We can only press on to greater intimacy as we recognize the obstacles that have held us back and as we take appropriate action to make changes in our lifestyle.
Let’s be honest, intimacy is hard work! Actions we take to move past the obstacles are not typically “easy” steps, however they are very much worth the effort.
As I look back at this month where we have examined some obstacles to intimacy with our community, I have been so touched and challenged by each of our contributor’s articles and videos. Each one addressed unique aspects so graciously and powerfully.
In week 1 Heather wrote, “community is messy because it always involves people and people are messy”. Isn’t that the truth?! We must be committed to our community and willing to navigate through the messes of life together. I confess that 2014 was a messy year for me. As the year ended, I felt I needed to send a thank you card to each of those dear to me who have stuck close to me in spite of my mess! I did not actually do that, but probably should have. We all have our mess; we are human and life is messy. Some times are just messier than others. Let’s commit to one another in such a way that the messes of life do not separate us, but bring us closer together.
In week 2 Ryan encouraged us to put ourselves in challenging positions which tend to facilitate and strengthen meaningful, intimate relationships with our community. It is true that when we face some of the most challenging times of our life with someone, we tend to grow deeper in our connection with them. I think the point that I would like to stress is that we can make a choice to dig in and work with each other and for each other. We can choose whether to be bystanders and casual inquirers in life and relationships, or we can live life to the fullest by taking on challenges with others that will result in a fruitful endeavor as well as developing strong relationships while doing it. The latter is God’s plan.
In week 3 Dan mentioned the lack of transparency (wearing masks) as one of the biggest obstacles of authentic intimacy in our community. Truth. I used to be the queen of masks and walls; never sharing myself wholeheartedly with those around me. I did not know what it was like to feel the love that can only be experienced when you are known. I always had in the back of my mind, “if they only knew me, they would not love me”. That was only one of the many drawbacks of not being vulnerable.
Vulnerability is much easier once we have found our security and safety in Jesus Christ. When we have opened our heart to receive His love and acceptance of us, and we truly believe it, it will not be as scary to show who we really are to other people.Being secure in God's love and acceptance takes the pressure off of our other relationships. Click To Tweet
As we said in the introduction to Mission: Intimacy, it is God’s design that our relationships with other people flow out of the intimate relationship we have with God.
Many have the view that vulnerability is weakness; it is what today’s culture is teaching us. The reality is that it takes strength to be vulnerable. God’s design is for intimate relationship, this includes vulnerability.
We cannot expect others to be vulnerable when we are not. We also cannot expect others to be vulnerable when we are not providing a safe place for them. Later in Mission: Intimacy we will be talking about “safe people”, as this is an important element to keep in mind when we are considering vulnerability.
One of the most powerful talks I have heard about vulnerability is a TED talk by Brene Brown, a secular researcher. It is called “The Power of Vulnerability”. Brene is very informative and is entertaining as well. I encourage you to take a few moments and listen to the following YouTube video. You really don’t want to miss this! Click here!
This past month, we took a look at the obstacles to intimacy with community. Next week, we begin a month long study of the opportunities for growth in intimacy with our community. Heather Zempel will lead off next week with an very insightful article.
Have you received your Mission: Intimacy guide? Have you been following along each week? Get it here.
What changes can you make in your own personal life toward deeper intimacy with your community? Take a few moments, ponder this and write down some steps you are willing to take action on. It is great to hear and read about God’s plan for relationships, but what action are you going to take in order to press through some of the obstacles to intimacy in your life? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments section.
If you have not yet checked out our Mission: Intimacy Toolbox, do so now! The resources will help you on this year’s journey to deeper, more authentic relationships.