He Knows is a short story describing the change that can occur in our hearts and minds when we have an encounter with someone who understands us (in a Christian sense this is of course, Jesus).
A good girl, but one who struggles with people around her, the subject of this story learns to deal with those around her more gracefully as she sees and appreciates that someone knows and understands her. Her friend (Jesus) is kind, but He seems to know her sufficiently well that she has not need to fight the people around her to the same extent. Being loved and accepted, she is in turn more able to love and accept the failings of others.
She took it in her stride as her sister bossed her around but bit her lip at the same time.
Seemingly oblivious to her own wishes, the girl cut the cloth and started sewing the dress for her younger sister to look good on the coming White Sunday. This was THE day of the year when the children could show off in church. This was their day – the day that the adults had to buy them the ice cream and listen to them sing in church – the whole service!
As the oldest daughter her mother had taught her to sew, when she was still at school. It came easy to her as she understood how things worked, shaping the material and sewing the pieces together was a natural thing for her.
Her sisters forever cut things the wrong way round with the pattern eventually upside down and the dresses ruined. Not so with her – she always got it right because she understood. She was careful and it had to be right every time. The others were so careless that it made her grumpy.
As a result she ended up doing all the work. In some ways she didn’t mind because she liked to serve others but many times she felt that it wasn’t fair that they could laugh and play and tease her and she had to do all the work.
After a while it came to her that it was just better to shut-up and not say anything. It didn’t achieve anything if she complained and it just made her bitter to think about it. One day, she thought, maybe she could let herself go free and do what she really wanted to do for herself, but that seemed so very selfish, so she just let it all go and did her job.
She didn’t really like the church thing. It was the right thing to do, to go to church because every body did it, but they were all so much of a show-off – best clothes, big smiles, greasing up to the Pastor, talking all the religious words (that she knew they didn’t even understand the half of) and fighting to get the best seat. It made her sick to be honest.
She said a few things to some of the people at times but that simply backfired when they ridiculed her after church so most of the time she just smiled and went along with it all.
“I really don’t know how to escape from it all but I know that’s only a selfish thing, isn’t it? She asked her new friend.
He asked her what she meant by that, “How’s that?” he asked.
“Well the bible tells us to love our enemies and it’s not very loving to run away from people we don’t like is it?”
She didn’t really know her friend very well so she was a little anxious to speak so honestly like this, but he had a peace about him that it seemed to be OK to talk like this.
“Doesn’t that depend on why we do something? Isn’t our attitude more important than our actions?” he asked her.
She stopped sewing for a minute and thought about this. What were her attitudes? She was a girl who understood things about the world all around her yet she struggled to know her own motives.
It was almost like she could see all the faults and problems in the world that nobody else could see and yet she couldn’t even work herself out and why she even went to church when she didn’t enjoy it!
Perhaps she had a problem because she didn’t enjoy church? Maybe it was that she was the problem and the church thing was normal?
Yet she knew that she knew that she was right. The people WERE selfish and mean and show-offs and all the rest . . . well most of them were anyway!
But perhaps her new friend was right . . . maybe her attitude was more important and that she was the problem. He reached over and held a piece of the cloth taut so that she could sew it straight without getting it all caught up.
“Thanks!” she said and sewed a little more.
She stopped, cocked her head and looked up at the ceiling.
“How do you know when you’re the problem or when the other person is the problem?” she asked.
Strangely, her friend didn’t answer her question.
She looked at him and he was smiling. She liked that! It was almost like he knew what she was going through. She cocked her head again and took a guess. “You know the answer don’t you?”
He smiled even more!
“But you never said anything. Why’s that?” she asked.
He was about to speak but took his time.
She pushed through in the gap and answered her own question. She wanted to be in control of the conversation, “It’s because you think I’m OK? Is that why?”
He leaned forward, looked directly into her eyes and smiled.
She blushed, for she was embarrassed that she even asked the question.
She looked down nervously at her sewing and changed the subject.
“Do you like the dress? I designed it for my younger sister for White Sunday!”
“It’s great!” the man said and she was suddenly lost for words. She was clearly out of her depth with a man who truly understood her and accepted her for who she was. This was altogether unsettling.
She wanted to take control of the conversation and yet everything she said seemed rather awkward and in a sense quite stupid, yet her friend seemed to be happy there just spending time with her as she was doing the sewing.
She stood up and held the partly finished dress up and showed it to him. “It’s nice!” he said at the same time as they both looked at the last piece she had just sewed in.
“Oh no!” she thought. “It’s upside down! How on earth could she have made such a basic mistake? This was just the sort of thing that her silly sisters would have done – not her!”
What’s worse is that her friend had surely noticed the mistake too. How embarrassing!
She sat down again and looked for the scissors to cut the faulty stitching and re-sew it into place. They weren’t where she thought she left them, but she raised her eyes just sufficient to see her friend handing them to her. She looked up at his face and again she could see that he knew and understood her.
What was it about this man that unsettled her? It was like he was a step or two ahead of her where ever she was going. Anyone else would have laughed at her and joked at her mistake and let her search for the scissors to fix her own mistake and yet he seemed to take it in his stride and nothing was a problem.
Maybe he too had had a hard life, being a square peg in a round hole like she was?
She took a big risk and broached the subject with him. “You knew I’d made a mistake but you never said anything. Why was that? My sisters would have laughed at me, that’s why I am careful to never make a mistake.”
“There was no need to say anything. We both knew that you needed the scissors to fix it, so I found them and gave them to you.”
So eminently practical and sensible this man was. And that was really refreshing having lived in a sea of stupidity all of her life.
They talked some more and walked down to the coast together.
“You know, I’ve really enjoyed your company this afternoon. When can I see you again?” she asked her new-found friend.
“Any time! It’s up to you!” he replied.
They parted company and she returned to the sewing machine. It wasn’t long before her sister was showing off in front of the whole family with her White Sunday best.
In times past she might have got agitated with her sister showing off about the dress that she had slaved over, but today it seemed right that her sister got the glory. Tomorrow in church she will pretend to be the queen with the nicest white dress in the church but that was now all OK. She designed and sewed a great dress and that’s all that mattered.
In some ways a peace had descended on her life. It was like she didn’t have to fight or struggle any more to understand things and to be in control.
She liked that!
Thinking back to the day before and the visit from her new friend, she realised that things were different. Whereas before she needed to know and understand everything, and to be in control, she didn’t any more.
“Why was that?” she asked herself.
“Is it because I know that somebody loves me, and knows me and understands me?” she wondered.
She thought back to the questions she asked of her friend yesterday and how he had simply smiled as she worked out the answers, and he knew that she knew she understood now too.
It’s almost like she could hear him saying, “You’re OK! Don’t worry, you’re OK!” and that there was no need to worry any more.
“What an amazing thing he gave me yesterday,” she thought. “It’s almost like he helped me to be me simply by smiling at me and trusting me!”
A big smile came over her face as she thought back to those times where she had tried so hard to make conversation and to understand things, but none of it seemed to matter any more! She knew who she was, that’s all that mattered, for the moment, anyway.
And the idea that He loved her and understood her was all that mattered. It was almost like she didn’t need to go find Him and chat with Him again as He seemed to be there with her all the time now.
And she knew instinctively that this was the truth.
No need to question it any more!
Now it was her turn to smile, and she did, a huge smile like a kitten that has just eaten a bowl of cream!
Life was now different and she loved it . . .