In every human relationship, some degree of self-disclosure is both a natural invitation to draw the other closer and become more familiar and a consequence of that trust and vulnerability that it creates. When we meet another person for the first time, there is no interaction, no connection, no friendship. Not quite yet. It’s just a meeting, much like any other. We find ourselves in the same place at the same time because we share some common interest like gardening or photography or sports or astrophysics. Or it can be completely random like going grocery shopping or listening to a concert or coming to church. If I am willing to interact with others around me, I might introduce myself or make a random observation about the weather or even join in a conversation. Or I could just stand there in an unthreatening posture and a pleasant non-creepy smile. You want to know if your smile is creepy? Check yourself in a mirror. Or better yet, ask someone who isn’t afraid of telling you honestly.
The decision to extend myself in the direction of another indicates I possess just enough self-confidence to understand there are others out there just like me who may also be interested in social interaction. I picture a child holding on to a parent’s hand who eventually lets go to examine a bug on the sidewalk or pet a cat or interact with another child. Mom and dad are still there if I lose my nerve. Eventually I might choose to venture farther, learn to trust myself and other people, and form lasting friendships that make me a better person and the world a better place. Of course, all that can happen if only I am willing to waste precious time, effort, and resources in hopes of living a life with meaning and purpose. Otherwise, what else is there?
Any self-disclosure no matter how innocent or earth-shattering manifests my willingness to be vulnerable. And that vulnerability opens me to possible negative judgement and rejection. So, I will move cautiously, read signals carefully, and only take into my confidence whoever I am convinced will make a good friend. This decision of course is constantly under review, my personal Department of Homeland Security at work. Now each time I discover something new about my friend, it affects me in some way. I am changed because that knowledge invites me to appreciate my friend in a new different light, perhaps even a better light. That knowledge points out to me the unique beauty and wonder that is my friend, and it can so nourish me as to make me see my surroundings and interpret what happens in my life in light of that beauty and wonder.
I heard someone once call sacred scripture God’s love letter to the human race. I don’t know much about love letters, but I suspect many of you do. Among other things, it is a form of God’s self-disclosure making himself known to us, opening himself to critical judgement and rejection. But I’m not afraid for God. I’m confident God knows what he’s doing. He’s been at it long before any of us came along.
In the passage from the book of Proverbs we pick up hints about God that scripture scholars tell us become much clearer with further disclosures from Jesus. God’s wisdom is not just some quality or attribute of God, but a person who was with God from the beginning, who was God’s craftsman, in whom God delighted, who played before God, who found delight in the human race. Immediately we want to know more. Is this just a figure of speech? Do we take it literally? What do we do with this new information? Mind you, parts of the book of Proverbs date from the 10th, 7th, and 6th centuries BC which makes none of this information particularly new. It’s only new if we haven’t been paying attention.
In the gospels Jesus reveals that he came from the Father and that he does only the will of the Father who sent him. Although he is distinct from the Father, he also claims that he and the Father are one. And with his return to the Father, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit is sent, this Spirit of truth, who will guide us to all truth. Would the Spirit then be the same Wisdom of God from Proverbs present from the beginning? And if through the Spirit Jesus says he would be with us until the end of the age, Jesus the very Word of God present from the beginning with God who created the universe, we might put two and two together, or rather one and one and one, to grasp the awesome mystery of three distinct persons yet one God present from the beginning. I’m not saying I understand it perfectly. So, it’s entirely okay if you don’t either. No judgement.
But what does all this self-disclosure of God accomplish? Sometimes when some people share, we might prefer instead they didn’t. T.M.I. we say, too much information. So, is God’s self-disclosure too much? There’s no ick, so we are not repulsed. But what if it is God’s invitation for us to draw closer, to become more familiar, to know and trust him more, so that we can become better persons and the world a better place?
God is love. God is three persons. God is one. God desires the ultimate good of all, and that I come to live with him forever in the life to come. To know God better is to appreciate God in a new different, perhaps even a better light, to discover the unique beauty and wonder of God, a discovery that nourishes me so I see my surroundings and interpret what happens in my life in light of the beauty and wonder of God. Of course, all this happens if only I am willing to waste precious time, effort, and resources in hopes of living a life with meaning and purpose. Otherwise, what else is there?
Rolo B Castillo © 2022