I have had several deep and rich experiences begin with the asking of a simple question. A special journey with 10 amazing women began with this question. Other relationships have been strengthened and deepened by this question. A couple nights ago, a deep time, tearful (in a good way) time of fellowship with a couple friends included the asking of this question. The question?
“What do we need to know about you to love you well?”
It is a simple question, yet profoundly deep. It is an invitation that can either be received or rejected. Most of the time, the question is received well because deep at our core, we have a desire to know and be known. We just do not always know how to reach that deeper level of intimacy with one another.
For most of my life, I have kept people at arm’s length. Honestly, I did not even realize I was holding people at a distance. I was clueless about how to let people in to my heart. I kept up these protective walls to prevent getting hurt. The thing is, you can still get hurt at arms length. But when people are kept at a distance, the only real thing that is accomplished is you miss out on deep connections. You are trying to prevent the bad from happening, but that still happens. Meanwhile, you are preventing good from happening.
I had one friend that managed to get past my outstretched arm in high school, but it wasn’t until college, that a few people began to scale the walls of my heart. I did not make it easy for them, but once a few people had gotten closer to my heart, I realized I had been missing out.
God has hard-wired us all to need deep connections with people, but the enemy of our souls works diligently to get us to hold on to past hurts in order to prevent us from future relationships. Call it “commitment issues” or “being strong,” but either way you look at it, there is a barrier that prevents intimacy. Usually that barrier is made up of bricks that were formed in the past called: hurtful words, abandonment, abuse, neglect, betrayal, and/or giving your heart away prematurely. The mortar that holds the wall together is fear.
Knowing that these walls exist is half of the battle. The other half of the battle is the work of God. He says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
God offers an even exchange: a hard heart for a soft one. God does this work in our hearts as we participate with him by being intentional about pursuing healthy relationships with one another.
Intentionality. That is where the rubber meets the road. As I sat with my dear friends a couple nights ago, I knew they were in need of some love and encouragement, but I did not know what I could do about it. Thankfully, they were willing and able to articulate their need. Some times we cannot articulate our needs, or we just do not want to. We don’t want to have to tell people what we need or how to love us well; we just want them to know.
Husbands seem to receive the brunt of this line of thinking more often than not. If only we could trust that our husbands’ heart. If I really believe my husband wants to love me well, why would I want to make that difficult for him if I had the power to make it easier.
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act” (Proverbs 3:27).
The “good” we can offer to others is in letting them know how they can love us well. Also, we offer “good” to one another by offering to love others well.
I don’t know whether its busyness or distraction that prevents us from experiencing deep fellowship. I suppose it’s a combination of both. It is easy to be caught up in our own little world. Unless we are intentional about pursuing others, we will stay distracted with our stuff.
I challenge you (and me) to ask someone TODAY, “What do I need to know about you to love you well?” Take the time to listen carefully. You may be surprised at what you learn. At the very least, you will gain knowledge about how you can better love that person. That knowledge will prove invaluable.
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).