Thursday, November 06, 2008

Knowing and Being Known

It's been a long time since I've posted anything substantial, dear readers. I'm dreadfully sorry. Life has been busy. Anyway, I'm going to stop making excuses.

Several weeks ago, I went to Illinois to preach at a church near my home church, and to spend some time with my sisters, their significant others, and Howard and Sunscreen. I also decided that I needed to go and tell Ma that J and I got engaged. After worship on Sunday morning, I headed over to the Supermax to see her.

When I got there, I walked in the front door, through the door to walk down the hall to her unit, and then input the code to be able to swing open the gate to get into the dementia unit where Ma lives. I walked around the corner and looked around at the people sitting at the tables where they eat. I saw Ma sitting at a table with another woman, and as I got closer, she looked up, smiled, and said, "Hi, Trisha!" I was SO thankful that she knew me. She's been slipping a bit more lately, so it was nice to have her "with it" enough to know who I was.

I sat down at the table with Ma and the woman with whom she was sitting. Ma's tablemate would mumble something every so often, and repeat the same words over and over, and I couldn't really understand her, so I just shook my head and said, "okay" a couple of times. I turned my attention to Ma and asked her how she was doing. Ma can't speak in complete sentences anymore, and often uses words that don't belong. So, we can't have meaningful conversation, but she knows I love her, and I know that on some level, she is still able to love me.

After Ma quit talking for a minute I said, "Well Ma, I have something to tell you. I got engaged!"

It didn't register with her. At all. She piped up with new and different things to say. But she didn't acknowledge what I'd told her.

So, I just asked her some more questions and let her tell me the things she was saying, all the while feeling a bit bummed that she couldn't share with me in my joy of being in love and planning a wedding. But, I figured she wouldn't get it. I'd just hoped a little bit that she would have some spark of excitement. But she didn't.

What I did have joy in though, was that she knew me. It's a hit and miss thing when I go see her, whether or not she will know who I am fully. And when our visit was all said and done, and I said, "Goodbye. I love you," I walked to the gate, re-entered the code, walked down the hall through the door to the hallway, and input the code to get out of the Supermax. But, I left knowing that that day, she knew who I was.

As I reflected on the experience, I got to thinking about how NICE it is to be known, and how often we take this familiarity for granted. And I got to thinking about how we are known by God. As a Christian, I can say that I "know" God (in a certain sense; I can never FULLY know God. What I mean is that I know of God and the salvation God offers in Jesus Christ) and am fully known BY God. God doesn't forget me. I believe God knows me in my joy of becoming engaged, and as I grow in love toward J, and I believe God knows the pain I have in my heart because Ma is not well. God knows. God knows me well, as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:11. That God loves me and knows me is something I cling to in times of hardship, even though I may not always seem like it does much for me. It does.

To know and be known is a great and merciful thing. With faith that God never forgets who we are, may we live. Thanks be to God.

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