We were created for relationship. We were created to love and be loved. In our society today, it is very easy to get lost in the crowd. To live ignored and forgotten. Sometimes that is what we even have come to desire.
Perhaps this is why we enjoy the anonymity of technology and relationship behind a screen. It’s safe. Controlled. We can go incognito and just observe.
Despite the many claims of introversion from so many, we still have a strong inner desire to be seen and known in the flesh with real people. To touch. To be fully known. To have familiarity with others. There is importance to being seen and known.
Personally, I have gone through a strange season of being unknown this past year. For the first time since I moved away from my hometown, fifteen years ago, to attend college, I am in the land of being unknown. Where I once was very well-known within our community and constantly saw familiar people, places, and things; I now have been perpetually in a place of new, different, and strange.
Our family moved to a suburb just outside Nashville, Tennessee from Ohio in the summer of 2014. This past summer we ended up moving to another city in Tennessee that is an hour North, close to the Kentucky border. During this past year, I have been living a life mostly unseen and unknown.
The New Kid on the Block
It’s hard being the new kid in a new place. Most people already have their group of friends and tribe established. It’s not easy for most to insert themselves and be immediately accepted in a new community in a way that makes one truly known. It takes time and effort on both the part of the newcomer as well as for the community of people to which they have introduced themselves.
As the newcomer, this means putting yourself “out there.” Inviting people out to do things, spending time together, realizing people may decline your invitation. It’s scary. It means risking rejection.
For the new community, it means inviting them into your circle, putting in extra special effort to make them feel seen, understood, and loved. This means the schedule and company you usually keep may need adjustment to accommodate a newcomer into your circle. This could be inviting them specifically to events as well as one-on-one time to get to know them. It’s awkward at first to begin these relationships, but the reward is great for both the newcomer as well as the community.
The Freedom of Being Seen and Known
It’s not just the physicality of having people near that we crave, but having people who know us to “really know” our hearts. When your heart is known by someone it restores you to be unafraid. It encourages you to do brave things and emboldens you to become an adventurer.
Whether that means making a bold move of showing compassion to the Samaritan woman, or touching the leper depends on the opportunity before you. One thing is true in either case, you experience the freedom and courage to do these things despite fear.
When you are known you are free to love without suspicion. When you are known you look at people without hesitation and see them, despite differences between you. You see them without making a false verdict. You see people as Christ see’s them — with love in your eyes.
To be seen is a comfort. It creates familiarity. Recognizing your need to be seen is important. It is what compels us to take steps forward toward transparency. When we are fully seen and accepted wherever we are in our journey, we make healthier choices for ourselves and others around us.
We stop thinking so much before we act in love because we aren’t over-thinking whether or not love will be received. We stop trying to please others so much and begin realizing we live for an audience of one; God. When we are seen in our struggles we have the courage to continue. The courage to ask for help in a culture where independence is an over-valued idol.
Who is in Your Cheering Section?
I recently wrote about an experience in where I have been known and seen in an online community of women despite my physical loneliness in our new city. I was even afforded a trip to Austin, Texas to physically meet these women over Labor Day weekend.
people women friends sisters know me. They have listened to my heart. They have clearly seen me and the struggles our family has faced the past seven months (and beyond.) They have rallied, cried, prayed, cheered, praised, laughed, groaned with, embraced, and loved me well.
Despite them being from all over the world I have felt their presence with me as we navigate this new season. Being seen and known by this sisterhood has changed this different season of my life. Their love has sustained me, emboldened me, and even lifted my arms to praise when I felt I had no praise left.
There is nothing compared to being loved. To be seen. To be known. We were created for these relationships. Created to be seen and known by Papa-God. To see and know others around us so they may experience the love and grace of our Father.
Questions to Ask Yourself:
How are you seeing others in your influence?
Do you know them?
Are you allowing yourself to be seen and known?
How can you better invite the newcomer in your community?
We are called to love well. How well are you loving today?