Monday, March 21, 2016

On Being Intimate ~ and the $40 Giveaway!



Intimacy.

'Being intimate' is often used as a rather demure code phrase for making love.  But deepest intimacy involves so much more than bodies intertwined in the most all-encompassing passionate abandonment. 

For truest intimacy invites, even subtly demands, a connection that's far deeper, wider, and stronger than the sexual could ever be.

Intimacy begs a soul level intersection, a course of continual interactions, a gently compelling dance, a powerful flow that leaves its mark at the deepest parts of who we are.  It comes to call in the depth of relationship where all bets are off, where we are most free to be fully authentically alive, without thought to filters or shoulds, inhibitions or propriety.

To be truly intimate with another soul invites a freedom that many desire, but few encounter, this the bonding of two hearts that soar united, strengthened, enabled to be the best they could ever hope to be this side of heaven.

This level of intimacy, this sacred dance, impacts a marriage at its core.

Henri Nouwen described it best ...

Intimacy between people requires closeness as well as distance. It is like dancing. Sometimes we are very close, touching each other or holding each other; sometimes we move away from each other and let the space between us become an area where we can freely move.

To keep the right balance between closeness and distance requires hard work, especially since the needs of the partners may be quite different at a given moment. One might desire closeness while the other wants distance. One might want to be held while the other looks for independence. A perfect balance seldom occurs, but the honest and open search for that balance can give birth to a beautiful dance, worthy to behold.




Along the way, marriage's exquisite gift of sexual expression can morph and change for a whole host of reasons.  Medication's side effects, aging, disability, crisis, illness, childhood abuse, menopause, or physical absence can alter how spouses respond to one another in physical intimacy, a fact of life that most couples will have to grapple with {and yes, oh-so-gently, sensitively navigate} sooner or later.

But that doesn't mean the party's over.

For we are able to choose to cultivate an even truer intimacy, a sacred companionship that has the ability to bond spouses together at an unforeseen level, impacting every aspect of their life together.

This deeply spiritual exchange of soul love can offer the greatest of delights and the deepest of satisfactions to marriage.  It can strengthen the core of a couple's identity and provide a sense of safety, security, and belonging.

Yet, the most lasting of intimacies ultimately begins in one's own individual heart.

This occurs as we choose to cultivate our own personal relationship with God, coming to the Lover of our souls just as we are, no holds barred.  Slowly, we learn to be totally ourselves and completely abandoned in His presence, knowing that His love for us is endless and nurturing, powerful and life changing.

We learn to feel safe as He warmly cradles us in His arms of grace.  As we drink in more and more of who He is, we revel and rejoice in that sacred loving care that satiates our endless neediness and heals our gaping woundedness.

As we continue on this satisfying pathway of awesome connection to our Heavenly Savior, the way we live our lives changes.  

Radically.  

Our spiritual wells overflow with living water that's compelling to all who find themselves within its reach and we become life-giving streams, swept along by His constant nurturance, His steady grace.

And it's from that extraordinary place that we are able to offer the gift of deepest intimacy to our spouses.  

For we don't come desperately needy or overwhelmingly incomplete anymore because we've experienced what it's like to be loved thoroughly, like we always longed for, at a miraculously subterranean level that no human being could ever touch.  Sweetly, continually, fully, satisfyingly loved.

The more head-over-heels in love we are with a Holy God, the more peacefully comfortable we become in our own skin.  And that serene beauty can't help but be noticed by the one we pledged our earthly 'for better, for worse' to.  And living out our own joyful miracle can only invite them, too, into a haven of greater intimacy with God.

And, yes, with us.


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52 comments:

  1. "For we don't come desperately needy or overwhelmingly incomplete anymore because we've experienced what it's like to be loved thoroughly, like we always longed for, at a miraculously subterranean level that no human being could ever touch. " There is so much truth in this statement, Linda! Well, in this whole post. :) May we all know the love of God in the most intimate way possible, and pass it along from a full well.

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    1. Yes, let's hear it for full overflowing wells, Lisa. They turn out to be superb relationship savers, don't they ...

