“When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him- or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
Let’s start by clearing the air. I’m not married, I’m not dating. I’m single, very single. But this book is what’s up. And frankly, there’s some concepts in here that are nonnegotiables once you’re already married. I suggest taking a gander at this piece of art (the book) before you’re hitched, before you’re engaged, and why not even throw this one out there, before you’re dating. Tim so gracefully articulates the concept of true commitment, not infatuation or enhancement, but commitment in the same way that Jesus is committed to us through all of our faults and failures and mess-ups and even through us turning our back on Him time and time again. Can you imagine a commitment like that here on earth? If you’re already married, I hope you can imagine that. I hope you are experiencing that.
I’m so thankful to be reading this book right now – where I am in life. So many people my age are getting engaged, married, birthing children, and that’s wonderful. I am genuinely happy and excited for them. And because of this new love popping up all around me, it’s easy for me to sink into the mindset of “when is it my turn? why haven’t I gotten engaged yet? when will my wedding happen?” I know I’m probably the only 22 year old post-college lady out there thinking this, but I’m okay with that. But I’ve realized something, it’s not my turn. That’s a profound realization, I know. I’m deep like that. But it’s true! It’s not my turn, maybe because I’m not mature enough, maybe I’m not ready, maybe we haven’t met yet, maybe he’s not mature enough, maybe we aren’t ready for that kind of commitment, maybe I’m too selfish, maybe I have super-cool-single-girl things still to do, who knows. Whatever the reason is, I don’t really care. Because I know full and well that when the Lord wants that door to be opened, He’ll open it. And He’ll guide me.
To try and bring this full circle, let me pull back in part of the Timmy quote: “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God.”
To be loved but not known is very common today. People love your hair. They love your smile. They love your lifestyle. They love your apartment. They love your family. They love your dreams and ambitions. But do they love you? When the hair is stringy and gray and when the smile is saggy and toothless and when the lifestyle is not glamorous and when the apartment smells like old people and when the family has all passed and when the dreams and ambitions have been met and whisked into the past, do you know the person who had all those things? The point is, I want to love somebody, but I want to know them first. I want to be his friend. I want to know what makes him tick and what makes his blood boil and what causes him to lose sleep at night and what lights up his life and what puts the biggest smile on his face and in his heart. I want to know him. I want to love him. I want to know the man I love.
To be known and not loved is, indeed, my greatest fear. What if he sees me lose my temper? What if he sees how I react when I’ve been pushed too far? What if he sees that I don’t have a quiet time every day? What if he sees how I act when I’m nervous or shy? What if he realizes that I can’t reach my dreams? What if what if what if what? I could live in a constant state of fear about this if I let myself. I
know hope I’m not the only who has ended a relationship and immediately thought, “what if that was as good as it was going to get and I let it go?” Let me just tell you, you have to take that thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) as soon as it pops in your mind, because if the Lord wanted that relationship to end, it was going to end sooner or *later.
To be known and loved is like being known and loved by God. YAAAAS PLEASE. I’m a walking testimony of the way the Lord has pursued and chased and sought me out when I didn’t want to be pursued or chased or sought out. And He did that because He knows me and loves me. For a man to do that here on earth, to at least attempt to reflect the way Jesus loves me, would be an incredible thing. And that’s the thing I’m holding out for. Someone who knows me and loves me. Who knows me well enough to understand the things I don’t always understand about myself, but who loves me enough to call me out on my sin and my selfishness so that I too can reflect Jesus more clearly and love him (my future boo-thang) better.
Whoo, okay. That’s really all I have to say about all of that. Please go read that book, married or single. It really has shaped my thinking about the whole concept of love and commitment and marriage, and it’s been so good. I could read it ten times over and still get something new out of it each time. It’s deep and it’s heavy but it’s good.
*disclaimer…..maybe you shouldn’t have broken up with that person, maybe you were just being selfish or blind, but this is just a generic across the board statement because I don’t think I’m the only one who has encountered this fear before.