We all want to be known, don’t we? Somewhere in between wanting to be known by one or by all, we desire connection. But do we actually believe in being known?
This mini-series is called Known.
I want to delve into the concepts of this theme, taking a succession of frames from single photoshoots to expand on it. So stick with me my friends. Hope you follow along, asking the hard question about “what is it to be known and freely known?”
You are not what you do, but who you are.
Some of you need to hear that. Gosh, I need to be reminded of that daily. Being known for the job you have, the paycheck that comes in, or the pretty luxuries that you indulge in doesn’t encompass your very identity. We see the lives lived out in the world and we want them for ourselves. Comparison is our obsession.But we only get a glimpse into the full spectrum. See, life is “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Conditional things won’t sustain us across a lifetime. Old jobs will be gone and new jobs will be found. Hardships and adversity will shape us. But being “known” surpasses the conditional. Seeking shelter in the belonging of oneself will carry human souls tenfold.
It may have been rough getting out of bed this morning. For the reason, that’s between you and God. When you step into the truth that you are founded in love, all else will start to make sense. All else, once significant, will fade like a mist, and God will show you what beauty remains.
Less noise, more quiet.
In being known by others, it’s first finding a sense of knowing yourself. You need to find your core before you look for your tribe.
For many years, I’d place myself in noisy coffee shops and college food halls. I thought it was in these places that I could discover who I was. I put my headphones in, opened my laptop, took out my Bible, journaled for a bit, and then did some homework. Sounds silly, but I thought this was effective. It could have been, to a degree. What I didn’t realize was that I had surrounded myself with too much stimuli. I may have mastered an art of inner peace. But I didn’t grasp the concept of the art of quiet.
What I’m getting at is that we’re shaped by our atmosphere—the places we step foot in, the interactions we make, the laws that are set into motion. Right under the surface of these conditions, our identity makes small compromises and adjustments.
Less noise, more quiet.
After years of noise, I found the art of quiet. It showed up and everything changed. Every sound, even the beautiful ones, began to distract the discovery process of figuring out who I was. Now I didn’t stop listening to music, no. Rather, I stopped stimulating an environment more than the sounds already provided. I got to just sit. I got to indulge in the birds chirping and the warm sunrise sun on my face. I got to see the moon peak over mountain shadow-crests. I got to take in tainted breaths of the ocean air as the waves crashed in amor below. No soundtrack queued in these phenomena. It was just as God created. Just as He meant for me to find myself in this big big world.
Isn’t it interesting that the people who truly love you don’t force you to be someone you’re not. They’re simply asking you to be who you are right now. They may want the best for you and speak hopeful life into the decisions you make. But they’re not demanding complete abandonment of self.
Social media is wild to me because we’ve come to believe that we actually “know” the people we follow. Well he just started a new workout routine and she moved to Malibu last week. But does that mean we know them? Does he have insecurity issues? And when did she last talk to her mom? When it comes down to it, we only have an outsider’s perspective. And when it comes to managing our own social media presence, we always filter out something from the public eye.
So in regards to being known, think about who’s closest to you. Pursue them constantly and ruthlessly, for they matter most. As for the rest of the world, they will keep telling you who are not.
A couple of months ago, I felt like God was telling me, “What do you want to be known for?” It was a deep question that I’m still contemplating to this day. In my unhealthy self, I’d say that I want to be known for the artistic brilliance that I carry—I’m a designer, a painter, a photography, a craftsman, etc. But in my healthy self and state of mind, I’d say for how I love.
See, when it comes down to it, I elevate myself by my impressive crafts. Being proud of the arts I do is one thing. But arrogance is next level. We may be fluctuating between our unhealthy and healthy self all the time. It’s just learning how to stand in the middle seeking the most laser-focused vision of who we are.
There’s a difference between living “a story” and living “our story.” A story can be literally anything for anyone. But our story? It’s personal, unique, and directly integrated into daily life. We become responsible for the set of choices we face.
Isn’t that the beauty of it all? We step foot into the chaos of life and own up to our decisions. We show up, get wrecked, and press in all the more. We mess up a ton. But then Jesus reminds us of the perfection He sees when He looks at us. He calls us to great things. He shapes our very heads and hearts and hands to become apt to change the world around us. To me, that’s the intimacy of being known.
