith cemented deep within my heart. I have come to fully believe that nothing can separate me from His love. I have also arrived at a different lot after encountering the intersection of need and unmet expectations within my marriage and other relationships and it is this place- he alone can know my needs and meet my needs. Should he use my husband to meet a need or another loved one, that is an extension of His love and His grace shown through them. And I believe this to be true the other way around, I am under no disillusion that I can meet my husband’s deepest needs and longings. Instead, I pray daily that his heart is filled with the intimate knowledge of Christ’s love and that he evolves into the man he was created to be which is a man fully loved and full of generosity.
I have had the beautiful experience of being in a relationship with people who have not only had different experiences than I but different paradigms. From this diversity, I’ve learned many things. One thing rings true, knowing about someone or something and deeply knowing that being is two different things leading to two different realities. When the Apostle Paul says in the letter to the Philippians that he desires to know Christ in every facet, he is talking about a deep soul-level understanding that is joined through experience. This type of knowledge leads to the transformation of one’s life.
10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
I can assuredly say I have NOT obtained all this either Paul! So I thank Paul, that great warrior of Christian faith, for his humility. And yet I also press on to know Jesus this way. Why? One may ask, why would you seek so hard to know Christ whom you cannot see? My answer to this is – because He has filled me with life and light in my darkest moments. I believe that the times my heart has been revived from what could have been its final beat of death is because of the love God made accessible to me through Emannuel.
My friends, what is your experience with intimate knowledge? Do you feel known by God, do you affirm to know Him? Why or why not? Would love to hear your thoughts. These questions go out to people of all beliefs whether people who have a religious faith or not, please drop a comment. I recognize God in everything and I seek to know Him more by understanding who you are. Until then, much love and have a wonderful new year.