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  2. Sometimes it is just so hard getting people to understand intimacy is much more than physical. A lack of any type seriously hinders the marriage.

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more, Bill. Where there's no intimacy to be found, the marriage is running on empty.

      Very empty.

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  3. Linda,
    This is absolutely beautiful! A "must save" for repeat reference. Marriage truly is a sacred dance (as a dancer in my younger years, I think this is a very apt metaphor). Learning to dance with another takes, time, patience, practice, and more patience :) As we age...we learn different rhythms, but always working together. Thank you for these wonderful words and truth you've shared!
    May you have a blessed Easter!
    Bev xx

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    1. I love that you've brought a dancer's heart to the conversation, Bev! As someone who possesses a couple of left feet, let me tell you how I admire a dancer's grace, her instinctual rhythm, her oneness with music.

      Lovely. Lovely.

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  4. Your words create a beautiful picture of an intimate dance that is mesmerizing to the point we cannot pull our eyes away. Your word pictures touched me today but not as much as the reminder that it all starts with being head over heels in love with God. Thank you for this amazing offering of words today.

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    1. Dear Mary ... our primary, most vital relationship has nothing to do with marital status, does it. It's all about the love between Christ and His bride.

      Thank you for being here, for adding so much to the subject at hand. Always. Always!

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  5. Yes, God needs to be the centre of every marriage (and any other relationship)! Have a beautiful day, Linda! Thank you for your words!

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    1. For sure, Jandi. Right the middle, yet right up front. Right where He belongs!

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  6. Linda this is beautiful and so are the waterfalls. Yes, intimacy is so much more than sex. I love how after 46 years of marriage I've seen everything you wrote about. The more intimate I become with my Savior the more intimate my marriage becomes. It's beautiful. Thank you for this beautiful story of truth.

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    1. And this you said -->'The more intimate I become with my Savior the more intimate my marriage becomes.'

      No truer words were spoken, Deborah. He alone is the source of all things beautiful and radiant, strong and wonderful ...

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  7. I love how God takes the most explosive, the most intimate, the most radically intense images in His creation and transforms them into metaphors for our union with Him. Or should I say . . . He had in His mind what our union with Him should be like, and THEN created us to image it forth in some gritty and picturesque ways.

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    1. You've brought a great big heaping helping of wisdom to the table, Michele ... and what else is new! I love that you're in community here with us ... thank you for adding to the dialogue.

      I feel like it's an important one ...

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  8. Intimacy, in any respect, is very hard for me, because in-person I am one of the most guarded and wary people on the planet. A bit of that is nature; most comes from experience.

    Intimacy with God is something I envy, but I've never had it. I'm constantly aware of His presence, even in the worst times, but there is not 'loving embrace'; instead it is a stiffening of backbone, and the communication that having won it all 2000 years ago, I have nothing to lose.

    One thing...the concept of falling in love with Jesus is a place I can't go; for me he is unavoidably masculine, and dudes just do NOT fall in love with other dudes. Respect, yes; and there is a sort of friendship as can exist between different ranks.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2016/03/your-dying-spouse-132-me-and-jesus.html

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    1. I hear you, Andrew. We all do our faith with Christ in ways that are suited to our personality! That you are constantly aware of His presence surely speaks to the Holy Spirit being at home in your soul.

      I truly believe that.

      And I'm sure that you're not the only dude that would feel a little weird with the whole 'falling in love with Jesus.' You're in good company. The respect you speak of is certainly biblical ... and well spoken.

      You always add to the dialogue around here. You know I'm appreciative ... as are the others that join us in conversation. Iron sharpens iron, man ...

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  9. Linda, this phrase of yours hits home for me: "The more head-over-heels in love we are with a Holy God, the more peacefully comfortable we become in our own skin." ~ And, the more I believe this Holy God is head-over-heels in love with me, the more confidence I have to be fully me. Lovely article, Linda. Thanks for sharing. ((xoxo))

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    1. Amen, Brenda. The stronger our belief gets, the more we lean into who God is in relationship to us, the more we see ourselves as He does. And that, for sure, is a very good thing.

