By Elisa Morgan
I ask yet another question and the answer comes lobbed back across the table from the lovely woman I’m lunching with. I’m enjoying getting to know her. She’s smart and charming and has an appealing depth. But I wonder, will she ever ask me something? Anything?
I want to be known. I always have. It’s a longing that arises from my toes and seeps up to my very eyeballs. I yearn for someone to “get me,” my ideas, my tears, my questions and even my jokes. That’s the very best kind of relationship, isn’t it? And then, after someone “gets me,” what I want next is that they’ll like the “me” they get.
Know what I mean? (Get it?)
Looking back, I can put my finger on a few such moments in life when I’ve felt truly known. A teenage slumber party confessional. Long conversations over cups of hot tea with a friend. An appreciative look across a family meal from my husband who saw the effort behind the everyday. Yes, there have been a few moments of being known, and accepted in the process.
Yet when I sit with myself and ponder such moments, I confess that I’m not satisfied. A yearning remains. Yes, some people have taken the time and energy to “get” me. But not all of me. They only get what I give them. There’s more that isn’t known. Because there’s more I could give but I don’t.
Why? Why don’t I take the risk to reveal so that my own need to be known can be better met?
Sometimes it’s a matter of pure safety. What would a friend do with the darker aspects of my personality? My kids who are now adults … well there’s a sane part of me that recognizes that they’re not here to meet my needs. I’m here for them. And while my dear husband sees and lives with more of me than anyone else, at times I still wonder just what he would think of me if he could see all the mess inside my soul.
In other times I admit that I’m not known by another because I don’t know myself. If I don’t understand my own emotions and needs, will I realize it when someone else recognizes them?
And in still other moments … I confess that I’m not known by another because I hold back the very part of me that I wish they knew. I’m afraid. I’m uncomfortable. I’m paranoid. I’m wounded. I’ve been disappointed and hurt. I’d rather avoid such an experience again.
Whatever my well-rehearsed reason, the fact is that when I hold myself back from being known by others, I hold back from myself the joy of being known. Because I don’t reveal the very part of me I want another to know, I’m not…known.
The responsibility is mine. And if you’re like me, it’s yours as well. Being known involves risk. If we want the fulfillment of genuine intimacy, the ingredient of vulnerability is required. That means revealing the charming and impressive aspects of ourselves along with those broken, unfinished and messy dimensions.
I’m helped by embracing the hope that there’s Someone who already knows all of me. In Psalm 139, I read words that help me loosen my hold on my heart.
“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.”
God gets me. He gets you. When we take a deep breath and risk, we can realize that we’ve already got what we’ve always wanted to get. God gets us. He loves us … and he actually likes us too! While this reality doesn’t erase the risk, it reduces it a bit.
And offers us the next drop of courage we need to risk seeing if there’s someone else who might get us too. The courage to offer up some information over the lunch table even though we may not have been asked …
Elisa Morgan's latest book is You Are Not Alone. She is the cohost of the podcast, God Hears Her. She is also the cohost of Discover the Word and contributor to Our Daily Bread. Her other books include When We Pray Like Jesus, The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, andShe Did What She Could. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, and @elisamorganauthor on Facebook and Instagram.