So I posted this question on facebook, and I got my first response within seconds, and it was something like this: deearry, deary, dear. Which was later clarified as the facebook equivalent of a sigh.
And the lack of an answer. It would be easy leave it at that, leave the question of whether women are too mysterious as, well, as one of life’s mysteries. But it’s a question which I’m not going to ignore, particularly since reading this blog over at the Guide to Women blog. And yes, I have been reading some interesting blogs over the past few weeks. Partly to know what other people are saying, partly to see what the current hot topics in the world of Christian relationships are, and just a little bit because I could do with a guide to women.
To paraphrase that post for those of you not heading over there to read it, it goes something like this: women act all mysterious to pretend there is actually something interesting about them. Women who are worth the bother don’t need to try and hide anything. But go and read the post and see if I’ve been too unkind.
But lets take a step back and think about why we want to remove mystery.
Is it that we want to know someone, or perhaps know stuff about them, or maybe we are just curious? Or is it that we find we have a need for certainty in who someone else is because we are unsure of who we are?
To the first question, it might help if we switch to French, they have two words for knowing. You can know information and you can know people. I’ve thought before that the way we talk about our relationships sometimes confuses the two. Via the wonders of facebook you can learn plenty of facts about a person, you can follow their life. But that is not the same as having a relationship with them, there is no feedback, no conflict, just you and your thoughts imagining something that doesn’t exist. You can live without mystery but only by crafting your own mythical storyline.
When you meet someone, and talk to them, and listen to what they have to say you begin to get to know them in a completely different sense. It can be so much more than you imagined, or so much less than you concocted. It can be the point when the myth is debunked and the mystery embraced.
After all, what is wrong with a little bit of mystery? Is it just our desire to have answers to all the questions, to have everything nailed down. With our relationship with God we might do just the same, substitute theological knowledge about God for the real hard work of building a relationship. And with God we get another glance at this thing called mystery. We get to see that we will not ever know it all.
When we want to know it all we are putting ourselves in the driving seat. We are insisting that unless we have the answers and know how everything fits together then we won’t play ball. Except that’s just not how life works.
I want to get to know one person above all others, I want them to be honest to me and not hide behind a false personna. But I am under no illusion that I would ever banish all mystery. Perhaps when we want to do that we are just showing how little confidence we have in who we are. Showing that we need affirmation from other people, and security in gaining understanding, and certainty in the removal of all doubt.
But doubt doesn’t go away. And nor does mystery, so maybe we are better off embracing it than worrying about it getting in the way. But what on earth does embracing mystery mean?