Do you remember the dating days? When it’s fresh and new. You just can’t wait to learn all there is to know about this other person, especially all of those little details no one else knows. And you want them to learn all about you too, right? I mean, mostly. If we’re honest, we might be scared to let people see us as we truly are.
Maybe I’m just speaking for myself, but I like to kind of gradually drop in my issues after I think a person has already decided they like me. Kind of softens the blow. I mean, people rarely introduce themselves like this for the first time unless they are at a support group. “Hi, I’m Shannon and if I don’t get enough sleep, I’m a total crab.” “Hi, I’m Stuart. I snore.” Or, “Hi, I’m Shannon. I have a lot of emotions. I’m super-sensitive. I cry all the time” “Hi, I’m Stuart. I don’t think I have emotions. What is crying?” And I’m sure we could all list even greater faults than that. But, we’d never lead with those. No, we wait to disclose those until we have them on the hook.
We tend to focus on the positive in the beginning of relationships and I don’t necessarily think that’s all bad. But eventually, for a relationship to work, we have to go beyond the superficial and beyond the positive. We have to really get to know a person. We can’t hide anymore and we have to be vulnerable. Even with our faults.
Because, that’s what we really want, isn’t it? For someone to know us- all of us- and love us regardless? Maybe you’ve experienced an encounter with a friend or an acquaintance that goes something like this. They say something like, “Oh, I just love you. You so good at ____. I bet you never struggle with ____.” And we think, man. They must not know me very well. It becomes pretty obvious right then and there that our relationship with that person is still in the superficial stages. And their “love” seems artificial because it’s not based on the truth. But, we don’t rush to correct them because maybe they wouldn’t “just love” us if they knew the truth. Many times, in relationships, romantic or platonic, we’re afraid of “full disclosure” because people might turn around and run if they knew the real us. So, there’s always this tension between wanting people to know the real us and not wanting anyone to know the real us.
But not so with God. With God, we know that we cannot hide, even though we have probably tried. We know that He sees all of our beauty and all of our faults. He sees the ugliness of even our most concealed sin.
I love how Psalm 139 puts it:
“O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to the heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day,
For darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
Intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
(verse 23) Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting!”
When we read Psalm 139, we can’t doubt whether or not God really knows us. And then, Romans 5:8 tells us “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He died for us. To free us and forgive us from all of those faults and sins that we try so hard to hide. The ugliness of our most concealed sin? He sees it fully and yet loves us so much, He was willing to die to redeem us.
One of the songs I have been listening to on repeat these days is called “Known” by Tauren Wells. The chorus goes “I’m fully known and loved by You. You won’t let go no matter what I do. It’s not one or the other, it’s hard truth and ridiculous grace to be known, fully known and loved by You.”
It’s hard truth. We have to face the hard truths about ourselves. We have to look our sin in the face, call it what it is, and repent. Then, we get that ridiculous grace. We don’t deserve it but we are offered it anyway. We are fully known and yet fully loved by God.
So, how do we apply this to our relationships? Well, John 15: 12-13 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” How did He love us? Well, He looked at us closely and noticed the good, the bad, and the ugly. He pursed us and knows intimately. He didn’t excuse our sin, but chose to love us anyway. Then, He laid down His life for ours.
Whether it is in our marriages, our friendships, or in our parenting, if we want to love well, we have to love like He did. It’s hard truth and ridiculous grace. We take the time to get to know each other well. We get vulnerable and real. We are honest. We don’t make excuses for ourselves or for others. But we do offer ridiculous grace. We forgive. Over and over again. And we do this through His strength and by His example. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.”
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!