      Especially for those who are inclined to beat themselves up, view themselves negatively ... or who have been badly wounded along the way.

      The Healer loves us. He defines who we are. I'm so grateful!

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  10. Amen, dear friend, amen!! Very well-written! In the years of marriage counseling that I did, what you shared was the very thing I wanted couples who struggled with intimacy to see and understand. Their vertical love affair was what would provide the byproduct of a deeper intimacy with their spouse on every level. Too often they wanted to get to that intimacy without recognizing it is a byproduct and should not be pursued as the ultimate goal. I know that early in our marriage that was something I did not realize either. It resulted in me expecting my dear husband to be EVERYTHING and to be unfair in my demands. Now, at 51 years of marriage, the communion we share is richer than ever even though aging brings with adjustments in what that may look like at times. So very good, my friend! Love you!

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    1. And this you said, Pam -->''It resulted in me expecting my dear husband to be EVERYTHING and to be unfair in my demands.'

      Oh yeah, been there, done that. I'll be writing a bit about that in a future post. What a drain on a relationship, what resentment builds when we expect our spouse to be our ABSOLUTELY everything.

      Yikes.

      51 years. Wow. You go girl! How come you look so YOUNG?!

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  11. Have you ever considered writing a book, Linda? You have such wisdom and insight. I love how you describe intimacy as a deep, soul level connection. A sacred dance. Beautiful. This is so true - "The more head-over-heels in love we are with a Holy God, the more peacefully comfortable we become in our own skin." And what a difference that can make in a marriage, too. Thank you. Have a blessed week and a joy-filled Easter!

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    1. Oh ... you're just plain SWEET, Trudy. Your words have encouraged me. A few people have encouraged me to write a book, but I just don't know ... I think it would bring out a perfectionistic obsessive thing in me that's decidedly unattractive!

      ;-{

      But thank you for being so kind as to suggest it ...

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  12. Incredible way to pinpoint the absolute necessity for true abandonment in intimacy! You have beautifully described the joy that comes when you are comfortable with who you are in Christ, and that plays over into every aspect of our lives. This is a wonderful series that you are sharing Linda, and I agree with others, perhaps you need to consider writing a book :) Plus... I loved how you shared the pictures of the double waterfall becoming one and flowing together... just a beautiful image of two becoming one!

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    1. I'm so grateful that you're enjoying being here, friend!

      And yes, the waterfall! It wasn't til I was pulling the post together that I spied the kinda heart-shaped rock formation in the middle of it all ...

      Thanks for noticing the two streams becoming one. I love seeing God's handiwork through another's eyes ...

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  13. Again and again, it starts with our relationship with God doesn't it? Good counsel again, Linda. Thank you for allowing God to work through you.

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    1. Blessings to you during this Holy Week, Debby. May you and your husband find fresh strength and joy as you minister to broken souls ...

      He is risen indeed! You get to see the fruit ...

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  14. Linda, so good to be your neighbor today! #16

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  15. Ah, Linda ... thank you for this. You've acknowledged certain realities in a way that I find very refreshing and hopeful. I hope you have a wonderful Easter, my friend!

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    1. Refreshing is such an encouraging word. Thanks for sharing that with me, Lois. Easter blessings to you, too ...

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  16. I love that picture of the water and the big bolder dividing it and then it meets together into the body of water below. Such a good image of two people in an intimate relationship. Though we may come apart for a bit, we always in the end, come back together. Speaking of intimacy, hubs and I have been in a discussion this week on it, I love that I clicked over and this is what your post is on!

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    1. Oh cool! I'm glad this conversation's intersected with what's happening at your house!

      I love when God does that ...

      ;-}

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  17. Amen!! That is my heartbeat and message to marrieds out there too, Linda! I love this and will be sharing, my friend. You hit this one out of the park!

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    1. {tweet tweet}

      You sweetheart, you ...

