On the one hand, it’s really nice to feel like you know your friends, and are connected through the long depths of years lived together.
On the other hand, it’s also beautiful to be caught in the mystery that always exists between two people – the sanctity of our own minds and the mystery of what anyone does when he’s alone with no one to answer to but himself and God.
That mystery is SO important and I sometimes wonder why so many of us gladly give it away, without so much as a wave goodbye… sometimes without even noticing.
I unintentionally gave away that mystery away for a year or so.
And I hated it.
Have you ever known everything about a social outing you didn’t even attend? I have.
I remember a conversation I had, in which a friend was trying to explain why he’d made certain decisions… I was frustrated and tired of the conversation before it even got going because I already knew what he was doing and why since something like five other people had already told me exactly what he was telling me, and I was going insane with knowing more than I wanted to.
“I know,” I said. “I don’t need you to tell me, because I know when you made the decision and why. I know where you sat, who you talked to and for how long. I know what you talked about. I know why you’re doing what you’re doing.”
I don’t know why I said that. It was arrogant and rude; I probably should have just listened, but at some point, I stopped wanting to know every detail of every dinner. I didn’t want to hear my friend’s POV about his own life, because I’d heard four or five other POVs and nothing that happened at that dinner interested me anymore; none of it was mysterious and none of the people who attended were mysterious.
On the flip side of things, I’m sure that every one of my friends heard four or five POVs of every dinner I was at – knew who I sat next to, what I talked about and what sort of food I ate, which pisses me off a little.
The James Dean rebel in me can’t stand people thinking they know me, so whenever anyone acted like they had me figured out, I’d pull back, do something unpredictable, try to escape.
I need my mystery; I may want everyone to know who and what I am in the general sense, but the details are mine to reveal or not at my discretion. Know that I’m a thinker, but my thoughts are my own.
I need for everyone to know that there’s more to me than the categories I fall into, hobbies I take up, dinners I attend, classes I’m taking, books I’ve written. It’s a rare person who can identify even half of the things I do, and even rarer for someone not to get lost in the contradictions and depth… not because I’m oh-so-much-more-complex-than-everyone else. I’m not.
It’s because we’re all too complex and too mysterious.
And why shouldn’t we be? We’re images of a mysterious God, so shouldn’t we respect the mystery? Shouldn’t we admit we don’t have anyone completely figured out because only God numbers the hairs of our heads?
There’s a humility in letting others remain mysterious. There’s wisdom and joy in admitting how little we really know.
It might make us feel informed (or even a bit omniscient) to know who sat next to whom, who flirted, who cried, who was laughing too loudly or couldn’t seem to decide who to talk to… but the true moments of connection come from a mysterious person choosing vulnerability when she could hide who she really is.
Because just as we can only know what the Father chooses to reveal of Himself, we can only truly know of others what they choose to reveal. The rest is speculation from the darkness. It’s believing we’re closer to omniscience than we are.