Words of Affirmation: Being Known

We talk a lot on here about knowing others and allowing ourselves to be known. It’s something that’s demonstrated time and time again in Biblical relationships, it’s an integral part of relationship with our father in Heaven, and it matters so much in every day life.

To do this walk the best way possible, we need others to know us, to point out where we may need to make an adjustment, to cheer us on, to celebrate the highs, and to grieve the lows together.

To pour into the lives of others in a way that helps them the most, and to allow that to flow toward us in our own lives, being known is absolutely critical.

Again: It’s Biblical

Proverbs 27:17 tells us that as iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another. As someone who likes to keep private things, private, I’ve often struggled with putting into into play. But, the times where it has come into my life, it has always resulted in improvement, in deep conversations, in heart opening situations, and often, in a deeper faith.

This weekend I got to see it in action. My youth pastor’s wife has always been a strong influence in my life. In high school she and her husband pointed me to God continually as I continually went my own way (their patience should be rewarded some day; I sure hope it will be šŸ™‚ ).

But as I’ve grown and they’ve moved and we’ve moved, and conversations have become less frequent, they’re no less special.

Last night Catie called just to catch up. She shared encouragement that God had dropped into her life during a hard weekend, we shared joy over an exciting moment she experienced, and then we talked.

One thing she understands – and has always understood – is that my heart is not a still and content one. It is a restless one. I’m constantly looking forward, making dreams, and crafting plans. Often, those dreams and plans conflict with what God has in front of me right where I am.

Instead of calling this out directly (I’m not great at direct conflict either; I prefer to retreat), she said something during our call that was so meaningful – I’m not even sure she realizes how meaningful it was.

She said “Laura, I know God has placed you and John in Harrisburg for a reason.”

Because my heart would rather be in ten different places (even though WE LOVE where we are and have certainly not felt released by God to leave even when everything in the world has sometimes said that it would be the best decision for us – we both work in DC after all), she simply shared a truth that God had placed in her heart.

That truth was affirming something that God has been telling me for a long time (and I’ve been ignoring at times), that right now, our family is exactly where we are meant to be right now.

We are called to bloom where he has planted us (we have this plastered around our house as a reminder). I’m supposed to put that restlessness somewhere else right now. God may use in the future, but right now, we’re where we’re meant to be.

I’m not basing that fact on Catie’s words. God has been placing it on our hearts for some time, through sermons at church, quiet time with him, time in his word, and discussions we’ve had here at home.

But somehow, hearing it from someone else, someone else who knows me and my heart, and someone who has sometimes experienced the same, made it the phrase of affirmation that my heart desperately needed to keep going, even during a time where on my own I feel awfully weary, tired, and exhausted.

It’s not the first time in the last few weeks that this has happened. As we’ve struggled with our kids, with COVID, and honestly just feeling at the end of our rope, others from our neighborhood and our church have poured into us, helping us find strength to (in the words of Elisabeth Elliot: Do the Next Thing). This community of ours has become a network of love that we would struggle to put one foot in front of the other without… I hope we are the same to them sometimes too.

It Starts With Being Known

The hard truth in this whole situation, though, is that if we aren’t willing to be transparent and to put ourselves out there, than others CANNOT share insights like this in a way that can truly build us up.

We must be willing to live our lives in the open.

We must be willing to take chances… building bigger tables and bridges more than retreating to our own spaces of comfort.

We’ve got to risk the hard in order to allow others to speak truth (sometimes hard truth) into our lives.

We aren’t meant to do this journey alone – thank God for this! And yet, we often resort back to this “I can make it on my own” mindset.

It’s time to break that cycle. We can do this in many ways… but first, we must learn to look up. When our days are busy and things are hard (or chaotic), finding time for quiet can feel impossible, and yet, it’s CRITICAL if we are to move forward in a way that leads to deep connection while on mission for eternity.

And then, we have to look out. We have to find our people – or re-find them if it’s been awhile – we need to learn to listen, and to share… deep friendships that allow for truth speaking require time, work, efforts, and transparency.

Obviously – that’s a cliff notes version. I’m not here to write the guidebook on being known (though, I’d argue that scripture is pretty comprehensive in that area as far as examples are concerned! šŸ™‚ ).

I will, however, say – and close – with this: it’s worth it.

When you need a view that’s different from your own, when you need encouragement to keep going, or you simply need to break out of the “day-to-day” living cycle that can feel so hard (and – to give these gifts to others), the effort is worth it.

If you feel stuck – look around (maybe look back), and reach out. Deep connections tomorrow start with baby steps today.

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