By Joanne Highley
Looking at the dictionary, we see “intimacy” defined as close, familiar and usually affectionate or loving, personal relationships with another person or group. A quality or expression of familiarity, affection, love or passion. A sexually familiar act. The quality of affecting someone in a comfortably friendly or personally pleasing way. Privacy, especially the atmosphere of privacy suitable to the telling of a secret.
As we look at these aspects of intimacy, there are two distinct meanings shown: one being that of a close, familiar, loving personal relationship where love and affection are expressed. One is treated in a friendly, comforting and pleasing manner and there is privacy suitable to telling a secret. Secondly, there is a sexually familiar act. This delineation certainly stirs a lot of thought as to the deep dysfunction inherent in our society today regarding intimacy.
Obviously, if one thinks only in terms of the sexual when intimacy is approached, the foundation of intimacy is missed. The foundation must rest on the relationship of sharing one’s deepest desires, dreams, hopes, fears, hurts and affection in an atmosphere of privacy and trust. Then if the sexual is upheld by this foundation in an appropriate godly committed marriage, there is joy, delight and edification. The family is built and society is stable. If the sexual tries to stand without this foundation, everything crumbles.
Today, because of the erosion of the family and home as a place of intimacy, the deep need for that kind of relationship has been twisted into neediness—a reaching for any substitute for intimacy to make the ache for it satisfied.
Therefore, the most accessible, quickest and most intense counterfeit for intimacy becomes the sexual connection. It feels intimate. There are similar settings, two people alone, parts of the body generally not seen or touched are made visible and accessible, and words are exchanged that mimic love and personally shared relationships. But there have been enormous leaps past the bounds of reality in order to jump into this act. Making those leaps past the truths of how one should gain true intimacy and with whom one should be intimate, leaves the person in a worse state. No true intimacy is built and the capacity for true intimacy now becomes less because of the drive for the intensity of the sex act. More and more people are looked at sexually rather than lovingly, personally and honestly. Increasingly, we are willing to change our own identity, concepts and basic knowledge of truth to enter the unreal world of sex without intimacy. What a deep loss we suffer by doing this! We become driven to look at body parts, pornography, peep shows and filth to try to satiate the insatiable desire driven by the sexual without true intimacy. It is a hellish trap to keep us compulsively seeking and never finding.
Let’s look at the roots of this problem. If we were born in a home where affection and appreciation of each other is not expressed, where there is no respect or caring nurture to allow you to feel free to express your innermost thoughts, hopes, dreams, hurts, disappointments; if what means most to you is treated with disdain or lack of sharing, your heartfelt emotions will become more closed and you become unable to trust anyone with what really matters to you. Or, if you have suffered verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, then a wall of fear and protection comes up to keep you from feeling, while trying to survive. The emotions go deeper inside and you go inside as well. The true feelings about your hopes, dreams hurt all get locked in. That is when the mind turns off to these painful, unshared emotions. The deep need for what family should provide—a warm, loving personal relationship of privacy and protection where you can feel free to be open, to cry, to laugh, to rebel, to think out loud, to love and to be loved is not filled. Rather, these feelings are choked down and a feeble attempt to address all this lack by a quick sexual connection leaves one, after orgasm, with the same lack now complicated by the addictive desire for an intensely pleasurable but momentary act which requires a lack of intimacy to accomplish. Such a trap!
The way to open these areas of honest, warm, loving personal relationships so the problem of lack of intimacy can truly be addressed is first to see the illicit sex as the problem and not the answer. If we turn from the sex act and the people and places we go for these acts, then we can begin a glorious uncovering of our true feelings. That, of course, involves the use of a journal, a daily record of our feelings, our hurts, our twisted concepts, our false motivations, our ungodly reactions to pain. Then there is need for a trusted friend, counselor or pastor to share these feelings with, so the habit of becoming truly intimate can be established. Most of all, we need to cultivate the habit of asking God what He thinks about our inmost feelings and heartfelt desires and dreams and putting those feelings and desires down on paper. As we share these things with God and He speaks to us then we come to the real answer to addiction—true intimacy with God.
As we learn to open these long-closed areas of our deepest dreams, hopes, hurts and ugly reactions to pain, we hit old ways of dealing which block our way. The wall of numbness must never be acccepted as permanent. Tell God you want it torn down—there is no longer a need for it. Stand against the trauma of abuse. You don’t have to relive that trauma, but take God into it to calm and heal the wounds. Don’t make peace with dysfunction. Fight against it and win! Don’t be afraid of your baby steps into intimacy. It’s the only way to begin to walk in it. Pray against it, sit and state that you choose to tear down the wall. Pray against survival and choose abundant life which involves being open and vulnerable. The fear of intimacy only means you don’t trust anyone with your inmost thoughts. That also will go as you believe you can trust and it is worth the risk to pray for God’s strengthening to help you open in the face of fear. As you push against the fear and trust God, you will be able, through practice, to be intimate.
We were all created for intimacy. It is God’s design and creative purpose because it is true love to share and care about someone in a deep and meaningful way, to reach out in trust and find someone reaching out for you in ways that will be sensitive, caring and edifying. Can’t we all see how the quick sex is such a joke when it comes to truly caring about someone. We are willing to compromise our beliefs, our identities, our true feelings for a few moments of unreality that continues the very harmful habit of avoiding what we truly believe and feel, further compromising our chances for true intimacy.
The Lord desires truth in the inner parts, wisdom in the inmost place. (Psalm 51:6) Only when we clean out the lies we put in our inmost place and put in the truth of God to heal, restore and open, can we find that long-desired intimacy. Whenever you think of intimacy in future, we pray these concepts will be your guide—not the quick fix of the readily accessible sex, but the marvelous journey into open and vulnerable sharing of your inmost feelings with people who are trustworthy, godly friends and finally with a mate to build a home that will glorify our Father in heaven and bless this world with godly offspring.