21 Mar Do You Know a Lot of People or Are You Known?
My friend said, “You know everyone.” I had heard that before while I was out with other friends, and it does feel that way sometimes. I have worked in the same community as a school counselor for over 25 years and been a member of several organizations for over 15 years. So, maybe I do know a lot of people. But, knowing a lot of people is different from being known.
Being known is about sharing your failings, your worries, and your needs. While I was around a lot of people and was involved, I didn’t feel comfortable being known. I felt comfortable sharing in others burdens but not in having them share mine.
“While I was around a lot of people and was involved, I didn’t feel comfortable being known.”
I kept my struggles to myself out of shame—if they only knew what I really thought and felt, they would not include me, identify with me, or respect me. My struggles made me unlovable in my mind. That thinking kept me isolated. I was afraid of being alone and in the process ended up lonely. My shame over my sins kept me from being fully engaged and authentic in biblical community. Shame kept me from sharing in community group or sharing my physical needs. I even struggled to be authentic with God. I wanted to hide my true self from God like Adam and Eve did in Genesis. In Genesis 3:10 Adam says to God, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself” (NASB).
“My shame over my sins kept me from being fully engaged and authentic in biblical community.”
Through a series of events in my life, I slowly had to rely on others and in the process, revealed my struggles and needs. As I realized I was able to rely on people for practical things, I came to realize that I could also rely on them for more abstract things—empathy, correction, unconditional love, and acceptance for the struggling, redeemed sinner that I was. I also allowed others to move me along in my relationship with Christ. I came to realize my struggles were like other believers.
When I was willing to be real with others in biblical community, I felt what it was like to be loved and accepted. It wasn’t always easy—most days it was tough because it went against my nature. It was sometimes scary when I wondered what people, particularly those I was sharing with for the first time, would think. But it was good to feel real and authentic and known.
“When I was willing to be real with others in biblical community, I felt what it was like to be loved and accepted.”
It reminds me of a passage from one of my favorite children’s books, The Velveteen Rabbit:
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” (Bianco)
Barbara is a high school counselor, unlikely CrossFit convert, and Clemson Tiger fan. She loves her therapy dog, Scooter, and niece and nephews (not necessarily in that order).