2017-01-04 - If You Knew
The phrase “if you knew, would you think differently of me?” can be applied in many different ways. A highly dramatic example was when my Mom was given a terminal diagnosis just ten months before she passed away. She first thought differently about herself, her family, and how her remaining time, whatever it might be, would be spent. In the movies, it’s very often portrayed as a time of high reflection, dramatic uses of one’s time and money to do things and go to places you once thought you’d have a “lifetime” to get around to completing. For most of us, there’s not usually a fun movie spin on such a predicament. We just make the best of it, and get through one moment at a time. Mom didn’t tell many people of what was going on with her, because she didn’t want to be seen as a “dying person”. A few truly cared, and some others did, in fact, see her that way - likely being afraid or curious. They sure missed a chance to get to know an amazing woman.
Some different, but maybe less dramatic versions of “if you knew, would you think differently of me?” are perhaps finding out a friend or loved one has a crippling fear you don’t understand (i.e. phobias and anxieties), a way they prefer to spend their free time that makes no sense to you (interests and hobbies), a belief they may have you cannot wrap your head around (religious, philosophical, political or ideological as examples), a place they have walked through on their life’s journey that you could never imagine having to go (experiences as a young person or adult: abuse, abandonment, military service issue, health challenge, personal dependency struggle, family loss & challenges or no family support, etc.).
So when we tell people we want to get to know them, is it really the truth? Very often, I believe, when I get to know someone I am unfortunately most interested in how being part of that relationship can benefit me, more than anything else. I would like to think that this thought process has slightly shifted, the longer I have been here on Earth to draw breath, yet some days, I’m pretty sure I am too much in my own head. There are a handful people in my life who I believe I am honestly just interested in them as their whole selves (and they reciprocate it), and nothing that would change, at any point about me or them, would alter that relationship. And not every relationship is supposed to really get “personal,” because there are, in my opinion, specific reasons we meet some people at specific places on our journeys. It can be common experiences, interests, life paths that bring us together for their or my benefit, or even mutual benefits. But when we do get the chance to know someone on a deeper level for any reason, we should see it as an honor. Some words that can be used to describe an honor are honesty, integrity, fairness, privilege, respect, courtesy and more.
In light of what it means to honor the opportunity to have someone let you into their heart and mind, then, we should consider it very carefully - more especially as followers of Christ. We are not just representing ourselves in relationships when we follow Him, and how we handle situations speaks for not only us, but for the Father. I was recently reminded of this, just after an incredibly unpleasant phone conversation with a relative - due to lots of things - but mainly a weary heart. Yes, we are human and things go awry, and we are forgiven upon repentance, yet as we told our kids growing up, it isn’t just saying “I’m sorry.” It is also about showing your truly repentant heart by way of altered actions. If your actions never change, then your heart isn’t truly repentant. And if it is, and you try with all the strength you’ve been given and do your best, well then there’s nothing more you can ask of yourself. We cannot change other people’s hearts. And should we really believe we want to know them better, but they not us? Well, perhaps that is not how we are to be spending our time. It’s part of the notion.
[ The Cost of Following Jesus ] As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” (Luke 9:57 NIV), and where we go is determined by Him from the following point forward.
I truly believe that there are some relationships that are for a lifetime, and each can start at different points in our journey. Yet, there are some we often expect to continue until the end are not necessarily ones that are anointed by Him. But whether they last a lifetime or not, there should be a lasting reminder of who drives our spiritual car. And maybe that one you thought was a chance for something deeper is with someone who is not in a spiritual place to do so. So we plant a seed, and we trust that they will have what they need and so will we, in His timing. Not every unpleasant ending is wrong, and not every pleasant experience is good. But our motive, in either case, should always be the same: It’s about the love of a Savior.
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” (Philippians 3:14-16 ESV)
All scripture references from King James Version (KJV) unless otherwise noted