"You're a Stevens, aren't you?"
I don't hear it as often as I used to, but every once in a while I'll attend a wedding, memorial service or some sort of church related reunion, and someone will stop me. They'll see the Stevens in me and invariably the question will follow, "You're a Stevens, aren't you?"
I'm proud to say, "Yes!" Proud that this means they know my parents (and in many cases even my grandparents). But even more than that is the warm realization that I'm known. Known and accepted for who I am. No questions asked.
I recently attended a bridal shower for a dear family friend. What a joy it was to be among women who've known me for most of my life, who accept me for who I am, no questions asked. (Except for the inevitable question and follow-up exclamation: "So how old are your kids now??? I remember when you were that age!!!") We laughed and cried and remembered, and together we knew, together we were known.
It happened again last Sunday. I stopped between services to visit with a couple that I knew from childhood. They were passing through town for a wedding, and it was delightful to catch up. As we visited, another couple joined us. And then another . . . and another. We looked around and marveled. Many happened to be from out of town, visiting that day for one reason or another . . . and we all knew each other. Together we knew, together we were known.
|We were getting rather loopy by this point. We were also getting a number of stares.|
It's in moments like these that I catch a glimpse of heaven. I get a sense of what it will one day be like to be fully known, fully loved . . . to fully know and to fully love. What depths are in store for us!
As we wait for that day, we are given powerful reminders that the best is yet to come. But we are also given reminders that we have opportunities right here and now to seek to more fully know and be more fully known. To share our lives and hearts not only with old friends, but to open ourselves to new people and new experiences, too.
The other night I sat among a group of young women, Bibles on our laps. I've only recently met most of them, but as the evening wore on, it was evident that there was a growing desire to know, to be known. Stories were shared, hearts revealed, honesty welcomed, and the knowing grew. For it is in the sharing, in the honesty, in the openness that we know . . . that we are known.
I find that the biggest hurdle for me in knowing and being known is the belief that I need to have my act together first. Then I'll be ready. My house must be fully decorated a la Pinterest (and spotless, of course), my menu impressive, my hair arranged just so, my clothes stylish. Once I'm perfect, I'll be ready. Because surely that will put my guests at ease.
Several years ago I had a friend drop by unexpectedly. The house was crawling with children and toys, but I kicked aside the Thomas trains, tucked my wildly straying hair behind my ear, and invited her to come in. I was a bit embarrassed by the chaos, but she later said that that was one of the most freeing moments for her as a young mom. I was real. I had kids, and I had the mess that invariably went along with that. And because of that, we knew each other in a deeper, more real way from that day on.
It turned out to be a freeing moment for me, too -- a moment that I would do well to remember every now and then: I don't need to be perfect to be known, I just need to be willing to be known.
As we know one another and invite people into our space, we will notice our family growing. It might not be the family that asks, "You're a Stevens, aren't you?" But it will be an even greater, richer family. A family that beckons across the aisles, hooting and hollering, warm and welcoming. It will be anything but hushed and reverent, but it will represent a holiness, just the same.
And one day, it will be perfect. We will be with the perfectly known, perfectly knowing One, who has perfectly known and perfectly loved us all along.
What a day of rejoicing that will be.