I've been thinking about familiarity...

Psalm 23:3 Part 3

He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Psalm 23:3 (ESV)

I have a sister who is 13 years younger than I am. Because Julie was born in June and Iowa experiences a large infestation of June Bugs during the early summer, she quickly picked up the nickname—Bug! When Bug pops up on my cell phone, I know it is my baby sister calling!

My familiarity with my sister means I have intimate knowledge about her. I know my sister and, vice versa, she knows me for who I really am—with all my strengths and weaknesses—all the way down to my soul.

Intimate knowledge provides an opportunity to give and receive the gracious gift of understanding. When I reveal myself, I am hoping others will give me the benefit of the doubt and choose to be compassionate. Unfortunately, however, sometimes trust is violated. Have you experienced the betrayal of familiarity? Shakespeare said that familiarity, instead of endearing us to others, breeds contempt.

I realize that contempt is a painful reality in many relationships. When I look within I know that familiarity can certainly breed my worst behavior but because I am a child of God, it can also breed my best. I can choose to find fault and criticize and resent or I can choose to know and understand and be compassionate—and reserve my very best behavior for those closest to me. 

Jesus, my Shepherd, knows me and understands me completely—and He reserves His best gifts for me. There is no betrayal of familiarity or contempt in Him. Instead, He restores—renews—and repairs my soul and faithfully guides me on a decent and upright path each day.

Many years ago I wrote A Prayer for Passion to capture this thought. The last stanza goes like this:

Rock me to sleep each evening,
wherever I lay my head, whatever my circumstances
and whisper softly to me in the night watches,
revive my heart to trust You for another day,
as You tenderly repair mortal cracks and leaks in Your reservoir of passion
housed in my tattered but triumphant soul.
Amen.