      ;-}

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  18. A well written post, Linda. Thank you. I wish I could write as well as you.

    Intimacy can be expressed in so many ways ... a glance ... a smile ... touching hands. Doing something nice for one's spouse.

    I remember one day, years ago, the sermon in church was from Matthew 16:21-27 where Jesus says to his disciples: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me”.

    When I got home I thought I’d do something nice. I gave my wife a big hug and a kiss, and carried her indoors.

    Startled she snapped "What’s wrong with you, have you gone crazy?"

    "No my dear,” I replied. "Didn’t you hear the sermon? Jesus said pick up your cross and follow Me".

    I got a slap in the face and severe backache. No Sunday lunch either!

    God bless.

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    1. Oh ... OUCH!

      I wonder what Mrs. Moubarak would say about this!

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  19. I always told our daughters and my students that God's math is different from the world's math. We are all half people, but we only become whole by developing our relationship with God. Once we become whole numbers, we can look around for another whole number. Once we marry, 1+1=1. ;)

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    1. Interesting math twist there, Anita! A really good illustration, for sure ...

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  20. Linda,

    I love how you point out how it begins with our intimacy with God. Happy and blessed Easter, early to you :-) Keep sharing your wisdom :-)

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    1. You're so right, Dolly ... everything excellent and praiseworthy begins and ends with Him!

      And He is risen, indeed!

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  21. A sacred dance. This is so beautiful!
    We love because He first loved us. :)

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  22. Beautiful description of intimacy Linda. As a single it can be hard to measure how well I do intimacy. In-to-me-see is a bit of a struggle as past hurts and shame have me guarded but I am growing in love from His love and grace.

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    1. Lynn ... thanks for being vulnerable and sharing a bit of yourself here today. May Jesus' deep love for you erase that shame and heal the hurts that linger.

      Because He lives ...

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  23. Thank you for presenting two sides to intimacy! (Or three, since we also have intimacy with God.) I appreciate your thoughtful treatment of obstacles to physical intimacy and this line: "The party's not over!" The party has so many layers to it, doesn't it? May your words here encourage many.

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    1. Let's celebrate!

      A party with lots of layers. I love how you put that, Betsy ...

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  24. Hi Linda! This was one of the most beautiful posts from you I've read. What insight! And the photo of the two different rivulets falling into the common lake was such a great compliment to the words.
    What is intimacy? I think it expresses itself in as many ways as there are people, and all of it is beautiful. Henri Nouwen is so good! Distance, both in land measurement and spirit happens, and can be just as fruitful as being with a person face to face.
    Lots of wonderful ideas here!
    Easter blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. Oh Ceil ... thank you so very much. Please know that your kind and generous words have touched me somewhere deep today. God uses you right and left in my life as a writer, pray-er, encourager, friend.

      Blessings, blessings to you on this March Monday ...

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  25. I appreciate your writing and the woman God has created you to be. You are using your life experience and gifts for Him - and to bring encouragement to others who need to know that someone else has walked the path and felt the feelings and encourage them/us to look to the true hope.

    This last one on intimacy with your spouse - after learning to abandon oneself to God's love, is so articulate and beautifully written. Thank you! May God continue to use you as a way to touch others with His love - and in the process, continue to bless and enrich your life!

    {via email}

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    1. To my oldest friend from back in the day ... you knew me when. So please know how richly blessed I am to have our paths cross here and there over the decades.

      I am so very very appreciative that you've taken the time to touch base, to let me know that God is at work. Sometimes we just need to here it from another soul, ya' know?

      Miss you in my life ...

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  26. This is the direction I am trying to take these days. If nothing else, I will have a deeper walk with Christ. :)

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  27. Dear Linda,
    This is a very insightful post. Your illustrations, both in word and in photograph, were very demonstrative and expressive. Thank you for talking about this difficult subject. Be blessed!
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

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'I want the people in my life to know that when they come to me, with whatever is on their mind or heart, they will be heard. I am dedicated to hearing the hearts of those around me.'
~ Adam McHugh, The Listening Life

Linda