Tell Me About Yourself

By Rev. Jayme Babczak

“Tell me about yourself.” This is the number one most dreaded interview question that candidates for just about every job are asked. A relatively simple, open-ended question – “tell me about yourself” – ends up causing a lot of stress and anxiety for most job candidates. This doesn’t just go for job interviews – it’s the same dreaded question someone might be asked on a first date or when meeting a new friend for the first time.

Why is it so hard to tell someone or a group of people about ourselves – we should know ourselves pretty well, right? In fact, shouldn’t we know ourselves better than anyone else?

The safe way to answer this question is to stick to the facts – things that can be proven to be true about you. My name is Jayme Christine Babczak – yep, it says that on my birth certificate. I am 5’9’’ tall. I grew up in Shillington, Pennsylvania. I went to this school & I graduated with this degree. I have this many siblings. I have done these volunteer activities. These are things I can prove to be true.

These facts don’t really allow the person or people interviewing you to get to KNOW you. Sure, you have helped them learn a few facts about you… but they want to KNOW you better. Tell them more about yourself. But this is where it gets hard. You have to look beyond the foolproof facts and invite people to get to know you through your passions, your experiences, your successes and your failures.

It all sounds a bit intimate – vulnerable. Especially after 15 months of social distancing… we’ve not flexed our “getting to know you” muscles for quite some time.

Today’s Psalm pushes us maybe beyond our comfort zone in discussing the relationship between God and humanity as a quite intimate one. Psalm 139 is a relatively familiar and powerful text – one that lays claim to who we are as beloved children of God. How we are known by God – beyond the surface, beyond the superficial. God knows us and claims us as God’s own.

African American Scholar Anne E. Streaty-Wimberly provides some context about Psalm 139 – She says this - “We do not know if Psalm 139 stemmed from the psalmist’s personal situation of distress or accusation, or from the community’s need for assurance in the aftermath of exile. Whatever the case, the 139th Psalm reveals an account of what may be called “an encounter of the closest kind” with God. The psalm details an intimate conversation with God in which the psalmist is speaker and God is listener. The psalmist focuses quickly in verses 1-2 on the word, “know(n).” This key reference points to the psalmist’s relating to God the experience of not simply being recognized and acknowledged by God, but of belonging inseparably to God. Howard Thurman describes this sort of being known by God as being laid bare, or stripped of the facade. In this knowing, the psalmist references the self as being seen at the deepest center, or at the very core. Indeed, verses 1-4 express clearly that all that is thought and done are exposed in the presence of God. God is experienced as a wholly intimate and all-knowing presence.”

To be known by God is to be loved by God. To be known by God is to belong to God.

We are known, we belong, and we will never be alone.

All of God’s children are known, all belong, none will ever be alone. Take a moment to soak that in.

We are 2/3 of the way through the month of June – and as you likely know by now, June is pride month. Pride month is dedicated to the uplifting of LGBTQ voices, celebration of LGBTQ culture and the support of LGBTQ rights.

Leigh Finke, a trans woman and advocate for queer youth recently published a book that is intended to be a guide for LGBTQ+ Teens who identify as Christian. The book is titled “Queerfully and Wonderfully Made” – a spin of verse 14 in the psalm we engage today. Early on in her text, Leigh responds to the question “Can I be queer and Christian”? Without pause, she answers yes. And goes on to expound upon this point – “God loves you – and that includes your queerness. God loves you not in spite of, but because of, who you are. There is no contradiction between being queer and having a relationship with God. {…}

If your home environment, church teaching, or faith community is of the kind that claims you cannot, in fact, be queer and Christian at the same time, here are two things to keep in mind: 1) God made you to be exactly who you are. Your queerness is not an accident or a mistake. The Bible sayw you are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ – or as we like to say, you are queerfully and wonderfully made – God is the one who made you queer. Let no one convince you otherwise.”

To be known by God is to be loved by God. To be known by God is to belong to God.

We are known, we belong, and we will never be alone. All of God’s children are known, all belong, none will ever be alone. This affirmation that all of humanity is known by and belongs to God is at the core of Psalm 139.

Psalm 139 makes clear that sacred worth is assigned to all, not just to some. It makes clear that one’s belovedness is not up for debate. Our identity is inextricably linked to the identity of God. God affirms and celebrates us in our fullness – because God really knows us. God formed us into the beautiful creations we are. And God journeys with us, always.

SO… If we were to be asked that dreaded get to know you question with psalm 139 in mind, maybe our response would expand to include that which we are told by God. “Tell us about yourself”. A response could go something like this…

I am known fully by God – and so are you.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made – and so are you.

I am never alone – and neither are you.

May it be so. Amen.

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