“Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you.” Jeremiah 1:5
My god daughter is three years old, and absolutely loves getting presents. At a family gathering a couple of weeks ago she was presented, to her delight, with a big bag of Christmas presents from an auntie. She was told by one person that she could look in the bag, but without realising this someone else told her off for opening it herself. As she looked up at the multiple pairs of eyes now focused on her, I saw the sparkle disappear from her eyes and she cowered in towards my knees.
I knelt down to pick her up, and told her that it was OK – she hadn’t done anything wrong, and we’d open the presents together later. After lots of cuddles and an enticing promise of visiting the soft play area later in the afternoon, she was back to her usual bubbly self. It was adorable, but it was also painful to watch. She had been misunderstood, and it had hurt.
I realised that at times I could recognise the same little-girl spirit in myself. When I feel misunderstood, my natural reaction is to retreat, to shy away or grow quiet. I need the security of being known and understood in order to fully be myself.
We all want to be understood, and to feel like we’re truly known. Feeling known is how we feel that we’re wanted and valued. A split second of missing out on that security of being known can trigger an insecurity which lasts far longer. But human nature is fallible: we can’t possibly understand each other all the time. Every single one of us will have moments of insensitivity or self-centredness which make us oblivious to the needs of those around us. That means that if we rely on other people to provide that security, we’ll constantly risk being let down or wounded.
“It’s easy to touch up your outward appearance, to look as if you have it all together. Your attempts to look good can fool most people. But I see straight through you, into the depths of your being. There is no place for pretence in your relationship with Me. Rejoice in the relief of being fully understood. Talk with Me about your struggles and feelings of inadequacy. Little by little, I will transform your weaknesses into strengths.” Sarah Young, ‘Jesus Calling’ (Jan. 14th).
With God we have no reason to fear the insecurity of being isolated or misunderstood. We are known intimately and completely. We don’t have to put on an act or pretend everything is OK. He knows every inch of our hearts, and His love and understanding are constant and reliable. If our first focus is seeking God rather than chasing after people, then security in our identity and worth is guaranteed. We are known and understood: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:14).