Last week, I wrote about the meaning of intimacy. I think that the basic idea of it is establishing a connection with somebody that is based on trust, honesty, openness, and vulnerability. Being intimate, or personal with somebody can bring deep levels of satisfaction and is a key ingredient to the most important relationships. I believe that intimacy is vital in one’s relationship with God, oneself, one’s spouse, and selected others. So why is intimacy so important?
The thing is, you can never feel fully accepted by somebody if you never fully show yourself. Putting on a mask is necessary at times, but if you leave that mask on all of the time then nobody really knows you completely. And that just leaves you feeling lonely.
When it comes to your relationship with God, intimacy is more about you realizing that He knows everything about you than actually allowing Him to see you for who you are. No matter how much you try to hide, God still knows you inside and out. In fact, He even knows you better than you know yourself. That’s because He knows the details of your past that you’ve forgotten, the things in the present that you’re avoiding, and everything that will happen to you in the future as well. He knows you totally, completely, and 100%. But learning to accept that and acknowledge that is the key to a more fulfilling relationship with Him.
When you stop trying to hide from God, your relationship with Him becomes more intimate. You allow yourself to dwell in the fact that He loves you and accepts you for everything that you are. You speak to Him honestly and openly about everything. He becomes your best friend, your lover, and your confidant above anybody else in the world. And that is a beautiful and satisfying thing! In fact, I believe that it is the most satisfying thing you can ever do; developing intimacy with God is what every single one of us was made for.
Getting personal with yourself may seem like an oxymoron. But the truth is, I have a feeling that I’m not the only one who isn’t always honest with myself. I try to convince myself of untruths all of the time; it’s part of my sinful nature to not want to admit my own faults and shortcomings. I also have a bad habit of judging myself (which is probably why I don’t want to admit my faults!). You see, true intimacy with oneself means that you allow yourself to be who you are, warts and all, and you don’t judge yourself for it. Get in touch with your own feelings, thoughts, and personality and then realize that if God loves you for all of those things, then you can love yourself as well. Try to see yourself the way that God sees you; His beautiful, treasured creation. Get comfortable in your own skin! It’s the first step to developing intimacy with others.
Intimacy within a marriage is a no-brainer, I would think. And yet, it seems to me that there are countless marriages in which both parties are not completely open, honest, and vulnerable with each other, often because they don’t fully trust each other! Look, it’s pretty simple; you are ready to marry somebody when you are already emotionally, mentally, and spiritually intimate with them. Then, once you do get married, physical intimacy will come naturally and you will understand what God had in mind for marriage, and you can spend the rest of your life working to maintain that intimacy. People don’t just grow apart; they allow themselves to grow apart by slowly withdrawing and choosing not to share every part of themselves with their spouse. Refuse to let your intimacy fade, because your marriage depends on it!
Now, I’ve used the term “selected others” a few times now between last week and this week. So what does it mean? It’s pretty much what it sounds like— other people who you’ve carefully selected to share relational intimacy with. The key to this one is knowing how to select them. The fact of the matter is that bearing your soul to every person you come into contact with simply isn’t a great idea. As sad as it is, not everybody in the world is trustworthy. Choosing the people who you will be vulnerable, open, and honest with takes careful consideration. Whether they are family members, friends, or mentors, I would advise that you choose wisely who you will get really personal with. On the other hand, don’t be jaded! Allowing yourself to trust people is always a risk, but doing it anyway, especially when it’s a calculated risk, is the key to fulfilling relationships.
With other people besides God, yourself, and your spouse, intimacy is not usually (or really ever) a black and white thing. It’s not like something you can just turn on and off; it’s more of a system of levels. You decide how much you can trust each person you meet, and act based on that, obviously. My whole point with even addressing these people is that I have found it very important to allow yourself to put your walls down with at least some people outside of your three most intimate relationships (God, yourself, and your significant other). The truth is, you probably will never have relationships with other people that are as intimate as your relationships with these three, and perhaps that is even a good thing. But you should still try to develop deep levels of trust, honesty, openness, and vulnerability with selected others. I have found that the more I can be myself around others, the better I feel, and the better I am able to understand myself.
So there you have it— my views on intimacy, and why this weird little word is so important to living healthy, happy lives. I hope you got something out of this and that you can learn to be more intimate with the people in your life, especially God. He’s waiting for you!