Beware the Intimacy Impostors
More than success, ease, sex or excitement our souls yearn for intimacy.
That’s the way our God set it up. That’s why He woos us into relationship with Himself.
It’s also why He created marriage, family and the church. So that in intimate community with those who love us we might discover who we are and why we’re here.
Despite this, most of us would rather settle for – or even seek out – other relational needs instead. I call them intimacy impostors.
Unfortunately, even if we’re successful in getting these other relational needs met we come up empty, because intimacy impostors will never empower us to understand our true identity nor walk in our unique purpose.
Why would we do such a thing?
There are actually many reasons. Most of them are even logical. But none of them good. For starters, we talked last week about how dangerous pursuing intimacy can be. In addition, here are three analogies I pray will illuminate the battle that’s being waged over our souls as we endeavor, by God’s grace, to thrive in relationships with others.
Growing intimacy is like gardening.
Like a successful homegrown garden, growing thriving intimate relationships requires so many elements working together, many of which are entirely out of our control. Therefore success calls for a high level of commitment and intentionality.
This is why most people in our culture buy their fruits and veggies at the grocery store.
Like picking out pears in the produce aisle, intimacy impostors tend to be easy to attain. Indeed, one or more of them may seem like second nature to you; like they picked you out, instead of the other way around.
However, in the same way a homegrown tomato may look homely, but taste like heaven, authentic intimacy will give your life a fullness of flavor that’s worth the effort.
Learning intimacy is like learning a foreign language.
Basic principles will help you survive relationships in general, but intimacy requires relating personally to someone else’s world. Since every one of us is unique in our experiences and interpretations and responses to those experiences, learning intimacy requires more than selflessness. It calls for a depth of insight that takes time and patience to acquire.
In contrast, with intimacy impostors you need only figure out how to get your own needs (or desires) met by others. “Boom! Done! What’s next?”
That said, while the uniqueness of every intimate relationship you share makes each such a peculiar endeavor, it also makes each a precious gift.
Stepping into intimacy is like stepping into water… from the high dive.
You drink water, you bathe in water, you may have spent many Summers swimming in water. Even so, the first time you stand at the edge of the high dive it’s a whole different story. (Indeed, if you were born after 1990 it’s likely that you’ve never had the opportunity to jump off a high dive. Without a helmet anyway.)
Relationships are similar. You grow up with them, you live in them, but intimacy asks you to go further and deeper into relationship than most of us find comfortable. We’re talking about vulnerability.
Intimacy Impostors would never presume to ask for such exposure. In fact, many seek out or settle for their chosen intimacy impostor expressly to avoid exposing themselves to the risk which accompanies vulnerability.
But you know what they say, no pain, no intimacy. (Or something like that.) Actually, the reality is that if I insist on insulating myself from being hurt by others, I wind up hurting myself. I experience a different kind of pain; the lonely ache of isolation.
And if my own pain wasn’t enough, the isolation I use to protect myself, looks like rejection to everyone else. So I not only hurt myself, I unwittingly hurt everyone who cares about me.
Why do we avoid intimacy? Simple. Intimacy requires commitment, intentionality, selflessness, insight, time, and vulnerability. And for the most part, intimacy impostors require none of those things.
I show up at an early age… the earliest age, but I plague people of all ages.
I inspire people to:
- Make fools of themselves
- Dress and groom themselves in ways that stand out or show more skin
- Get in trouble
- Live for “likes,” “shares,” and “comments” on social media of posts and pics that are all about them
- Attempt suicide
People talk about me condescendingly; saying things like, “They’re just trying to get me,” or “All they want is me,” but in reality, everyone needs at least a little bit of me.
Who am I? (Feel free to guess in the comment section… unless you’ve heard the talks already and then you’d be cheating.)
[This is post is part of a series called Relation^ology (it begins with this post) where we identify the greatest relational need of our heart and then ID the counterfeits we seek out or settle for instead. Relation^ology started out as a discussion series and can be booked for your college, youth or young adults group (or singles group, life group, cell group, community group or whatever they’re calling Bible study these days).]
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The LoveEd study guide series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE YOU FALL IN LOVE! It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. Check out the first two 8-lesson study guides in our store. You can walk through it on your own, but it’s more fun with friends, so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study. Even better? And ask a married couple you respect to lead it!