A New Perspective On Familiarity
By Kim DeHoog
- We’ve all been there, stuck in the everyday routine
that has become like a jail, seeing the same memorized faces day
after day, and secretly longing for something new and fresh. It’s
a classic case of familiarity. Most people don’t like this
stale feeling in their lives, but actually, when we are familiar
with someone or something, it just shows how God created us to
be personal, intimate, human beings. “For you created my
inmost being …” (Psalm 139:13)
So often, familiarity breeds indifference. Growing up the youngest
of 5 kids, I never thanked my parents for seeing to it that every
night my entire family sat down together to eat dinner. It was
an everyday occurrence that I had simply come to expect. I never
asked the others about their day, never appreciated their presence.
Now as I look back on those times, it means so much to me. Eating
together every night established our family as a priority.
And the fundamental truth that I have learned is that when we
see something, hear something, and feel something everyday, there
is no way to avoid getting familiar with it. So familiar that,
in fact, it gets tiresome. People in any close relationships,
be it siblings, friends, or spouses, eventually deal with familiarity.
We cannot always identify the source of our frustrations, but
when our blood boils at the sight of a bath towel left on the
floor again, we should know that’s familiarity. We get so
used to each other and our behavior becomes so predictable that
it exceeds the level of comfort, and instead becomes irritating.
Sometimes we even grow familiar with God. How many church services
do we yawn through, thinking to ourselves, I think I heard a sermon
on this subject already. We get through a passage of scripture
and wonder, what did I just read? Sometimes even our prayers pick
up on this attitude when we mindlessly fall back to easy phrases
without really thinking.
Familiarity can be dangerous because we lose sight of the creative
God that we have. When we get used to our surroundings, even bored
with them, we no longer see the wonder of God. “Your mercies
are new every morning”. If we take our familiarity of our
surroundings and pray for a fresh, renewed perspective, perhaps
gratitude can still be generated.
How can we view familiarity with new perspective? By understanding
that we were created to know and be known; there is a reason for
repetition and patterns. For example, if 2+2 only equaled 4 sometimes,
we wouldn’t understand addition. Likewise, it is through
the same patterned experiences that we understand God’s
way of working. If God disciplined us differently everyday, or
His love for us changed, we would never grow intimately dependent
on His character. Though we may get familiar with God’s
ways, it is only through that repetition that we know Him to be
the unchanging God that He is.
And as for our daily lives, the things that surround us day after
day are the things that will mean the most to us years later.
When we imagine ourselves without one of the normal persons or
places around us, when we are honest with ourselves about the
everyday tools that God uses in our lives, then very often, we’ll
find that God uses that which is nearest to us to teach us. If
we are constantly dismissing those things with a bored wave of
the hand, we miss out on too much.
God designed us specially. Now imagine if God were to get bored
with the way that He has created us. What if He got tired of the
way that we do certain things? What if He yawned His way through
our worship? Psalm 139:3-4 says,
You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue,
you know it O Lord.
Talk about predictable! But not for one second does God get
bored with us. He enjoys us. He takes immense pleasure in the
way that He made us when we use our uniqueness to glorify Him.
And in order to bless Him back, we need to take stock of all
of the commonplace things that He has placed around us. Take time
to thank God that He is once again reminding us of those weaknesses
that need to be worked on. Praise God for being the same God today
that He was yesterday, and look around, really look hard, at the
people around us.
Most of our lives are spent with these familiar and endearing
ties. If we do not see them to be the miracles that they are,
we are basically telling God that He should have done a better
job of providing. We are shrugging our shoulders indifferently,
and our God is such a God that one cannot know Him and be anything
but different. We will be forever changed for His glory.
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