“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

-Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

I‘ve always read this Timothy Keller quote in the context of marriage. But what I’m learning with the Lord lately is that this type of deep intimacy of being both known & loved is not reserved for romantic relationship alone. Yes, these words can be said of my husband who I am honored to be tethered to and do life alongside. But as I sat on the couch of a friend last night I was affirmed again and again that this is also true of her. Of our friendship. Of our deep closeness and likeness.

While exchanging life updates, wrestling hard truths and affirming great hopes, we did real, raw, life together on the couch and it was good. But it was when opening belated Christmas gifts that tears came to my eyes and the feeling of being so known and loved overwhelmed me yet again.

I am not a fan of receiving gifts. It’s just not one of my love languages. But gift exchanges with this friend are always different, because every year I eagerly open a gift I know will both delight and surprise me, affirming in me that I’m known very well.

Friends, our human hearts deeply long to be fully known and truly loved. We were built for this type of intimacy — we need it to survive this life. Do not count yourself out from it if you do not find yourself in a romantic relationship. God did not reserve this type of love and closeness for the covenant of marriage alone.

Do not be mistaken. I adore my husband and feel incredibly thankful do this life with him as my partner for the rest of our lives. Our marriage is both deeply satisfying and deeply sanctifying, and every day I find that I love him even more. But I do not believe that the Lord would leave me feeling unfulfilled should I never have met Nathan nor never married. My God created me for connection and I have experienced relational intimacy both with Him and with friendships that have deeply enriched my life.

Please do not wait for a romantic relationship to allow yourself to be intimately cared for. Do not buy into Satan’s lie that you are not capable of being fully loved and fully known outside of the entity of marriage. The Lord desperately wants to be that for all of His creation. So much so, that He also created an avenue for this intimacy within friendship. I know this to be true because I have experienced it in my own life. It exists, right on the other side of vulnerability, trust and a willingness to go deep, get real and be raw. We must fight past the lies and allow ourselves to be fully known and fully loved. There is deep intimacy and belonging for us in friendship. Don’t miss out on that gift.

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