To be fully known. To be fully loved. To be fully accepted.
There it is. Life’s greatest gift.
To be exposed, vulnerable, laid bare, down to the rottenest of your core, to the filthiest of your being, to the deepest of your pain, to the dirtiest little detail of your worst thoughts and worst sin. You know, the ones that you always vowed you would take to the grave and never let see the light of day.
To be stripped naked in all your shame before another, as the woman caught in adultery lay in the dirt before Jesus and the Pharisees, waiting to be condemned.
To be fully seen and fully known.
And to experience, not the condemnation you feel you deserve, or the rejection that anyone in their right mind should freely give to a wretch like you, or even a pitying glance.
But to experience the warm embrace of complete acceptance. And to know that you are not only tolerated, but deeply loved and deeply cherished.
Oh friends, this. This is life’s greatest gift.
It is the greatest gift we can receive from God. It is the greatest gift we can receive from a loved one. It is the greatest gift we can give to another. And it is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves.
To sit with one in silence in the fullness of their pain, without trying to make them feel better or correct their view of God or the world.
To mourn with those who mourn.
To not try to explain away situations or circumstances, but to just let it be.
To trust God with another’s process and timing of healing, whatever it looks like and however long it takes, and to not take it upon yourself to fix it because it makes you uncomfortable.
To not add conditions or stipulations to complete acceptance.
To embrace someone for where they are in their own journey.
To give someone permission to stop hiding, to stop faking, to stop filtering, and to just be real. Even if it means they *gasp* say naughty words.
To not cast judgment for past choices made or current circumstances.
To assure someone that no matter what is shared, no matter what has been done, no matter what is in the present or the past, that none of it makes them too great a burden, too much to bear, or too beyond the point of hope.
To let someone know and tangibly experience that they are seen, they are heard, they are enough, they are valued, and they are cherished.
And the most amazing and beautiful and organic thing happens: they emerge, for all of who they are. And they grow. And they’re freed.
To know and be known deeply, to love and be loved without abandon, to accept and be accepted unconditionally. And to live freely out of the fullness of who you are.
This is life’s greatest gift.
Oh, but to experience the opposite. To be judged. To be fixed as though you’re some project. To see a disapproving glance. To be met with conditions and stipulations. To experience the lack of safety for bringing the fullness and authenticity of who you are in a given moment. And then you berate yourself. “See? I told you it wasn’t safe to be you! Just put a mask on and hide your true self, and hide all your struggles, and hide all your pain, and hide all your true thoughts, and just put on a smile, because it is far too much. I am far too much.”
Friends, this is life’s greatest tragedy: to keep the world from ever knowing your true self, and to live your life in captivity and hiding.
May you always remember how fully known, fully loved, and fully accepted you are. May you experience it tangibly in your life. May you do the same for another. And may you do the same for yourself.
May you be free.