Friday, February 11, 2011


For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 
(I Cor. 13:12, kjv)

We talk a lot about “transparency” these days.

It is obvious from the responses to this post that many of us wish for more of that.

We long to exist in a state of being fully known, yet fully loved.

But we have been born and raised in a world that loves conditionally.

It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault. We can’t blame it all on our parents or our schools or our spouses or our friends.

This place is just a brownie-point, gold-star kind of world. From preschool up until the present, we’ve been graded. (Actually, since infancy. “Be a good little baby and stop crying now.”) Points for good behavior. Points for superior achievement. Points for correct appearance. Ad nauseum.

Measure up, measure up, measure up.

But we don’t.

Some of us even admit to it.

We can’t quite seem to make the mark. Even if we’re able to convince the world that we’re perfect in every way, we know the truth.

I know what goes on inside of me. You know what goes on inside of you.

It ain’t always pretty.

So we hide the ugly… sometimes even from ourselves… stuffing it back down inside to damp, dark, moldy places where it grows into Shame.

But don’t we all yearn for freedom? For fresh air and sunshine? To dance under a brilliant blue sky with our Father smiling down on us?

I do.

I want to be that little girl again. I want to recapture those few moments of self-conscious-less joy. Self abandonment. Purity. Innocence.

The way it was in the beautiful garden before the killing knowledge.

Imagine what it must have been like to live without the possibility of evil. Without knowing what it was.

Desiring children, not puppets, God gave us the gift of choice.

Strangely, sadly, we chose… we choose… rebellion instead of joyful obedience.

Why do we think that God is holding something back from us…
something better than what we already have?

We want our own way. Not His.

There’s something in us that would rather jump in a filthy mud puddle than go skinny-dipping in an unpolluted sea. Our desires are messed up. As C. S. Lewis wrote, It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

But it seems that even paradise was not enough for us.

With paradise lost, came the covering–up. The hiding of shame. The subterfuge. The pretending. And so it’s been forever after.

Opacity became the refuge from the reality of our imperfection. The protective covering of armor that prevents others from seeing what we hate about ourselves.


I’ve always loved the words at the top. Even before I had a clue what they meant. I still have the derivative Rolling Stones album from 1960-something: Through the Past, Darkly.

I liked the verse from a philosophical point of view: the meaning of Reality vs. Illusion. We were into that kind of stuff then. Like Plato’s Cave.

Later, I realized that modern translations are more accurate:

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.” (niv)

It is the reflection of self that keeps us from seeing truly.

…that keeps us from really knowing ourselves. The image of Self… self-image obscures the reality of how we actually are.

And keeps us from seeing Ultimate Reality.

From this side of the mirror, all we see is the reflection of our own imperfection. Our distorted view of reality has come from years of believing lies about who we are. Years of developing negative attitudes and prejudiced opinions, years of thinking we know it all.

We know so very little.  (‘Now I know in part…’)

Human beings can see only a tiny part of the beautiful big picture. We squint our eyes, peering into Eternity, but catch only a glimpse that soon fades away.


It’s a one-way mirror.

Reality is obscured only from our side. From the other side, everything is completely transparent.

We are completely transparent.

Naked and exposed. The view from the other side is much clearer than an airport body scan.
Sharper than the most advanced MRI.

We’re as clear as crystal to the one who matters most. (And evidently to a “great cloud of witnesses” as well.*) We are fully known. We are known far better than we know ourselves.

It’s no use trying to hide.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Ps. 139:11-13)
God has seen it ALL. Every secret sin of heart, mind, or deed. Every vicious thought. Every fall. Every wound. Every abuse. Every failure. Every act of desperation. Every pettiness. Every loss of love. And every lack of love.

He knows every single thing there is to know about me. About you.

He knows each of us fully, more fully than any human being ever will.

And, still, He loves us infinitely.

He calls us “beloved.”

So why are we so afraid to be transparent with each other on this side of the mirror? With other perfectly imperfect people?

We're all in this together. 

(I'm taking a baby step this afternoon.)


(* "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles." Hebrews 12:1)


Anonymous said...

May favorite translation states this verse this way:

"Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete. Then I will have complete knowledge as God has complete knowledge of me."

When I read this, it resonated deep within and I continue to unpack all its meaning in my life.

To answer your question, for me, I have experienced the sting of rejection and criticism (as we all have). To avoid that, it's easier to "hide" behind the illusion of having it all together. As much as I want transparency in my life, that means risking again, and there are days my heart just can't bear the pain of any further rejection.

So much more to consider as I reflect on your insights in this discussion.


Corinne Cunningham said...

Deep deep breath... this was so powerful to read. I'm left pondering... and sitting in a puddle of weepy thankfulness.

Anonymous said...

I love the thought of being fully known and - still - fully loved.

In The Prodigal God, Keller comments on how BOTH the younger and the older brother are lost, in spite of the Father lavishing grace on each one. Sadly, only the younger brother accepts it, and we're left wondering what the older brother will ultimately choose. The younger brother, who does a whole lot of sinning, and, in the end, not a lot of hiding winds up truly knowing the Father. The other son resorts to anger and bitterness, after a life of measuring and comparing. As the story finishes, he's the one who's alienated from the Father.

Oh, that we could understand, bask in and expend His free, marvelous GRACE!

allison guyer said...

Love this post so much. It goes hand in hand with the study that I am doing right now with my small group - Breaking Free. Wow, just awesome to think about the freedom we have in Christ to be known AND loved - No. matter. what.
hugs to you! allison guyer

Karen T said...

new exciting book- recom. by your fav Ann Lamott

Susan said...

There you go again - saying what we all need to hear, even when we didn't know we needed to hear it.