How do you get to know someone? I watch my 2-year-old daughter start playing with a random girl on a playground and marvel at how quickly they just play. No questions asked, you’re here, I’m here, let’s play. As kids get older, they want more info up front. What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? What grade are you in? These are the things we need to know.
It’s all pretty periphery, though, isn’t it? What we really want to know is are you fun? Will you be someone I can play with? Are you going to be cool with doing everything I tell you to do? Or, if I’m not a leader but a follower, Are you someone interesting and will make me laugh? And can I trust you? Can I trust you with my toys, my time, my energies? But we don’t ask those questions. Not as adults anyway. There are kids that ask those questions and, God bless them, they are awesome.
As we grow up, we have to know what kind of person this potential friend is. We may be hesitant and reserved at first, not sure if they are trustworthy or someone we can relate to and be honest and vulnerable with.
But how do you really know someone? What has to happen before you can say you know a person?
I’ve been married for 3 years, 3 months, and 24 days. It has, hands down, been the very best 1,210 days of my life. My husband is my love, my rock, my heart, my soulmate, my sun, moon, and stars. I could not have found a better man for me in the whole wide world (and I went the whole wide world – or at least it felt like it).
That does not mean, however, that it has been all bliss and bunnies. In fact, there were zero bunnies. Maybe a couple plush ones. Oh and those window decals for easter. But that aside, there have been some very difficult days. Anyone who knows us at all can tell you that. You know that things haven’t been ideal. There have been hard times. “Best of times, worst of times” comes to mind. And some nights we have cried ourselves to sleep and then cried again when we woke. There have been times we’ve had to deal with the very brokenness of this world that seeped into our day to day decisions. The consequences of sin slapped us in our faces and made us look at them, all of them, sometimes our own, sometimes others’, but always dark and deep.
We question and wonder. We wonder about other people. We try to understand and learn more about personality and the effects of sin on a person. We had many conversations during our dating and on throughout our marriage about the whys. Why do people do what they do? Why do *I* do what I do? What kind of person am I really? How self-aware am I? Am I really willing to look at myself and see the troubling spots to get to the bottom of my sinfulness and admit to it all? And how do I change? How do I mature and make better choices?
We question God at times. What are you doing? Why do You allow broken people to do such broken things? Have You forsaken us? What kind of God can You be? And can we trust You?
And just like Rob and I have truly known each other through dark times, giving each other the most clear and invasive viewpoint there is for another person, we have also come to learn that we see God most clearly in the dark times too. It is through hardship that you really get to know a person and see them at their worst. How does he respond to pressure? What kind of person is he when he is tired, hungry, frustrated? When things don’t go his way or when people and circumstances overwhelm him, what does he do? Where does he go?
Through hardship, we also see God. Of course God doesn’t get tired or overwhelmed, but when things look impossible to us, we get to see what God does. We see Him in His fullness, His power and might, to conquer the worst and turn the tide. We see how He responds to us, to situations, and more than that we see how He changes us and when we are humbly trusting Him, He changes our very souls. He teaches us about Himself and how very much He loves and cares for us in the midst of deep sorrows and confusions.
I think the problem with some people’s faith is that they see God in the good times, but not the bad. Or they think it’s a mistake or a temporary glitch in the system. Temporary, yes. But I believe I have seen God most clearly in the mess. I’ve seen Him work and fix things, making them beautiful in His time. I’ve seen Him take lives and make them whole again.
I’m certainly not wishing hardship on anyone. I’m certainly not hoping for difficult times ahead for us. But I do know that they WILL come anyway. And I do know that it is through these times that you learn what you are made of and who you really are. I do know that we also learn who God is and what can happen when His people fully trust Him and rely on Him to do all He is able. I do know that we will learn more of Him – oh to know You more – and we will grow up and be strengthened by His grace and through His work on our behalf. I do know that
And I do know that my husband would love it if I quoted from Tolkien or CS Lewis right now. He is a PCA teaching elder after all. But, alas, I don’t know either well enough to think of a fitting quote… instead, I’ll go back to my toddler.
It’s no mistake that Jesus tells us to love like a child does. My little girl loves other kids. There’s something so sweet and trusting about her and she has no concept of the dark side of the human beings on this planet. That’s another blog for another day, but I’ll say this much. She has reminded me time and again that sorrows do pass and that love is incredibly strong. She trusts people wholeheartedly, for now. One day she won’t any more, and while that’s a good thing for many reasons, it will be sad to watch. She will be let down, by me, by her dad, by people who love her and those she loves. It’s terrible, but inevitable. What is wholly NOT inevitable is her God letting her down. And I pray and I pray and I pray that she will learn this too. I am trusting her to Jesus, that Jesus loves her even more than I do, and that He will hold her in His arms through the darkest of days and the hardest of nights. I know He will. I know He will show up in her life, throughout her life, and as she trusts me now, she will learn that she can trust Him still. Oh for grace to trust Him more!