I’ve often heard people talk about struggling with being “known”. I was with a good friend visiting Bowling Green College a few months ago. We were there to support a friend with his first Ted Talk. I know, big deal, right? So, before the show started, we copped some food in one of the dining spaces. Now, can I just say how weird it was to be at an actual college? It’s been over 10 years since I’ve walked the campus of my own beloved undergrad alma mater, Miami University, and exactly ten years since I conquered the stage with my MBA from Baldwin Wallace College.
Being surrounded by all those college faces was, well, uncanny. But I did harbor some humor in knowing they probably thought I actually went there. Anyways, I digress…
In our process of grabbing a meal, we divided to conquer. My friend went one way and I went another, feeling suddenly drawn to a ban of Asian noodles, soy sauces & general’s chicken at one of the stands. But after collecting all my purchases, I realized with disappointment that my meal was sans anything green.
Hmmm. “I need a salad”, I decided and veered towards a section with leafy green selections. It was there that I met her. A young woman with blond hair and kind eyes. I asked her where the dressing was for the salad, and she admitted she had been looking for it also. We shared a chuckle until she pointed me in the right direction. I went on my way, but after checking out and looking for my friend who was already seated, I noticed she was eating right by the young blond with instructions to the salad dressing.
Hmmm. Ok, God. Interesting.
I sat and we dialogued with her, finding out that she was a Believer on staff with a Christian campus ministry. I was able to share how impactful the Christian ministries were at Miami and how much they served as a foundation of my own faith. Her eyes were a display of warm excitement and she bobbed her crown of gold strands up and down in agreement.
We eventually moved to the topic of writing and my friend and I (who’s book I recently published) talked about our books. The woman’s eyes beamed again and she admitted to always having wanted to write. I encouraged her based on my own experience that just because you work in one field (her degree was in science) that is totally different than writing, doesn’t mean you can’t write.
During this time, we dialogued about what drew us to God. She shared that it was the experience of finally being “known”. Before developing a relationship with the Father, she had never felt known. She had often worn a mask with others that kept them from really getting to know her. Can you relate?
I honestly cannot. I have never struggled with feeling “known”. I have usually had the luxury of being my full authentic self with whomever I’m around and whatever environment I’m in.
But what I have struggled with is being understood. Being empathized with.
I have had numerous experiences where I dive into some life occurrence with a close friend and I yearn for that intimate understanding of “Yes, Nicole. I get it. I get you.” But I am disappointed when their eyes are blank and devoid of the sympathy I so crave. I realize now I am looking for this empathy because I do what so many of us do.
[Tweet “I desire to receive in the way that I give.”]
I am what some people call an “empath”, though I will use the term intercessor. That means I can easily sense other people’s burdens and pain and feel it as if it were my own. So, what I am realizing as I mature, is that I look for this ability for others to empathize and sympathize to the extent that I do, but there are these times when they are simply unable. It is in those moments when God is showing me that my desire to always be understood by others, (no matter how much they love me) is unrealistic.
Whether you relate to the young woman in longing to be known, or you relate to me in desiring to always be understood, know that there is One who will always get you.
There is One who will always empathize and you don’t have to ever worry about Him misunderstanding your actions or being overlooked by His love.
I should also mention that in the midst of our conversation with the young campus counselor, her eyes exploded in shock at the knowledge that I was a full grown adult with books published and a publishing house. She, as I had suspected, thought I was a student.
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