Anyone who has seen the movie “The King And I” can tell you that the story is set in Siam. But the viewer may not realize that she has learned a great lesson about interpersonal relationships from the lyrics of a much-beloved song in the film. As those words reveal, Anna determines who is her cup of tea by getting to know them “day by day.”
Our society today suffers from a fast food mentality. The faster something is obtained, the better. We want burgers, cash and even relationships speedy quick. Getting a machine to instantly spit out cash to you and having a hamburger handed to you minutes (perhaps even seconds) after ordering it is doable and desirable. But can we really have a good relationship with someone whom we became acquainted with in the fast lane? Who has time to take days, weeks or even months to get to know anyone? We want to become fast friends fast.
To expedite the getting to know you process, people typically turn to a question and answer format. Search the Internet and you will find any number of articles telling you the best questions to ask to get to know someone. What’s their favorite food? What would they change about themselves if they could? Where would they travel if they could go anywhere in the world? So, you spend an hour asking the magic 50 questions suggested. Do you really know the person you queried? Or do you just know about that person?
In my job I regularly read profiles and home studies on prospective adoptive couples. After reviewing this documentation, I know plenty of facts and figures about them–age, income, number of siblings, years married, etc. But there is a world of difference in knowing things about someone and knowing the person herself. Actually spending time with someone is the best and really only way to get to know that person. You learn about a person from interaction and observation, not by interrogation.
Singles may use speed dating to determine if an individual is a good prospect for a date. Apparently they believe that quickly gathering facts about someone is a reliable tool in determining whether he/she is worthy of your time and effort for a relationship. This method seems destined to produce a relationship as short as the time spent getting to know the other person.
My father often told me, “Nothing good ever came easy.” As far as relationships go, that saying is spot on. Taking time to do something is hard for most of us. Why would we want to wait days to have something when we could have it in a few hours? Why not speed date rather than take time to really get to know someone not just know about them? You can read a dating profile and learn what Possible Mr. Right does for a living, but that does not tell you how he reacts under pressure, what sets him off, what touches him, etc. Those are things that are learned through experience–time spent actually being with that person and sharing bits of life together, not just bits of information.
Whew! Getting to know someone sounds like lots of work. But if you want a relationship to work, then you have to work at it by putting some time in to get to know the other person. Spending time together will reveal whether that person is your cup of tea or simply a sour lemon slice simply floating in your cup of life. Just like a tea bag must steep in hot water to produce a good cup of tea, people must spend time together in the hot water of life and experiences to determine if they will produce a good blend. You don’t dip a tea bag in the hot water for a few seconds and expect a perfect cup of tea to result.
Will anyone on this earth ever really get to know you? Maybe not. But there is someone who knows you intimately. In fact, He know you better than anyone does or could because He created you. He knows all your vital stats and even knows the number of hairs on your head. (Matt. 10:30.) He knew you before your even took a breath; in fact, he knit you together in your mother’s womb. (Ps. 139:13.) He doesn’t need to get to know you and get to like you. He knows all about you and, despite what He knows, He loves you.
Unfortunately, many profess to know God. They can relate information about Him (He created the world, He is a loving God, He is a part of the Trinity, etc.), but they don’t know Him. Why? Because they have never taken the time to get to know Him. They engage in “speed dating” by spending an hour at church on Sunday and then wondering why the relationship just isn’t all that fulfilling.
When it comes to a relationship with God, the King of Kings, advice from “The King And I” is appropriate. We only get to know Him through spending time with him day by day. We need to take the time to get to know all about Him.
JUST WONDER-ing: Can you really get to know someone without spending time with him/her? Are you likely to know more about someone the more time you spend with him/her?