The Beatles sang “Money can’t buy me love,” but it turns out that’s not true. You can use your money to invest in deeper love and connection. Although great relationships usually aren’t started with money in mind, once you’re in a relationship, you can use your dough to gain richer, deeper connection with the people you love.
Our smartphones have deceived us into thinking we’re always connecting with the people in our lives. As a culture, we are starting to see that iMessages, tweets, and posts rarely leave us with the one thing we crave: the feeling of being known. The last school shooting helped me to see another heartbreaking story underneath many of the tragedies we’ve mourned as a nation: the story of someone who never felt known.
“Being known” is something we all seek in every attempt to enter a loving relationship or a true friendship. We’re constantly driven to find someone who can really see and understand the most basic pieces of who we are. When this happens, we get the feeling of being known, and it’s powerful. It changes how we feel about our future. Put simply, being known is a powerful precondition for both love and hope.
On my 40th birthday, I found out firsthand how powerful it is to be known, and the people in my life used their money to show me. My husband and a couple of close friends got together and planned a day that now ranks in the Top Five Days of my adult life. It was entirely about feeling known. Money was the tool they used for an outcome that was priceless: this day changed how I think about the love of God. (And you could do this in one of your relationships with $5.00, today.)
Here’s a list of some of the things that money was used for on my 40th birthday. Some things cost a lot. Some cost very little. The amount doesn’t matter. Each made me feel seen, known and loved.
- Beer mugs. Someone knew that age 39 was the year I finally began to like beer (nope, not even in college).
- An off-the-shoulder dress. Someone knew how out of style I felt because I didn’t have anything off-the-shoulder for spring (it was all the rage).
- A new water bottle with the word “Pure” down the side. Someone knew I’d been drinking a gallon of water every day, and I felt refreshed in body and spirit because of it.
- Two novels from my favorite genre. Someone knew my classes had been tough that semester, and I was looking forward to reading books just for pleasure over the summer.
- A coral striped beach towel. Someone knew my favorite color past the age of seven when you ask each other all the time.
- A small group of friends to celebrate my big day. Someone knew I’m not a big party kind of gal. I just love being with my special few.
- A box of letters from over 30 people from my past (family, friends, neighbors, colleagues)Someone knew all my past people! And that means they’d listened to my stories!
- Salmon for lunch and an afternoon massage. Someone just knew some of my favorite things.
My friends and husband used their money to demonstrate that they had SEEN ME. So many of my preferences, intricacies, and quirks were part of the day, like the fact that I only like beer I can squeeze oranges into. They remembered conversations that we had. They knew my favorite things. They paid attention to my stress or the moments when I hadn’t felt beautiful. But the investment they made wasn’t really financial; they bought something else. They bought me deeper connection to them and a stronger confidence in their love. Their money didn’t really buy gifts; it bought me the knowledge that I was being seen, known, and loved. And they did it just by using their money to acknowledge some of the little things that make me, me.
Any one of these things would have been enough to experience being known, but my 40th birthday overwhelmed me into something bigger. Somehow, on May 15, 2017, money bought me the experiential knowledge that I’m seen and known by a loving God. Years ago, I’d memorized this favorite passage from the Bible, but the way people used their money on my 40th birthday finally taught it to my heart.
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Psalm 139:1–6