Identity Relationships

Who Knows You?

In his book, “To Be Told”, Dan Allender, Ph.D., says most men live an unexamined life. We grow up, graduate, fall in love, marry, raise a family, work hard, enjoy our free-time, even love God, but never truly know ourselves, or are known by others.

In the YouTube series called Killing Lions,,  John Eldredge asks Trevor, “What’s your worst fear?”  That’s a question every man doesn’t want to answer, but he must. Trevor’s answer strikes home “Being 55 and having no close friends.”

Recently, my uncle and I were messaging online about my book, Mentoring Warriors, and what were my essentially mentorless warrior years (18-30).  The way he asked the question said it all. “So, are you saying, David, that no one took the time to know you?”  He hit the nail on the head. It wasn’t that no one loved me, God gave me a family, relatives, friends, but no one took the time to truly know me. I felt alone, unknown, and therefore a bother, an inconvenience. 

Known to the Soul

Honestly, for someone to be known to the core of their soul is a risky deal. What if you don’t like what you see in me?  What if there is something about my past, my here and now that causes you to reject me? 

A friend loves at all times,

    and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 17:17 ESV

Part of knowing yourself is allowing yourself to be known by others, and by God. It takes a risk to put yourself out there. There are no guarantees others will come to your side, love on you. But, then again, it’s unrealistic to think everyone is going to like you or care you exist. There is someone who cares. Someone who is willing to know you. Yes, God does. He knows all about you and is not hesitant at all to love you without condition. And, yes, that is what you are looking for in another person as well.

Is There Anyone Who Delights in Me?

Ever since you were a toddler, you’ve been asking this God-given question. Does anyone delight in me? God designed the answer to come through a boy’s father, but, because of our broken world, dad’s don’t always come through for their boys. Whether it’s because dads have their own hangup and sins to work through, or are missing from the relationship for a variety of reasons, they don’t speak life and love into their sons. Instead, often, frustrated with their own life, they take their anger out on their son. They never take the time to truly know their boy.  It’s called a father wound.  If that’s your case, I have good news!

Four Layers of Relationships

There are basically four layers or relationships you have with those you know. The first is called the Discovery Stage.  It’s when you meet someone and discover the commonalities you have. Likes and Dislikes. Discovery can be fun!  A young man met a nice girl For about 6-7 months they were in the Discovery stage. Every conversation opened the door to new things about each other.  

Authentic is the next stage. You go beyond weather talk to addressing real issues you face. Problems with parents, financial issues. Job hassles.  When your friend reciprocates, the relationship has moved to a deeper level. As Tim Muehlhoff explains in his book “I Beg to Differ”, the deeper you go in a relationship, the more phatic connections you make. Those phatic connections build trust and greater commitment to each other. 

Transparent.  Like the windshield on your car, transparency is looking deeper into your soul. Beyond behaviors, glimpses of the heart are seen. The things that make you tick. Values, hopes, and dreams. This gets even closer to the real you; how God’s wired you.

Vulnerable. When I had my open heart bypass surgery, I was totally naked. Exposed. Sure, hospital gowns may have given me a sense of modesty, but the truth of the matter, there was nothing I had that doctors and nurses didn’t see or poke and prod. Believe me when I say it was painful. Being cut and sawed open hurts. However, with time and diligent exercise, I now celebrate more than five years since that excruciating week in the hospital. Being vulnerable was worth the outcome.

I liken vulnerability in relationships to heart surgery. With the Lord’s help, God uses some relationships to go deeper in our souls. Layers of the onion are unpeeled. True desires and struggles are seen for what they are. The good, the bad, and the ugly. 

Friends and Brothers

A man needs even one or two close-knit man to man relationships that can plunge the depths of our souls and come out loving us even more on the other side. Living this is a two-way street.  Both of you have to be committed to the sometimes excruciating but extremely rewarding effort of knowing and being known. 

24/7 Love

When you are known like this, you live in a 24/7 love that parallels God’s love for you. 24/7 love may not mean you spend every moment together, but it does mean that anytime, anywhere, you can reach out and be there for each other. Someone who knows you and you know him. Next to marriage, every man needs such a soul-brother iron sharpens iron relationship.

Now, that’s a true friend and a brother who knows you.

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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