Love – it’s predictably unpredictable. It confuses me, exhausts me, drives me, gives me direction, and defines me. There is no formula for it, yet love is a tangible reality. It can be defined but not completely grasped. Love can be found and chosen, given, received, rejected, manipulated, crushed, grown and squelched. People both live because of it and die for it. Love defies boundaries and constraints; but can’t thrive without them. It is fluid and at the same time absolute. Love is the pinnacle of life and the paradigm of Christ.
Love is caught in the release, a passionate balance, and an endless energy. It intentionally decreases for increase and holds back to bring freedom. Love is instinctive and taught, but never bought. It breaks and heals, blinds and brings clarity, bids and forbids, calls and answers, fights but doesn’t force. It’s sexual and it’s platonic, unconditional and intimate. It’s a choice and it’s a feeling. Love is knowing and being known. Never was there a concept that held so much power, definition, dimension, and conflict of meaning united under one word.
I am a person who loves definition and clear direction – I long for black and white while I live in a world of gray. I serve a God who is clothed in rainbows of color and depths of mystery. I prefer extremes; to live passionately by standing on one side. Yet the paradox of love demands a balance – a center in the irony of those extremes.
One of the mysteries and paradoxes of love is knowing and being known in the very intimate recesses of our lives and hearts. It’s not just a physical/sexual knowing but a knowing – an accepting and embracing of the very essence of a person. The more I know of love, the more I discover there is to know – more mystery. It frustrates me and entices me at the same time. In the last two years I have known and experienced every one of the above paradoxes – and know in another year I could probably re-write this after experiencing them all over again.
I recently uncovered a small bit of the mystery while reading Dannah Gresh’s newest book* . One of the Hebrew words for “know” is also a word used in scripture as both a sexual love and a deep knowing love – “Yada”. Adam lay (yada) with his wife or in some translations –knew (yada) his wife and she conceived.
“Yada is ‘to know, to be known, and to be deeply respected.’ What an amazing thing God thought about sex. That it was to be something that causes us to deeply know another. Without alluding directly to the physical act of sexuality, this word points to the deep emotional quenching I long for in the act of sex.” pg 17
We all long to be loved, known and have that deep emotional longing in our hearts satisfied.
“Yada is a word that transcends the physical. It describes the whole knowing of a person. It portrays an uncovering and an embrace of the nakedness of another. There is no secrets, and nothing held back.” pg 24
That is connection worth having! And by the way – “yada” is not always used in Hebrew for sex – in cases of incest or rape “shakab” is used – meaning ‘an exchange of bodily fluid’. There is no knowing or respect there.
Yada is also a pre-knowing or seeking – it’s not just an accepting and respecting of the now.
“Before there can be yada, there must be a quest… The quest of a heart propelled by true love not selfish desire. ‘Think of it as a before love.’ Before love is a yearning and searching for someone who does not yet reciprocate this love.” pg 22
While that is beautiful in sexual realm, it’s even more so in the emotional and intellectual realm. Sound at all like what the Lord does for us? He sought me out before I knew Him. He knows every bit of my nakedness, brokenness and loves me anyway. In Him I am known and free to be me – the way He made me. Nothing I do surprises Him. He “yada’s” me!
Here is the mystery of the love that blows my mind – Note the use of the word “know” transliterated from “yada” in Psalm 46:10:
“Be still and know (yada) I am God.”
This stopped me in my tracks. God wants me to know Him the way He knows me?!? My Lord who is clothed in rainbows of color and depths of mystery wants me to yada Him? This isn’t a creepy, sexual “Jesus is my boyfriend” thing. The Lord wants me to deeply know Him. Embrace every part of knowing of Him – the sides of Him that I don’t yet understand and that make me uncomfortable. The very paradox of who He is – Almighty, God, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, Sovereign, Friend, Lord, Savior, Father, Judge, merciful, righteous, holy and I AM. The Beginning and The End (now there is a paradox!). He won’t fit into a box of my making and the depths of His love certainly won’t either.
I’m learning to embrace the paradox of love in it’s entirety as the mystery of a God who yada’s me and wants me to yada Him. He woos my passionate heart and brings me to a balance found in Him alone. He is the paradigm and author of love and as such the balance of the paradox is found in Him.
*Dannah Gresh’s Book : “What are you waiting for? The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex”