Thoughts on intimacy:
- I crave intimacy. I suspect we all do. Existence is very lonely without intimacy – not just in this life, but imagine eternity without intimacy.
- It is impossible to be intimate with another person if you have not first learned to be intimate with yourself. In this case, intimacy and honesty can be considered to be synonymous.
- Very few people are confident enough, comfortable enough in their own skin, to engage in true intimacy with themselves, much less with another person.
- Intimacy cannot co-exist with fear. If you fear, if you have secrets, you hold back. You cannot be intimate. Even worse, your deepest, most important thoughts – the thoughts that really mean something – are never shared. They just stew in the black cauldron of fear that you have created for yourself – feeding on themselves. It’s like intellectual, emotional, and spiritual in-breeding.
- This fear, which chokes off intimacy, may seem to manifest as fear of the other person, but ultimately it is fear of yourself. Therefore, as suggested above, you must learn to trust yourself before you can trust another person. Personal integrity, then, is essential.
- Intimacy goes both ways. If one person is willing; if one person is free enough (not fearful) for intimacy, but the other is not, then intimacy will not flourish. As a result, there may be levels of intimacy between people, but what is not intimacy is separation. Separation is a lack of intimacy.
- Forcing intimacy on another person is never an act of love.
- Intimate relationships focus equally on giving and receiving, but never taking. Giving and receiving must flow freely, with no accounting. Love, gratitude, appreciation, empathy – all are characteristics of a self-sustaining intimate relationship. Taking always involves manipulation and control. It is never acceptable.
- For many of us, our most intimate relationship is with God. We typically believe that it is fruitless to withhold secrets from God. That’s a good start. Our intimacy with God promotes intimacy with ourselves. Thus, prayer, or communion with God, is a powerful thing if for no other reason than this.
- God craves intimacy, too. God is always ready – but will never force.
- Having no secrets, though, doesn’t mean there is no fear. When we have no secrets, but we still have fear, we tend to have guilt. We seek “salvation”. We “repent”. We seek forgiveness. Again, this is a good start, but this is not truly an intimate relationship because it is so one-sided, and because intimacy cannot co-exist with fear. At some point, if we are to be truly intimate with God, we must lose any semblance of fear, and seek oneness – without guilt, without accounting – giving and receiving freely. Anything else is separation, and is not unity; is not intimacy.
- Intimate relationships, whether they be with ourselves, family, friends, or God, must be nurtured. Love, gratitude, appreciation, and empathy must be encouraged. Control and manipulation can have no place, for they foster fear. Comparison and competition can have no place, for they invite contention and control.
- Fostering trust is paramount in an intimate relationship. This is not only trust, as in honesty or integrity, but trust that one can be vulnerable without being mocked; that one can make mistakes without being punished (in any way – and we humans are soooo good at punishing on the sly). Each party in an intimate relationship must feel free to be themselves. They must feel free to be imperfect – because for those who seek truth, imperfection is actually part of our perfection. That each is doing their best in all circumstances must never come into question.
These thoughts came to me today as I pondered a relationship with someone with whom I would love to be intimate (not sexually), but with whom there is so much history of fear on both sides that intimacy may well be impossible. As I pondered, I realized that, while intimacy must work both ways if it is to perpetuate, I must overcome my own roadblocks regardless of the other person’s willingness or ability. I must be willing to invite and welcome intimacy. I can harbor no secrets out of fear – of my own reaction or of theirs. I must never question that the other person is doing their best. I must never even sniff at a desire for justice, or punishment…I must not even entertain offense. I cannot compare myself to them, or them to me – in any way – because comparison destroys equality. In short, I must accept the other person for who they are – now.
I must extend to them…Grace.
It doesn’t matter if the other person reciprocates – as not everyone is prepared for intimacy with themselves, much less with someone else.
No, all that matters is what is in my heart. For the burden of fear is great, and it can only be relieved when we are willing to lay it down.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Luke 10:29-30”
If you haven’t figured it out yet, intimacy is synonymous with oneness, for which Jesus pleaded in his great prayer in John 17. Intimacy is the result of – a manifestation of – love, charity…the pure love of Christ. Intimacy is the opposite of separation. Intimacy is the key to bringing about the unity that we all claim to seek, but which we secretly fear. Inviting intimacy is to defeat the natural man – the ego. The willingness and ability to invite, initiate, nurture, sustain, and cherish intimacy is the essence of Jesus’s teachings. It is the ultimate manifestation of Christ, the Christ consciousness, even the true nature of Christ. Extended to the fullest extent of its manifestation, realizing and cherishing this ability is the gospel, the good news. If you do this, you shall have eternal life.
Jesus, as He walked the earth, invited intimacy with all. He made Himself available, without fear, to all who would receive, but He did not, and He will not, force that intimacy beyond one’s capacity to receive.
To believe in Christ is to accept that invitation.
To know Christ is to nurture that intimacy; to give and receive with Christ without accounting.
To follow Christ is to extend that invitation, first to ourselves and then to all others – by walking in His footsteps.
To love Christ is to initiate, nurture, sustain, and cherish intimacy with all who are willing to give and receive…