The gift of intimacy

I have been thinking a lot about intimacy lately.  Intimacy as defined as an exclusive sharing of our person with another.  There are levels of intimacy and different types of intimacy. The intimacy that I have been thinking about is the deepest types of intimacy where we share our deepest thoughts, rawest emotions, and our cherished possessions.  That type of intimacy builds a lifetime bond and ruins us forever from a diet of shallow and superficial relationships.  This is true in our platonic, romantic, and ultimately, our spiritual relationships.

The psalmist knew something when he challenged his community to "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8).  It is only by experiencing God that we know His goodness as opposed to simply knowing about His goodness.  As He shares His thoughts, His love, and His cherished possessions (everything in creation, and even more, His one and only Son) and we in return share our deepest thoughts, dreams, emotions, and possessions, we experience a type of intimacy that forms us, shapes us, and spoils us against the superficial.

Lately, I have been counseling quite a few married couples.  One of the most common complaints is the lack of intimacy.  He or she works too many hours, is too tired, or does not prioritize intimacy in the relationship.  The result is not simply frustration, but a deep anger.  An anger that simmers and is based upon a feeling of rejection, perceived lack of attractiveness, and the common misunderstanding that intimacy is a right, instead of a gift.

Intimacy is a gift.  (Say it to yourself at least three times so that it sinks in).  Intimacy is not a right.  When we demand intimacy from someone who does not desire to give it (for many reasons, most of which are very legitimate), it feels very violating.  In fact, one the extremes of this concept is the act of rape: the forced physical intimacy.  When intimacy is seen as a gift, instead of a right, we cherish the act of sharing as it was designed: a willing sharing of something deeply personal between people.  It is that mutuality that creates the bond.  When we give intimacy as a gift, instead of an obligation, the focus remains on the other and the sharing is more natural.  When we feel obligated to be intimate, even with a married partner, the emphasis is on what we are giving, instead of what they are receiving.

Even God has periods in which he seemed more distant to His people. (Psalm 44:24)   This happened often when His people take his presence and His love as a right, as opposed to a gift.  They began to demand that God fulfill his promises as opposed to thankfully accepting that God will.  Interestingly, God withdraws his intimacy when those who designated to receive it, no longer appreciate what is given.  It is a natural response, that humanity also inherited when we were made in His image.  (Hint, hint, if you are in a relational intimacy desert, it may be because you do not show appreciation for the other)

This is why our current culture has terrible sex lives.  We took that which is most precious to us (our bodies and our sexuality) and we share it with people who do not appreciate the greatness of the gift provided.  The result is a competitive pleasuring contest based upon my needs as opposed to a gift of intimacy that bonds us for life.  Ultimately, we get to a point when the sex, hollowed out by a lack of intimacy, has become the end, not the means.  The average person no longer knows the difference between true intimacy and sexual activity and that is tragic.

I want to challenge you today to reconsider how you see intimacy at any level. Whether it is your friends, your spouse, or God, do you see intimacy as a gift to be given and received, or a right to demanded and obliged?  Next time, you experience intimacy, be thankful for the tremendous gift that you have experienced.  Keep your sexuality as a means to express intimacy and not function of your desires.  If you are married, recommit yourself to giving intimacy (not just sex, but the sharing of deepest thoughts, feelings, dreams, fears, and  the physicality of who you are) as a gift.

May God bless you,

Pastor M Traylor