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Today I Was Known

Today I was known. 

I was heard and I was understood.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “To be known is to be loved?” I have heard this sporadically throughout my life, but I didn’t know the context for it until just this week. I assumed it was from Shakespeare or another writer of old. It sounds very Romeo and Juliet, doesn’t it? The phrase that I’ve heard is not even the real quote! It’s a summary of something Timothy Keller wrote in his book The Meaning of Marriage

I have not read the book, so I’ll have to share context for that another day. But here is the actual quote from which the phrase comes: 

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.

After seven years of marriage, I can confidently say that being known has fortified me for the difficulties of life. My biggest fear in life is not heights, spiders, public speaking, or dying – it’s being misunderstood. Finding a partner who was willing to not just love me, but to learn me is probably the greatest blessing of my marriage. 

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were watching videos online and came across one of a woman whose husband passed away young. She listed out a handful of questions she wished she would have had his answers to before he died. Some were common, like Do you want to be buried or cremated? If cremated, where do you want your ashes spread? or What are the most important stories you want me to tell our kids about you? 

Then she asked, What is your greatest hope for me after you’re gone?

My husband’s answer told me I was known by him. He said, “I hope you feel understood. I hope you find someone who understands you.” 

Weeks later, I’m still thinking about his answer. It was quick – no hesitation! He just knew me, what my biggest fear is, and what I struggle with the most. Even as I write this now, it brings tears to my eyes. I feel heard. I feel understood. I feel known. 

To be known is to be loved. 

Another quote from Keller’s book says this,

Within this Christian vision of marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of what God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that.”

The commitment it takes to know someone – to really learn them – is much more than it takes to love. Love is a choice we can readily give to all people. Even if they’ve wronged us, we can see the image of God reflected in them and choose love. Even if they’re a terrible person, we can see where they have been wronged and the path that got them to be where they are. We can at least empathize with them, which is an expression of love. But to know someone, that takes work. It’s a commitment, especially as we grow and change, and there are new things to learn.

To be known is to be loved. 

Today I was known. I was loved. 

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