On Being Fully Known and Truly Loved
By: Anne Dahlhauser
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15
In the movie, Anne of Avonlea, Anne is visiting Mrs. Harris, an elderly woman who lives in a darkened house with half-closed eyes. Anne, filled entirely with inspiration and positivity, takes it upon herself to tidy up a bit and then does the unthinkable - she grabs the heavy, dusty curtains covering the grand windows and thrusts them back. In a moment, the room is ablaze with cheery light (and Mrs. Harris is consequently put at risk of a heachache, or so she says.)
Marriage is also the Great Revealer. It’s the hand the yanks back the tightly drawn curtains around your heart and leaves you open, vulnerable, and blinking in the bright light.
And, it puts you at risk of many, many headaches.
So, why subject yourself to the flood of soul-searching light? Why knowingly choose to share your life with someone that exposes your internal workings, past and present? After all, the daily tension of the marriage relationship causes us to recognize our personalities, our habits, and our past baggage - just to name a few areas.
Is it worth the exposure?
In his book “The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God,” Timothy Keller explains the value of this vulnerability. He writes, “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.”
Likewise, the verses in John mirror this concept for us. There we read about Jesus as our Good Shepherd; this divine identity of a shepherd is rooted in His knowing us, His sheep, and in us knowing Him. Further, the relationship between God the Father and God the Son is expressed in terms of knowing and being known. In these words, we are given a beautiful picture of intimacy, of reliance, and of trust in our relationship with God through Christ. This divine relationship is not based on what we do as his sheep, what we’ve earned, or how we maintain the right outer appearance; instead, it is rooted in us being fully known and truly loved by the Source of Love.
Marriage is a small and powerful example of that type of intimate relationship; in many ways, marriage is a window through which we can get a more clear picture of how a relationship with God can be. In marriage, we can be fully known and truly loved in such a way that we can be freed, humbled, and fortified, as Keller says. But, this type of intimacy requires light. It requires vulnerability, openness, and courageously choosing to trust another human being rather than retreat into darkness. It requires allowing ourselves to be known by our spouse and to daily journey towards deeper levels of trust through honesty and authenticity - or to do the opposite. Why? Because our souls crave this type of knowing and being known.
Today, may we choose the light. May our brave hearts throw back the curtains and welcome the flooding light of authenticity into our marriage and our relationship with God. It is the only way to be fully known. And, therefore, it’s the only way to be fully loved.
Anne Dahlhauser lives in rural Iowa on a quaint farm with her husband, five kids, and various animals. She holds an MA in Teaching Languages (TESOL and Spanish) and is a lover of words, culture, and communication. Most days you can find her teaching Spanish in her classroom, vacuuming up dog hair at home, or shuttling her kids between countless school activities - or trying to hide from it all with a good book in her tiny bedroom window seat.
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