I’ve asked 2 good friends and loyal readers to share their favorite blog posts. Over the next few months, I will be sharing their thoughts and insights that they have shared with me regarding some of these posts. I hope that what they share will add some new insights to some of my previous posts.
[Wanda writes: This post is really special to me because I am a part of a small group referred to as the “Yadas.” Translated (from the Hebrew it means), “to know and be known.” This group formed approximately 10 years ago with just a few members. Some have remained since inception and others have joined along the way, but it is obvious that no one is there by chance. It is our safe haven – a place where you are free to laugh, free to cry, and free to share your innermost thoughts. We all need to have a place like that. A small group of fellow believers in Christ is a great start, but it can’t stop there. We are called to take the things we learn within these groups and make a difference in our neighborhoods and beyond. We are called to not just be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word.]
I am part of a small group of people from my church that meets a few times a month. Over the last few months, I was fascinated to hear people share their stories with me and with each other. There really were no hard ground rules of what to share or how to share it, so it was pretty cool to see what people felt were the most important aspects of their lives to share with everyone. When I grew up, this idea of sharing stories of what God was doing and had done was called sharing one’s testimony, but I think we need to call it what it is, a story of how God has met them and how their lives have intersected with him.
One of the predominant themes that I have seen over and over as have interacted and ministered to and with people is our need for community. People who were not raised within the church talk about seeing something different in the people around them. They appreciated many other things, but there seemed to be an overwhelming need for community, for being known.
At the base of who we all are, I think one of the things that we all crave at our core is the need to be known and to know others. Surficial and shallow relationships can easily be found. Heck, social media can be a successful way of allowing us to think that we know others and are known by others while never making eye contact or engaging in a face to face conversation. That’s not to say that social media is wrong, but it acts as a cheap substitute if we fail to realize that relationships need to be built at a much deeper level than this. If the only relationships that we have are with people who only exist to us on a computer screen, we will begin to see it change us.
The church where I serve has been really good about creating a support structure for its pastors. Each pastor is given a group of three people who will come alongside them to encourage, support, and coach them along. In the nearly seven years that I have been with this group of people, I am on my third iteration of this group.
When I first met with my current group, they let me talk and I wandered all around, in a verbal sense, until the end of our meeting. At that time, the two who were there began to tell me some of their observations. I sat there and was stunned but grateful as they both began to describe me and articulate their own understanding of who I was. There was a sense of accomplishment and arrival for me as they talked, knowing that I had well articulated who I was but even more grateful that they had listened, observed, and acknowledged that I was who I said that I was.
I have had a number of people who I have worked for in past years who did not understand me. With a few engineering degrees and one theology degree under my belt, I also have an artistic side that people are more often exposed to than the analytical side of me. Getting into my head could prove frustrating and confusing for some people who like order and structure. While there is that side of me, the creative side of me rebels against it at times and I come across as flighty and aloof. For these guys who have been called to support me to see that and hear my own acknowledgement of my weaknesses in our first meeting together was a gift for me. I went home expressing to my wife my gratitude for these men who were willing to take time to enter into my story and try to understand me better.
There are few things more frustrating to me than being misunderstood, but understanding and being understood takes time. It is an investment that sometimes doesn’t seem to be worth the effort that it takes. Yet, when we take the time to invest, to listen, and to observe, we can help a person know that they are being known and being understood. We can help others see how valuable they are and know that there is at least someone out there who understands them on a deeper level than just what’s on the surface.
I am grateful for the people that have been placed in my life who understand me, who “get” me. I am sure that it hasn’t always been an easy ride for them to get to this point, but how thankful I am that they took the time to do this. As I think about them, it helps me to extend grace and show patience in taking the time to know and understand others. It’s an investment that I am not always willing to make, but I am growing, I am learning. To know and be known has been such an important part of my own growth, progress, and transformation and my hope and prayer is that taking the time to do that for others can be as equally beneficial to them as it has been when others have done that for me.