My Facebook friend, Sue, is a sharp-witted and engaging person. We’ve known each other for a couple of years now, long enough for me to have forgotten the circuitous series of connections that brought us together electronically. We share similar ideologies, humour and an overall sense of sarcasm. One day we will meet and have a coffee together and actually chat face to face and get to know each other a bit better. For now, our Facebook friendship works very well.
It is, however, limiting. It’s hard to know a person very deeply through the limited medium any platform like Facebook or Twitter provides, so there’s always room for a surprise or two. Just today, for example, I was surprised to learn that Sue had been married for seven years. I only learned about it when her spouse posted a celebratory note. Up until then I thought they were sisters but obviously, I was totally wrong. Yes, thank-you, I know it’s not the first time…
In my defence, Sue isn’t the type to post lots of lovey-dovey date pictures of her and her mate. So, there’s the issue of Sue’s personal preference of what she reveals about herself. Then, and this is probably the bigger factor, there’s the fact that I am not the greatest detective in the world. There’s a reason I don’t read murder mysteries and figure out whodunnit well before the end. You could definitely say I make a better suspect that a sleuth.
Bottom line, thanks to the limitations of Facebook, Sue and I don’t know each other perfectly, but we’re still good friends despite those limitations.
But it’s not just Facebook that limits our knowledge of the “other”. Just today I learned a new and significant fact about Elizabeth, a friend and parishioner of mine, whom I’ve known for over twelve years. In fact, we’ve had coffee together on several occasions, so you’d think we’d have each other figured out pretty well by now. And you would be wrong. We are good friends, but even given the length of our friendship, there is more to discover.
That’s the wonder and mystery of being created in God’s image. The complex, layered variety of human beings reflects the complex, layered nature of our Creator. The discovery of those layers within our fellow God-reflecting human beings helps us to unravel the mystery and majesty of our Heavenly Creator. Indeed, as we learn more and more about others, whether it’s a friend only known through Facebook or one known in person, whether it’s someone you only ever see at rehearsals or a complete stranger you chat with while waiting in line at the coffee shop, you gain a deeper insight into their hearts and, through them, into the very heart of God.