Who Knows you?
I know Raj down at the petrol station, I know his face, I see him regularly, and he possibly knows me at the same level. If I was to see him at the Mall, without his uniform, I might wonder where I know him from.
Then there are those that I know by a bit more than just by name. These might be the people at work, school, club, even church. Acquaintances we recognise that have a common interest or a meeting point.
Others that I know are those close to me, family and friends. They know a lot more about me.
We all have people in our circles of influences. We influence them, and they us.
Who really knows you though?
The most common cry I hear from the human heart is loneliness. Alongside this comes a confession – ‘If you really knew me you wouldn’t love me’
Shame, self loathing and fear become self protective road barriers that maintain a false sense of control and security over your life, but reinforce loneliness – a longing to be known.
We long to be known because it’s in our DNA. We were never meant to live apart. Adam and Eve fully knew each other prior to choosing their own course to make life work.
What do these quotes tell you?
The greatest lie believed today is that one can know God without being known by someone else. Larry Crabb Soul Talk
The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
In confession the break-through to community takes place….If a Christian is in the fellowship of confession with a brother, he will never be alone again, anywhere. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
At whatever level of ‘being known’ we come to, there is a question of vulnerability. Do we dare to pull back the curtain surrounding ourselves to reveal the areas of failure or embarrassment.
As a fellow traveller, in roles such as Pastor/ Chaplain, one of the most beautiful gifts i have received is when people have discovered some sense of safety in me that has enabled them to ‘be known’. They pulled back the curtain and allowed me in.
Five thoughts around what is required for people to feel they can be known.
1. Listening. Make a conscious choice to listen and listen and listen. Listening is the bottom line for getting to know someone deeply.
2. Reserving Judgement until you know the full story. It is extremely easy to make quick judgement calls. People want to be known, but if you quickly make up your mind about them, they will not feel they have been listened too. So many times I have seen people make judgements on others. They have limited knowledge so they make assumptions, generally in error. The walls of isolation continue to be reinforced.
‘If you judge people, you have no time to love them.’ Mother Theresa
3. Practicing Privacy. People will share their heart when they feel confident that are you capable of securely holding it. They don’t want to know their story will be spread out to others.
4. Developing a Forgetter Computer. Some thing I have tried to develop is what others have dubbed ‘My Forgetter Computer’. When I hear stories I listen to the emotions behind the story and let the details off the story just pass over and then out of my mind. The story sometimes enters my heart, but only briefly. When I explain this process, people feel free to share more as they know that their story isn’t going to cripple me.
5. Being patient. The level of trust to be known takes time to be built. With each knew experience of being known, more is allowed to be revealed.
What else is required for people to feel they can be known?
Image: By ktylerconk Creative Commons Flickr
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