You know the feeling when some people don’t need words to understand you? They know you so well that it could be the expression on your face, your unusual silence, or the truth in your eyes that communicate your heart. You’re so known by them. My mom and I have that bond maybe more than anyone else in my life. Some relationships take work, more and more digging, more and more insight into their soul. But there’s no hard work here.
In my state of youth, I long for this kind of intimacy and knownness with my future wife. I long to understand her and to be understood. I long for words to be an option and when needed to amplify our body language. But how wonderful is it that God has crafted us? He’s brought us into soul-soothing friendships that recognize our flaws and flatteries altogether. And we love each other on the other side of it all. Purely glorious. Who’s this close to you, dear friend?
It’s okay to feel. If you’re sense of belonging has been wounded in the past, know that it’s totally fine to step into the pain. Our culture tells us, “don’t cry.” I’ve heard it all my life from all the immense joy and the immense pain I’ve experienced. It’s a nice thought. But I think it’s narrow-minded empathy. I’m here to tell you to let it out. Let the tears run. Dry the tear ducts if you have to. They’ll reproduce in time.
My dear friend, feel everything. Laughter and sorrow, hope and regret, warmth and bitterness, anger and disappointment. Have you ever thought that God put those emotions in us for a reason? .
When my brother died in 2012, I felt everything. The emotions were not only there, but they were amplified. I could hear Jesus’ voice so clear in my soul. And I could hear death knocking on my door. At the end of the day, I knew Jesus was victorious. I knew the hope He brought me, the comfort, the strength, etc. But I also hurt. My voice quivered, my bones seemed to ache in the wretched sadness that clothed me.
Friend, you may have not known me then. And if you did, bless your heart—for sticking up as a loving brother or sister. But most of you didn’t know that Ben. How I carried myself, how I hugged people tightly, how I told anyone how I missed them. And how I wrote songs for Josiah, how I started a clothing brand, and how I visited his gravesite at the wee hours of the night—crying.
I tell you this because tears aren’t a weakness. It’s a strength. Jesus-sourced, Jesus-powered. And oh how sweet are tears when they clean the slate to new narratives.
My prayer for you is that today, you seek the freedom of being known. You may be restless, anxious in this very moment. Seeking this kind of freedom may feel nearly impossible. But as you read this, I hope that something within you starts to change. I hope that you hope. This hope is rooted in a loving God who cares for your good more than you know. Lean into freedom to be yourself—to be a work in progress. You’re doing a good job at being you, dearly beloved.
Let me leave you with this thought from a book I’m reading: “How can we not truly know ourselves without knowing God and not truly know God without knowing ourselves?”
Some days, you reach an emotional low. Today kind of felt like that. Nothing crazy, but rather just low. I’ve just been running around, hustling, doing the best I can to meet everyone’s needs. I’m glad there needs are met. I’m glad that I’m a Helper. What I need right now is some inward reflection, love, and self-attention. See, knowing myself comes with knowing when to check in. It’s taking a moment to make sure I’m not left in the dust, caught up with helping others, that I forgot that I need help myself too.
And I decided to have this conversation with myself. I decided to tell myself “You Are Enough.” I decided to hope on things unseen and a bright future that is to come. Today may be hard for and maybe even for you. But we are known aren’t we? We can love ourself, right? Hope this resonates in your soul as well.
Everyone will want your time. Not everyone will want your heart.
Man, does that cut deep. Most of my life, I thought spending time with me was love-currency. Quality time is one of my top love languages, after all. However, time spent isn’t always to seek someone’s heart. People, even friends and family (especially them), will want your giftings, your resources, and your services. Your heart? Not so much.
With that unfortunate truth, the goal is to find those who want the time it takes to know your heart. That’s the chosen few that will fight wars for you, cry with you, really listen to your heart and the beat that it makes. It’s reducing the apathetic relationships and regaining the undeniable, irreplaceable, irredeemable friendships in your life.
Be the best version of yourself. And that doesn’t mean only show the best parts of you. In my eyes, people who I’m most attractive to are those who don’t have it all together. But something about them is all there, flaws included. It’s in this realization of true self that they hold themselves with confident grace. They know they’re going to mess up and they know that people will be watching. Somewhere along their life, adversity shook them. They wrestled with deep questions. They wondered, “Why them?” But beauty was born. It’s in these places that pretty had it’s thorns and a rose bloomed. Full. Bright. See I use the analogy of a rose because we see them as romance icons. And yet they underwent pruning, just like any other flower that has to grow.