My freshman year in college there was a guy. He was funny and flirtatious. I’d never had a guy pay attention to me – let alone invite me on walks and to tea shops for long chats. Just us two. Just our words and glances and inside jokes. I wasn’t sure what was.
And then one day, it wasn’t anymore. He stopped showing up, stopped calling. He told a friend of mine he wasn’t interested anymore. That there was something about my “communication style” he didn’t like.
As good friends are contractually bound to do, my girlfriends told me that it was just an excuse. That it didn’t mean anything. It was just one of those things people said when they’re too scared to say anything else.
I tried to agree with them. I tried to brush it off. But underneath, that all-too-common Human fear had been given a face. Given claws and fangs and murderous breath.
I had been known. And the knowing had made the knower want out.
It’s a fear not confined to any single type of relationship. We spend much too much of our time hiding, blocking, preening. We work desperately to be seen as successful, funny, put-together, happy. We dodge opportunities for true friendship in favor of skimming by on the surface.
Our true selves are like an injured limb. We writhe, limp, twist, and damage other areas simply to protect the weakness. We snap like a wolf when someone gets close. We cannot be truly known, because we cannot bear the possibility of rejection.
And then God shows up with grace. He spends centuries with the same people – the Israelites – lavishing His blessing on them while they just keep failing. Psalm 78 in the Message version says it all – “[God] knew what [Israel was] made of; he knew there wasn’t much to them…”
Did the knowing make the Knower want out?
The Knower stays. He blesses. He provides for them. He punishes in love and restores in grace. He assures us through their example that with Him our true, weak, failing, imperfect selves are safe with Him. That He will be there to carry us forward. He will not back out.
We will be known and still loved.
We will be heard and still listened to.
We will be seen through and still blessed.
We will be understood and still included.
It is grace for every question.
It is the answer to our fears.