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Saturday, April 9, 2016

What Is Intimacy? Maybe Not What You Think

Some time ago a friend shared with me a definition she had heard for the word intimacy: "in to me see." I thought that sounded good. And we commiserated about how we don't always experience intimacy because we don't feel "seen" or "heard." We both agreed: how can we have our needs for intimacy met if another person won't receive our sharing? 



The next time we chatted, this topic came up again. As she shared how she yearned to "seen" by her husband, an unusual thought came into my mind:


That definition requires another person's cooperation through receiving and/or acknowledging the expression of our heart, emotions, and thoughts, even opinions. But wonder if that person we're trying to share with won't acknowledge what we're sharing? Maybe they even totally reject what we're saying and pour contempt on us? Are we to be frustrated and denied our need until they receive our intimate sharing--to the degree we desire? We could even feel justified in being angry or withholding our heart. Maybe even hardening our heart.


That's when I thought, Wonder if we think of intimacy as sharing our hearts, thoughts, emotions, and opinions regardless of whether we are heard or another person sufficiently acknowledges our sharing? Wonder if we define intimacy as sharing our hearts--not "in to me see."


I acknowledge that the formal definition could be an obstacle to my idea. After all, Webster's Dictionary (online) it states: 


"1: a state marked by emotional closeness 

2: a quality suggesting closeness or warmth
3: something that is very personal or private" 

"Closeness" would seem to indicate that both people involved are experiencing the same "closeness or warmth." But I can remember many times when my husband Larry remarked, "I feel really close to you right now. I'm enjoying you." But guess what? I wasn't feeling particularly close to him. And other times, I'll remark that I'm feeling close to him but he knows he has the freedom to say that he isn't feeling particularly close to me in that moment. Am I or Larry supposed to conclude that such a "close" feeling isn't valid because it's not shared by both? I don't think so. 


I can feel intimate, close or warm towards someone because I've shared my heart, thoughts, or opinions, and thankfully, I don't have to tell myself I'm wrong if they don't respond equally. And I've been "intimate" with them because I've shared me even if I'm not "in to me see."


Seems to me, this is an area where we can't demand cooperation from another person. But we can depend upon God's promise in Philipppians 4:19 that He will meet all our true needs--even if He's the only one who "sees" our hearts. 


What do you think? I'd love to hear your opinion. 


(photo credit: stock images from www.freedigitalphotos.net)

By the way: Have you had an opportunity yet to check out my newest book? It's a 10 lesson women's Bible study, Choices of the Heart, studying 20 women of the Bible. Check it out

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