“Once she knows me, once she really sees me for who I am, I am afraid she will no longer love me.”
His vulnerability and courage filled the space. And we let it hang there.
He had named it – the nagging, cut-to-the-core, deep-down worry and fear: Am I loveable?
We have all asked that question before. In the quiet, in the deep and dark moments, we have wondered. We have questioned. We have struggled. We have doubted.
Am I worth it?
Am I loveable?
Do I belong?
Am I good enough?
Am I _____ (you fill in the blank)?
We want to be known and loved. Accepted. This is, perhaps, our deepest desire.
Psychologist Solomon Asch conducted a classic experiment in 1951. Asch created a “line judgment” task that depicted pictures of various line sizes and asked participants to state which line best matched the target line shown in the picture. The correct answer was always obvious. Asch had about 7 participants each time, 6 of whom were confederates; there was only one real participant. The confederates all agreed in advance what their wrong response would be, but the real participant was unaware of this, believing the others in the room were actual participants as well. The real participant sat at the end of the row, and always gave his answer last. One third of the time, participants went along with the confederates and gave the wrong answer. Why? They were fearful of being ridiculed or thought “peculiar.” They wanted to belong.
I replicate Asch’s line judgment task when I teach General Psychology. Like Asch – except sixty years later - I find that many of my college students would rather give a wrong answer than deviate from the group.
We all want to belong. We want so desperately to be accepted – to be loved – that at times we give up some of ourselves. We conform, against our better judgment. Or remain silent. Or betray a core value or belief. We would rather be loved than known.
This comes at a cost. When we give up our voice, we miss opportunities for genuine exchange and intimacy. We miss out on deep connection.
So may we be brave and bold, knowing fear and doubt is universal. And normal. And may we rest in the deep assurance that someone bigger than us knows us and loves us deeply.
"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of His Spirit, washed in His love."