There were two words on the back of a dust-encrusted dump truck that jolted me to the fact that God might actually know me really well, and…even love me.
To give you a bit of context, I was in the throes of the pubescent years and the days were colored with plaid clothing, knee-high socks, Doc Martens, and grunge music (ah yes, the 90s). I had been told about Jesus so I knew that God supposedly loved me along with every other person he had ever created, knowing intimate parts about us—like the number of hairs on our heads and how many days we’d walk the earth.
But somewhere in my childhood and tween years, I gradually began to question the notion that God’s love for me was personal and real. I never doubted his existence as a whole, but he felt far too removed as a cosmic deity who was too busy to meddle in my life. Comparatively speaking, it was a fairly comfortable life minus the grief I silently carried following the loss of a loved one. As a sensitive kid who was highly attuned to her environment and who carried emotions in her gut since day one, anxiety and persistent stomachaches took up residence inside my body.
By the time I started sixth grade, the internal doubts I had about God’s love were at their height. But one fall afternoon, my views began to change when God sent me a message on a garbage truck.
My mom picked me up from school and as we were nearing our neighborhood, a truck pulled out directly in front of us. There were two men, one hanging off each side of the back end, who were systematically grabbing hold of trash cans and emptying their contents into the truck. My eyes stayed on their synchronized movements until landing on two words finger written within the encrusted dirt: Psalm 139.
“Huh, maybe you should look it up when we get home,” my mom suggested.
I knew that God supposedly loved me along with every other person he had ever created, but His love wasn’t personal.
Later that evening as I opened my Bible to the Psalm, the words “known,” “wonderfully made,” and “woven together,” were the assurance I lacked.
Truth be told, I haven’t shared this story with many because it sounds a little silly. All I know is that dump truck and the psalm gave me affirmation and proof that God knew what I needed that afternoon even when I didn’t. It was my first taste of what has felt like an insatiable quest of living fully known and fully loved.
God Fully Knows Me Better Than I Know Myself
Humans are complex creatures. If there’s one thing I’ve observed about our nature in my 39 years, it is this: at our core, we desire to be fully known and loved.
I can easily say that the last two decades of my life have held many moments where I tried to figure out my truest self. There are aspects of my identity that were firmly grounded in my faith, such as my belief that we are all created in God’s image. But this inner quest of finding myself manifested itself in both not-so-healthy and healthy ways: from contorting myself in attempts to fit into elusive boxes created by others; to self-medicating with pills and toxic relationships with men; to opening myself up to adventure and shiny, new experiences; to talking with a therapist who enabled me to make sense of certain parts of my story; to cultivating my interests and developing my strengths.
It can be incredibly exciting and nourishing to our souls when we discover and understand hidden parts of ourselves in a deeper way. But even when we think we know ourselves pretty well, our Creator knows us even more so: “I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! […] How thoroughly you know me, Lord! You even formed every bone in my body when you created me in the secret place, carefully, skillfully shaping me from nothing to something” (Psalm 139:14-15).
God Fully Knows Us When People Only Know Parts of Us
My husband and I were recently given homework from our therapists that would help foster healthy communication between us. On the handouts given to us were outlines for talking and listening with the bolded letters at the top: “You are simply seeking to know who this person is on the planet.” To know who this person is.
When it comes to our relationships, we can seek to fully know another and at the same time allow ourselves to be known in return. Being known is felt when that friend asks you the same pointed questions you’ve been internally mulling over, or when you allow your guard to come down and speak openly about your experiences. How freeing is it when you know you’re sharing from an authentic, uninhibited place—when you’re allowing your truest self to come forward?
Even when we think we know ourselves pretty well, our Creator knows us even more.
But as fallible beings, we all have our limits. We can only know another before reaching our human limitations, yet God isn’t confined in the ways we are. He knows every single part of us intimately. There is something reassuringly mysterious and beautiful about that fact. “Lord, you have searched me and you know me” (Psalm 139:1).
God Fully Knows and Loves Me Even When I’m Afraid to Let Myself Be Known
We can be known by the people closest to us, but I’d venture to guess there are parts of us that we keep hidden in fear that if someone truly knew all aspects of us, we’d no longer be loved or accepted. There’s no doubt about it: the thought of being totally vulnerable and transparent feels terrifying. Coupled with the terror is that we are masters at creating facades by portraying ourselves in one way while living in a completely opposite manner. We keep ourselves protected under a fig leaf of shame or Hoover Dam-sized walls or become chameleons depending on who we’re with. I am no stranger to protecting myself in these ways.
But at some point, the facades and the acting wears us thin. We may carry doubts about ourselves like the ones that haunted me when I was younger and throughout various points in my life:
No one knows me at my core.
No one sees me.
Am loved for who I am?
Is it possible to be fully loved if I’m fully known?
Psalm 139 gives us the answer to these deep musings of our hearts: yes, indeed we are fully known and fully loved by our Creator. This is our truest identity. All of the other stuff is secondary.
I walk in this truth with utter confidence on some days, and other days, I stumble aimlessly around. Yet, little-by-little (sometimes two steps forward, one backward), I’m allowing this truth to continue changing me from the inside out.
So, be on the lookout for the ways God assures you of his knowledge of you. It could be in the most random of places and ways that he wants to reveal this message to you. And may the following words be imprinted upon our hearts as we find freedom living from a place of being fully known and fully loved:
“Lord, you know everything there is to know about me. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind. You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins” (Psalm 139:1-4).
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For more articles on faith and women of self-worth, check out:
Can You Be Confident God Knows What You Need?
Have You Ever Said It? “I’m Not Good Enough.”
Religion vs. Relationship: What Will Grow Your Faith More?
To the Christian Woman With a Crooked Past
How Do I Know What Defines Me?
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