One of the beautiful aspects of human life involves the desire to be in relationship with another person or group of people. People who design their lives to think, to communicate, to work, and to experience life as a unit, reflect the inward desire of a much larger reality. We human beings have been created to demonstrate communication as a choir, games as a team, and love as a couple. In each of these, we reveal ourselves and in that revelation intertwined lives are impacted.
What happens though when we look inward?
Our desire to be known and to know others, sadly experiences the detrimental influences of selfishness, isolation, and a willingness to brag on my own accomplishments. In those moments, we obscure the beautiful desire of honest relationship with a lattice of behaviors which prevent each of us from what we desire. So we recoil. We hide behind weakly constructed identities. We attempt to define ourselves by ourselves, inwardly knowing the life we construct is simply lonely.
Behind our weak and fallible lattices which cut each of us off from the opportunity to be fully known there is only despair. Have you ever seen the face of someone in isolation? Have you ever noticed the motion of the inward looking soul that rocks back and forth, side to side? A man or woman cut off from being fully known has no opportunity to enjoy a relationship with another, therefore he or she desperately seeks comfort and many times that comfort is sought in non-relational things.
One person may communicate to the air with waving arms and fits of rage. She may seek acknowledgement of her existence by the exposure of her body on social media and the confirmation of that existence is measured in “likes,” “shares,” and “viral posts.” It is the man who labors long days in isolation behind a computer, measuring financial statistics with the hope a financial windfall will initiate entrance into position of status.
Exile is a terrible place to live because the environment reveals a person who lives outside of relationship with others. Exile demonstrates an impotence within the individual because if possible and because of the despair, he or she would work to alleviate their burden. The closure of a person's exile which leads to being known, requires a person with potency willing to travel into and transform both person and environment into an synergistic healthy way of life.
Miroslav Volf states, "Because the Christian God is not a lonely God, but rather a communion of three persons, faith leads human beings into the divine communion. Communion with this God is at once also communion with those others who have entrusted themselves in faith to the same God. Hence one and the same act of faith places a person into a new relationship both with God and with all others who stand in communion with God" (After Our Likeness: Church as the Image of the Trinity, 1998).
Our poorly constructed lattices of isolation and exile which prevent us from being known fall to pieces when a powerful person chooses to move beyond the barrier to make him or herself known. My Christian faith tells the world God has made himself known to mankind through his son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ uses his power not to isolate himself from people but uses his power to reveal the fullness of God and the result is many lonely and exiled people experience the joy of being known. They are known simply because God chooses to love and to acknowledge the existence of isolated people and transform their existence from despair to communion. We know God and he know us. Our communion with God is the experience of what healthy living truly looks like in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Volf states this communion or being known does not terminate in our vertical relationship but it extends horizontally to the men and women around us. Therefore, the man to my left, I invite him in to know about me and learn my life. The woman who worships besides you and yet neither of you have ever spoken; your shared communion with God will lead you to communion with each other. God's love that ushers in communion with himself provokes us towards transparency with each other.
Where do we go from here? Out there in our cities and communities, men, women, and children proceed through life in their own personal exiles aching to be known. They are wondering if anyone knows of their existence. Our communion with God reminds us that we were not created to exist as isolated beings but beings who are known to others. We create opportunities and spaces in which persons from all types of backgrounds, economics, and ethnicity discover the divine communion of God in the loving words and the loving deeds of others. Let us participate in renewing the lives of people and respond to the inward desire in all humanity, "I want to be known."