In the depths of every human soul rests a deeply rooted need and longing to be known…..to be acknowledged, to be seen both physically and intimately, received as worthy despite our flaws, validated as lovable. The manifestation and satiation of this need may fall along a spectrum of extremities but it is there nonetheless. I see it in the way people chase after popularity and that “look at me!” celebrity status. I see it in the tears of a child who feels rejected by his peers. I watch it in the passive aggressive behavior of a hurting soul who cannot find the bravery to express the need with real words. I have also seen it manifest itself in grand displays of wealth or in the manipulating for power.
I feel the need rattle inside of me when I see others succeed, receive praise.
I feel its subtle whisper in my envy of others.
I sense it in a perceived rejection.
I watch it flutter off my gossiping tongue.
I see it written in my anger and frustration when my idealistic projections of what I think my life should be never materialize.
I find it attached to the heals of my personal fears.
I often find it embarrassing to watch people work soooooo hard to fulfill this need while living in complete unawareness, or denial, of it. They construct clever excuses around the why’s of what they are doing. They blame others, they justify their behavior, or they give in to a hopeless depressive despair over their hurt from a need gone unfulfilled. I find it even more humbling when I realize that I, too, have carried the torch of prideful denial around my own personal struggles. Oh how easy it is to spot this struggle in others yet fail to recognize it in my own life!
I read a quote somewhere recently that it is a foolish thing to fool others, but criminal to fool yourself. While it is not a crime to experience that need to be known, for I believe we were created with that longing along with all of our other basic needs, but where we go to fulfill that need and how we get there is what can cause us to step into foolish, criminal territory. The older I grow, the more I see how very true this is. When we are dishonest with ourselves about the root of our struggles we reveal ourselves to be the prime suspect in a crooked scheme to cover our tracks. Though we may attempt to point the finger somewhere else, we actually become our own villain in a woeful tale of deception.
So here is what I am learning about the path to wholeness: every struggle I wrestle with always brings me back to this place of needing to be known. My hurt reveals it. My words and actions reveal it. My thoughts reveal it. My insecurities reveal it. And the single most important action I can take when I am struggling with something is to crawl back to the starting place and do the work there. I call it the knowing-place. Heal the knowing-place and you alter the course of your actions, your relationships, your perceptions, your health, and your ability to experience joy.
I do not know what your knowing-place looks like, what stories it can tell, what wounds it wears, or even what actions it takes to guard and preserve itself. But I do believe that your knowing-place is just like mine: it was created by a God who knows it better than we do. He proclaims our knowing-place unconditionally and intimately loved and worthy because even before our birth we were seen, we were known, and we were loved. In other words, that need in us to be known has already been fulfilled, should we choose to cling to the truth of it. So whatever has affected your knowing-place in this earthly life to cause you to find yourself doing things and struggling with things you cannot seem to conquer, that place can be mended. And she is no fool who chooses to crawl her way back to the beginning and bravely begin the healing there.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.