conocer – to know; to have an idea of or to understand (capture) intellectually the nature, qualities and circumstances of people or things; to understand or perceive someone/thing as distinct from others; to feel or experience…
We were playing a “game” in a marriage book by John Gottman, answering questions about each other and, as Gottman says, expanding or filling in details in our “love maps.”
I asked #49, “Name my major rival or enemy.”
He paused a moment before responding, “Your self.”
“I was going to say you don’t really have any major enemies,” he explained, “but I think the only one would be your self.”
I finally took the plunge and did something I’ve been thinking about for a long time: I signed up for an advanced Spanish class through a community continuing-education program. The first night I was terribly nervous. I guess I typically am nervous about going into a new/unknown situation. But by the end of the night, I was excited. I love this language. Beyond that, I am terribly fond of grammar and phonetics. I am deeply intrigued by mutual influence of culture on language and language on culture (is it significant that the complete sentence “I love you” or “yo te amo a ti” is terribly redundant in Spanish? or that many other Spanish sentences employ similar redundancy, probably to emphasize the subjects and objects?)
I hear in surround sound the whispered challenge to “know thyself.” From one side, a sister encourages me to hold still and say yes to Jesus. I protest that I do not know how and persist in unending busy-ness. From another, the practice of Lent swells with unending reminders of the stark juxtaposition of our sinfulness and God’s grace. I am tempted to obsess over the rules of fasting, neglecting the invitation to deeper prayer and recognition of who I really am, simultaneously True and Good and full of sinful leanings.
I have experienced how meaningful it is to be known, to have my husband pin down an aspect of my self that I hadn’t yet recognized, to honor my own dreams. See, that wasn’t too bad, was it?
Why, then, am I so terrified to continue down the road of “know thyself”? If I have the potential to be my own greatest rival or enemy and also my own great advocate, if in knowing my self I have the opportunity to also see God’s faithfulness and grace revealed, if, if, if…
then why not?