I Want to Be a Ragamuffin

This is a re-post from a blog I wrote almost a year ago, on May 28, 2011. Sometimes you (as in me) just need to be reminded of good, solid Truth.

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Thoughts on Being Known

I used to perform a monologue with Beautiful Unique Girl based on the story of  the Woman at the Well. The monologue is all about being known and loved by God.

This woman, a Samaritan, goes to fetch some water from the well, where she encounters a Jew who asks her for a drink. She’s surprised, because Jews did not associate with Samaritans. A drink from her would be unclean. Not only that, but this Jew knows all about her – that’s she an adulterer, married 5 times, and presently living with a man that she’s not married to.

But this Jew is Jesus. Jesus knows her completely. And he loves her.

“You know me. You actually know me. All of me and everything about me.”

I absolutely adored performing this monologue because I know we can all relate to the desire to be known – that hope that people would look beyond our exterior, our past, or what they think they know about us, and really get to know us.

I loved to scan the girls in the audience and watch their faces as a piece of truth fell over them. Sometimes I would focus on one girl in particular and look into her eyes as I spoke key phrases from the monologue.

My teammates and I used to talk about this concept of being known. “To be known is to be loved, and to be loved is to be known.” We would express our desire to be known, often through joking. “If Matt Maher knew me he would love me!” (We developed a crush on musician Matt Maher after meeting him at a conference that we took part in). But all joking aside, there is a huge desire in us to be known and loved.

“I want someone to look at me and not just see two eyes, a nose, a mouth, and two ears, but to see all that I am and could be.”

I relate to this fully, but more and more I find myself asking, “Do I get to know people in the same way that I want to be known? Am I just expecting people to get to know me, or do I take the time to sit down with them, listen to them, know them, and love them?” It’s so easy to be fixated on me being the one on the receiving end rather than the giving end.

The same is true for encouragement. I often find myself longing for some form of encouragement. But I can’t complete my request without asking how I’m going to encourage someone else today. How will I bring life? Will I be the encouragement that I want to experience?

“You take the time to really look at me…”

Bangkok is a huge city, but as I take my familiar route to work I can’t help but feel a little bit like I’m known. And it’s a good feeling. In the 7-11 and the supermarket, they know me. When I walk up to the bubble tea stand they don’t even have to ask me what I want. They know me. As I approach the lady on the street selling breakfast she says “gloo-ay” and passes me a fried banana wrapped in sticky rice. The same is true for the woman at the fruit stand. I want one guava – with the core! (this always makes her laugh) and one papaya. And as I enter the small family-owned store across from my apartment, the lady starts putting together the toiletries that I come for every other week. And then she tells me the total cost in English and Thai and waits for me to say it back to her, because she knows I’m trying to learn my numbers.

They know me. And in all honestly, I know that they know me because I am a farang girl with wild hair. Of course I stand out to them. But it’s nice to be known, even in such a small capacity.

“You actually know me.”

While this concept of being known is desired, it’s also scary. It means that as you get to know me you will discover that I am not that perfect person that I’d like you to think I am. I don’t have it all together, I’m fairly awkward, and I say stupid things on a regular basis. But the sweet paradox is this: if someone actually knows me, then they are not going to judge me based on those things.

I love what Brennan Manning says in The Ragamuffin Gospel: “The kingdom belongs to people who aren’t trying to look good or impress anybody, even themselves” (Manning 53).

When I can accept this, I can accept the freedom of being known.

“Every thought inside, every hair on my head, every hurt stored up, every hope, every dread…”

I love how God is described in Genesis 16. When she is unable to conceive, Sarai gets her servant Hagar to sleep with her husband Abram to bear a child. But when Hagar becomes pregnant Sarai begins treating her harshly. Hagar flees from her mistress but encounters an angel of the Lord, who tells her that God has heard her cry for help. And so Hagar calls God by a new name, “El-roi.”

“You are the God who sees me,” she says.

I love the promise that I have a God who sees me, who knows me, and who loves me. If I feel alone, misunderstood, or fearful, I don’t have to explain myself away, fight for attention, or try to impress with words. I can rest in the knowledge that I am known and loved by God.

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