I would like to hear what you think about my new word: intimacity. (Actually, the word is googlable, but they usually mean intimacy.) I am working with it this way: intimacity is our capacity for being intimate.

During the Advent retreat, I had a moment of clarity on the prayer walk I was assigned to complete. I realized that I and the others I had been talking to were all struggling with getting to the place where we could connect. Most of us were relatively obsessed with it – clinging to life rafts of intimacy (even if they gave us splinters), chafing under the bits of our loneliness, restlessly scanning our horizons looking for moments when we might feel together, touched, or at least relevant. But one of the missing factors in our equations of connection was our own intimacity.

We need intimacy with God and others to stay in the process of growth. But intimacy is exactly what is broken between us. And we never seem to know why. At least I am often a bit foggy on just how I operate. I think we all have a tendency to think all our relationships just mysteriously happened. We might be a bit in denial about what we bring to the situation – namely our capacity for intimacy, or intimacity. Our ability (or usually lack of same) needs to be named. We need to develop.

If we ever get to figuring out what’s wrong or undeveloped with our intimacity, we often spend a lot of time and energy starting at the wrong place: with other people. We lay awake nights wondering why they broke up with us. We minutely (and often wrongly) list what is wrong with us, based on off-hand comments and body language. We dissect the lacks of our parents and how we adapted to them detrimentally. We flood our therapists with stories (thank God for Circle Counseling!) about how we are stuck and stumbling. But our broken relationships with other people are often symptoms of a core issue: our intimacity in relation to God.

During Advent, we get another chance to see God’s great intimacity. God, who is so totally other than us, becomes so totally one with us – in our bodies, in our sorrow and sickness, in our unforgivenness and death! All the tender feelings we feel when we see Mary holding the baby should seem as amazing as they are – God just came out of her womb, vulnerable, open to the mother/father love he IS. The beginning of my own intimacity starts with reconnecting with the source of it. Trying to get there through endless attempts at human relationship repair is kind of backwards.

But I, and probably you, do quite a few things backwards. Just in our small group during the Advent retreat (which was actually rather intimate, even though we’d mostly just met), we all demonstrated our fear of being vulnerable. I know that the whole experience got me pondering how easy it is for me to resist the impending experience of lack of connection rather than resisting what I do to help create it. I am working on seeing my withdrawals and avoidances as sins against the call of the baby Jesus to be trustingly vulnerable.

We can share the Lords ability. Once he was born of the flesh. But what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Post-resurrection, our intimacity with God is even greater. The more we open ourselves to that Spirit-to-spirit relationship, discipline ourselves to receive the love, repent of the sin that has tangled up our relationship with God so far (mainly not being open and receiving), we have a chance to relax enough to explore how we can connect with all the people we would love to love, and would love to love us.

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4 thoughts on “Intimacity

  1. “Intimacity” – I like it. My eyes skimmed over the word too quickly at first and I thought I had read the word as “Intimacy” , so I had to pause to read it again and sound it out, outloud, to ponder it. I’m interested that you apply the word as “our capacity for being intimate” plurally, in this post more than singularly “my intimacity”, or “your intimacity”. I think you hit on the way that God mainly is aiming to build that intimacity in and among us, it’s just plain sense that this is something that takes encounter with God and others to build together. Intimacious , Rod!

  2. “… open to the mother/father love he IS.” I liked this line a lot. How humble. How amazing, indeed.

  3. Thank you for this! I’m sure I’ll read it again and again… cause I too am grasping for true intimacy with God. I never really look at my own intimacity. Today I had the urge to buy my very own Nativity scene for my apartment and told my sister that I felt like the Mary figurine shouldn’t be holding the baby Jesus. That he should be laying in hay. She reminded me how insensitive that would be and how if I were Mary how much I would have wanted to cuddle with my newborn baby. Perhaps this is reflective of how I have trouble being intimate with Jesus? I would rather let him lay in the hay then cuddle the God of the universe up in my arms. How amazing that must have felt for her? How do I get to the point where I feel worthy enough to be that intimate with God? hmmmm…

  4. I have really been getting a lot from your blog lately Rod, but this one is really great. I have been thinking recently about a part of the Benner books where he says something to the effect that the journey to knowing God requires that we come to know ourselves. Without a self, where can develop honest intimacy or intimacity.

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