To Know and be Known
Saying goodbye is never easy. For a girl who loves her hometown and who married a boy from a town only 3 hours away, one would think that moving often would not be “in the cards”. But in my relatively short life I have moved. A lot.
Living in a variety of places has afforded us many opportunities. We have had the privilege of living minutes from the mountains and minutes from the ocean. A new town brings a fresh start, a new beginning. We are currently savoring the blessing of not only living within driving distance of most of our family but living in the same house as family (Side note: living with a brother and sister as adults has been a blast! But that is a different conversation).
What I cherish most about these experiences is the people we have met along the way. And this brings me to the real thought of the day: the pain of missing friends.
Saying goodbye to friends is nothing new. I’m sure everyone can relate to this. I remember as a child my first “goodbye” to my best friend, Mallory. I couldn’t have been older than 5 or 6, but I remember literally laying on the floor in the living room crying. I didn’t understand why she had to move to Ohio. I mean, who wants to leave Texas for Ohio anyway?
The first major goodbye that broke my heart was going to college. Granted, I chose a university that was 12 hours away from family when I could have chose one that was about 12 seconds (literally) from my house. There was something inside that new it was the right choice, that I was being called to a new adventure. But there was also something inside that was being ripped out as I broke from my family and started to learn to live on my own.
Fast forward through saying goodbye to college friends, moving back to Lubbock, getting married and saying goodbye to family again, on to Colorado, Florida, and back to the great state we live in today. I miss a lot of people, even people I haven’t spoken to in years! Why are goodbyes so hard? Why do they have to happen at all? I acknowledge these are futile questions: life is just hard sometimes. We are created to need each other, and when separation occurs it’s just…hard. It hurts. And that ache can last for months and even years.
It hurts because we are created to care for each other and also to need each other. We want to know and be known. This takes time. It takes energy and investment.
To know and be known. And that is the beauty of relationships. And that is also what makes saying goodbye so difficult.
I know that moving does not equal death. With technology the way it is there is really no room for complaining. We can be in touch in moments via call, text, FaceTime, Skype, social media, and not to mention a good, old fashion, hand written letter via snail mail. Yes, mail that requires an actual stamp. (Another side note: if you haven’t sent a hand written note to a friend in a while, do it. There is something special about receiving a physical note in the mail.)
Being known is about the deep matters of the heart. It is perceiving the deepest struggle and loving anyway, about seeing someone for who they really are, faults and all.
But it’s more than that. It’s the little things that you know only because you have invested time with someone. Knowing is knowing what your family puts in their oatmeal. It’s knowing how someone takes their coffee. It’s me eating a cheese quesadilla and my brother-in-law giving me a look of concern. No words were needed; he just knew I had a rough day because of what I was eating (cheese quesadillas: my comfort food). Knowing means being able to tell immediately when a friend answers your call that something is not right just because of the way they said, “Hello?” It’s making eye contact with someone in church because a particular song has meaning to one or both of you. It’s the glances that no one else gets or even notices.
Knowing and being known. And that is why saying goodbye is so hard.
Friends and family come and go. They always will; it’s just part of life. I somehow need to find a way to come to grips with this fact. But you know what I have discovered in midst of some pretty painful goodbyes? There is one who will be with us no matter how many times we move or watch others come and go from our lives. And that is God Himself.
With so many changes over the past eleven years, I’m grateful to say I have experienced this most important relationship in a new way, a deeper way. To be known by your Creator, my Creator, is an intimacy that cannot be described. It must be experienced. We serve a God who will never leave us or forsake us, one who’s Word is living and active, that judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. My first instinct when I have a rough day or even an awesome day is to call Stuart or a friend. Or I can’t wait to get home and share with my family. I have recently tried to go to God first. I’m learning that He wants to hear from us. He wants to know us. And He wants to be known by us. We were created to be in relationship with each other, yes. But more importantly, we were created to be in relationship with Him. Who better else to turn to than the Maker himself.
This concept of being close with God isn’t just something cool to think about. It’s real. But just like earthly relationships it takes time. It takes investment. It takes energy to know and be known.
One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Psalm 139. David provides just a glimpse of what it is to be known by our Creator. I know this is a little long, but take just a moment to read the first 16 verses of this passage:
You have searched me, Lord,
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.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
I am known by God. You are known by God. Let that sink in for a moment. The Creator of this universe, of every living thing, wants a relationship with you. If it’s been a while since you have talked with Him, stop now and share with Him.
To know and be known by loved ones is important. It’s special. We were made to love one another and be in community. But don’t stop there. The most important relationship in your life with the one who will never leave you is waiting for you to reach out. The absolute worst goodbye I could ever imagine is to meet God face to face and He not know who I am. I want to stand before Him on Judgment Day and have my Father say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” If we are in Christ we can have this confidence.
To know and be known by God. And I will leave you with that.