On your birthday, have you ever gone the whole day without someone wishing you a happy birthday? I mean the WHOLE day? You wake up, drink your coffee, go to school or work, go to lunch, and go home without a single person acknowledging it’s your special day? Terrible, right? No phone call, no cards, no Facebook shout outs. You would feel like the most un-special person on earth! You may be tempted to keep the information quiet, hoping, wishing, pining away for someone to remember. “Don’t they KNOW it’s my birthday?!!” you may ask.
If that ever happened to me, I would dissolve into a puddle of tears by 10 a.m.
But this will never happen to me. Ever. I unashamedly start celebrating my birthday the first day of my birth month- and since my birthday falls on the last day of the month, that is 30 full days of me-ness. If I’m not sure that my friends are planning something, I plan my own parties (yes, parties plural) months in advance. I narrow down my wish list starting the day after Christmas. On the day of, I casually mention my Personal Day of Celebration to the grocery clerk, the bank teller, any clients I’m seeing that day, and you better believe to the students I’m teaching. My children have been trained to offer hand written poems and home-made creations with Yours Truly in mind. That day was created for me, and everyone around me is invited to celebrate! (It’s April 30th, fyi.)
Letting people into your life is a good thing. Many of our relationships only go skin deep. We see eachother as valuable and worthy of love, but we don’t often take the time and energy to appreciate one another, to celebrate one another, to really know one another.
Love has to have three elements: 1)to be seen, 2)to be known, and 3)to be unconditionally accepted. In this post, we will explore what it is to be known.
To be known is to be understood. Knowing means perceiving, seeking, finding, and joining. Knowing involves being exposed, unguarded, and vulnerable leading to intimate knowledge. Knowing is so deep and intimate, the ancient biblical scribes used the words, “to know” as a Hebrew idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. Knowing is not just understanding, it is also joining.
For example, a father of two boys has an easier time bonding with the oldest son because they have so much in common. They enjoy watching football, playing catch and all things traditionally “male.” But this isn’t true for him and the youngest son. The youngest son enjoys art, drama, and reading. He’s smaller, less physically coordinated, less athletic than his brother, and seems to get hurt easily. The youngest son feels inferior.
The father sees the differences between the two boys, and although has little natural interest in art, drama and reading, realizes that he must work harder to connect with his youngest son. The father could routinely ask questions to engage his youngest son, but won’t find meaningful connection until he joins with the son in his interests. The father decides to register the two of them for an eight week art class. The father begins to understand the boy’s unique talent for art, and even discovers his own genuine interest in the subject. The father enjoys their new connection and looks for other ways the two of them can connect. The father sought greater understanding of his youngest son, joined him in his interests and experiences, and communicated the message, “I love you and want to know you better.” The son in turn felt affirmed for his unique interests and abilities, more self-confident than before, and a deeper bond with his father. This is knowing.
Here is an example of what knowing looks like in marriage. My husband and I have been married for 18 years, and by this time, we’ve figured out the roles and domestic duties that work the best for us. One duty that has fallen to him is bill paying, budgeting and financial planning. Give me cooking, cleaning or picking up the dog bombs any day. Too many line items, numbers, or spread sheets and my brain feels like scrambled eggs. On occasion, however, my husband asks to look over the finances together. I’d rather stick a fork in my eye, but I do it with a smile, because I’ve learned the importance of this exercise. It’s not just important to our bottom line, it is important to our intimacy too. I get to share in something that Mr. Dashing cares about. I get to experience his concerns, share his burdens and ultimately know his heart. What are his frustrations? What are his hopes? What are his proud accomplishments? I get to know him and join him in the process. I could simply make regular deposits, spend the money allotted, and follow the budget like a robot, but I’d miss the opportunity to share the responsibilities and the successes. More importantly, I’d miss the opportunity to join in his journey.
Without this kind of knowing, we end up feeling like a person who goes through thier entire birthday without any acknowledgement or happy wishes. Without being truly known, we end up feeling like the most un-special person on earth. We feel like, “Doesn’t any body want to know the real me? Doesn’t anybody care?” We drfit further and further apart from the people we love until we barely recognize the them.
Knowing and being known starts with you. It starts with taking a risk and putting yourself out there. It starts with leaning in and asking the uncomfortable questions. It takes sacrificing “the ideal” for “the real.”
What activities in your life encourage the knowing that leads to loving? Are you in supportive groups or circles of friends that meet routinely? Do you schedule time with important people so you can know deeply and be deeply known? If so, share your experience here! Let us know what you’ve done that has helped you!