It is a human to want to be known. To be known in a way where the people around you understand the different parts of your personality, for some reason, brings peace of mind. To "be known" may not be as necessary as having food or water for survival, but it is certainly a part of staying mentally sane. I talk to my former room-mates on a regular basis because they understand who I am on a deeper level. Former room-mates not only understand how often I wash the dishes and pay the rent, they also witnessed me respond to the good and bad times in life.
My friend Seth and I were room-mates in Slovakia (Central Europe) in 2006 while working with a ministry on a university campus. We were hanging out about two years ago, reflecting on our travels around Europe during that year. We traveled to Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Rome, Spain and every significant city in Slovakia. The saddest place we visited was Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp in Poland. Somehow the conversation got started on how we planned our trips. The way I remembered it, I had planned the trip to Poland, but Seth said "You know Nate, I planned most of that trip." He said this in a sort of annoyed tone of voice. I wanted to argue back----but I don't remember doing any of the planning. This conversation was 7 years after the trip happened, but I wondered to myself "Did he really plan most of the trips we took?" My perception of myself as a brave world traveler was weakened a bit.
I welcome these kinds of interactions from someone who has known me since 2004. Seth's view of me is more objective in comparison to my other friends. We took multiple classes together at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He invited me to spend a year in Slovakia as a missionary where we worked on a team together, a grand adventure. He was the person who was standing beside me when I heard (over the phone) my brother had been killed in a car accident.
Being known by my friends involves lots of inside jokes and long winded stories, but it also involves friends being able to remind me of my "blind spots" or personal flaws I am unaware of. Friends who can carefully (as Seth has done multiple times in my life) point out our blind spots are invaluable for personal growth. Friends bring joy and fun, but they also can bring us truth.
But sometimes, you do not have an honest friend around. I recently moved to a Morehead City, NC where I only knew one person. Moving to a new city means breaking ground with new relationships and starting over, which is very exciting. But this can also result, at the beginning, of being isolated. Isolation can lead to having to deal with a subjective view of yourself, without those friends to keep you in check.
Having a subjective view of yourself presents two terrifying possibilities. The first is that I can make the same mistakes over and over. As forgetful as I can often be, it is possible to "learn" something when I am 23 and then repeat it when I am 29. Lucy Grealy sums this up perfectly:
"I used to think truth was eternal, that once I knew, once I saw, it would be with me forever, a constant by which everything else could be measured. I know now that this isn't so, that most truths are inherently unretainable, that we have to work hard all our lives to remember the most basic things."
Sure, I have learned many things over the years that are tattooed to my brain and stored in my long term memory. However there are sometimes stuff gets lost in your rain and you are at risk of having to learn the same lesson more than once. It is sometimes hard to keep what is important at the front of my brain. Doesn't that sound terrifying?
Psalm 139 gives some insight into both of these terrifying possibilities. If Psalm 139 is true, as David writes, it sheds light on God's understanding of individual human beings. If this passage is true, the implications then mean that I have hope in addressing problem of "knowing myself. God has an objective view of Nathan Branson.
Pslam 139 is biblical evidence about the knowledge of God. It is an argument that God has a deep personal understanding of individuals. The first verse from this passage says: "You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from a far." Here we see this is not just David talking about how God knows how to create the oceans, how a Bradford Pear tree grows or how God could easily explain human anatomy. All of those things are interesting, but God's knowledge goes into the psychological parts of the human mind, which are sometimes unknown to ourselves. When David writes "you perceive my thoughts from a far" isn't just the fact that God created the human brain, but he also understand what goes on within the human soul, memory and consciousness. According to Psalm 139 God understands what we consider subjective (isolated personal thoughts) from an objective point of view.
Knowing that God has an objective point of view of my personal story and that He "perceives my thoughts from afar" is hopeful. As Lucy Grealy said, I takes work to remember the most basic truths----- but God understands my patterns and personal history despite this. Psalm 139 has recently guided my prayers in having confidence that God knows my personal history. I often pray to God "Please help me to understand myself so I am not an idiot." (My inner prayers to God are often pretty desperate.) One definition of an idiot would be to repeat the same mistake over and over. Stubbornness, pride and forgetfulness can often prevent us from changing or remembering to change. Therefore, I pray that God help understands my own thoughts.
The second terrifying possibility that comes from not being "known" is the idea of not understanding how to deal with unanswerable questions. I have many questions about life that I haven't found the answers for. For instance, I do not understand why time goes by so fast. It baffles me and I feel like it is 2009 or 2013---not 2016. Perhaps this is because I am a nostalgic person who thinks about the past quite a bit. I woke up yesterday morning thinking "What year is it?-------It is 2016. Crap." When I ask older people this question, hoping for some insight: "Why is it 2016?"-----they often laugh and say "Son, time just starts to speed on up for the rest of your life! Get used to it." I want a solution to this, but nobody seems to be able to explain this.
Psalm 139 is focused on God's internal knowledge of people, which I think includes the strange questions that do not have immediate answers. David writes "For you created my inmost being . . .How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!" The question "Why is it 2016?" isn't just an intellectual question, it involved the soul and emotions. Such questions can be annoying to others because they may not see why finding an answer would matter. David says "How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast the sum of them" because God can answer our most perplexing questions. I let this passage inform my prayers, yet I do not expect immediate answers. To other people my questions might seem absurd, but to God, since he created the human soul, he would have insight as to why the passage of time bothers me.
It is very important to be known by our friends and family, it is part of staying mentally healthy. However, we can also be confident that God is aware of each individual's psychology, personal quirks, flaws and questions as well according to Psalm 139. This passage can inform us on how to pray, as we see how David prayed. If you are like me, your prayers are sometimes desperate, random and spontaneous, so passages like this can come in handy on remembering what God knows about you.