A NightLight Guide: What is Intimacy?


Last week we talked about Purity, tackling intimacy, consequence, and the marriage bed. The following post came as an email response to last week’s discussion,which can continue to carry on this week. Please take the time to read and respond to this most candid and challenging question. I absolutely believe it has everything to do with every reader who has ears to hear. Let our response to this anonymous writer be honest. Let us cut out the language we’ve memorized with our minds and give a right heart response – in truth and in all grace.

—–

I guess I’m asking the questions because I don’t know what I’m saving “it” for anymore.  I’ve waited and been obedient, and I’m not talking about waiting 5 year. I’ve waited past the point where it’s probably unrealistic for me to think about having a family. That’s important because I don’t want you thinking you’re talking to a 22 year old who thinks 6 months is an eternity.

Last week’s comments talk about waiting and how happy they were that they did and that God blessed them with this great marriage and/or the grace of forgiveness. I’ve waited and waited and I’ve been pure, and there is still nothing but a huge void in my life, and I don’t want to believe that is God’s purpose for me, but I don’t know what else to believe.  I know He created me a sexual being and a being that craves intimacy.  I don’t know why He hasn’t chosen to fulfill this in my life.  I find myself if what He really has planned for me is second-best.  I don’t want to settle for that, but I’m feeling so torn apart.

I know you wrote in one of your comments to seek intimacy with God.  I’ve been a Christian all my life, and I just don’t know what that even means.  It sounds charismatic and cliché at the same time.  It’s not tangible enough for my analytical mind – quite like the posts where people say they were “missing something” on their wedding night. 

I feel upset when people suggest that they were blessed with something because of their obedience.  Maybe they were blessed because they were just blessed, just because He wanted to.  It suggests that those of us who haven’t experienced it that we haven’t waited enough, been obedient enough, aren’t something enough to enjoy His blessing.  I grew up in a very legalistic denomination, and I know I struggle having followed all the rules but not getting the fairy tale.  It’s something I tangle with constantly.

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This series has humbled me. The responses last week have encouraged me to pursue God in a new way. We’re all struggling. Thank you for encouraging me to grow in faith. Thank you for commenting here. Even the honest voices who say “I don’t know” are healing. Thank you for pointing to God here.

Please take a minute to read the NightLight Submission Guidelines and send a post of encouragement to women younger in faith or a question to those of us who might be more mature in faith. Email me at NightLightGuide@gmail.com.

amberhaines
About me

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24 Comments

K
Reply March 12, 2010

I have struggled with intimacy with God as well, due to the legalistic church I attended/grew up in. I know all (or a lot!) of the answers, but struggle to FEEL what I know and believe God wants for me. I attended two Christian colleges, graduated from Wheaton (IL) and have been active in bible studies, pretty much my entire life. Sometimes I feel incredibly ignorant that I STILL don't truly GET it.

What has helped me understand intimacy with God more:
I currently am involved in three studies, one of which we just ended going through the book Becoming a Woman of Prayer. WOW, what a way to understand what intimacy with God is. Of course, it helped having other, mentor-type women in the group to hash some things out...but prayer is one of the best ways to become more intimate with Christ. Praying actual Bible verses for people around you too was new to me; I had never done that before!

In my life-because of my own hard headed-ness and desire to learn things "my way"-I have struggled with a lot of needless headaches. I am still learning but have become much better at just accepting things...just because. It is what it is, is a favorite saying of mine. Habakkuk 2:1 is one of those verses for me that reminds me, I am waiting. We are all waiting...on the Lord. We don't know why, or how someone else can have this and that and I don't. We just have to have faith that what God is giving us truly is what's best for us, in our situation. Case in point, one of my best friends has been trying for a baby for 3 years. Doctors don't even know why they can't get pregnant (they've even done some fertility). Yet, my other very close friend who has two little ones, just found out she is pregnant with her 3rd (she was scheduled for a vasectomy this week). We don't know why, and may never know. It just is what it is.

Lastly, I believe you are saving "it" because you are obedient to God. Obedience is the fruit of faith. And I admire your walk with God because you are seeking Him. You are searching. And He will answer.

I hope my words don't sound empty, although only I know how full of deliberation and experience my own life is that has brought me to these conclusions. I will pray for you, sister.

B
Reply March 12, 2010

What I know for sure is that sex is not intimacy, and it does not create intimacy. When 'intimacy' is there, sex can be a beautiful expression of that. Honestly, I am right now watching the lives and marriages of all my friends fall down around me. One friend married young, saved himself for marriage, and 20 years later, is really regretting that. He says he is 'unfulfilled' sexually in his marriage, and wishes he hadn't married so quickly just so he could have sex. Another friend who lived together with his wife for years before getting married, has become irreversibly impotent after 20 years of marriage, for medical reasons. Another friend was divorced from her husband, but they still have sex sometimes. Friends all around me complaining that their spouses are 'selfish'. I have another friend who has never married, and is saving herself for marriage; she was sexually molested by her father till she was 15, and now 30 years later she's on anti-depressants. I have still another friend who's wife cannot have orgasms, after six years of marriage. I'm just a normal, average person, and these are the lives of the normal, average people around me. Sex is not intimacy.... but it absolutely has the power to do something to our soul.

I think it is the desire for it that is one of the most powerful things about it. It's the yearning, and the hoping, and the expecting, and the wanting, and the way it consumes your thoughts. It's the bodily hunger for it that makes you do crazy, wild, foolish things... sometimes heroic, sometimes profoundly regrettable. And it can be so satisfying, but it can also leave you feeling so incomplete, like you never felt more empty in your entire life.

I don't know what intimacy with God is, really. Maybe it really is just like that. Sometimes you 'get it' and you feel so close to Him you just want to crawl up under His skin... and then other times you're just thinking... 'I don't have a fat clue who You even are, and I'm not satisfied, and I'm not even sure I like You'. But there's a desire for Him that is knitted into the fabric of your being, somewhere deep down, that keeps you pressing in... that makes you want to be closer, and closer, and that makes you feel like even if you're as close as you can possibly get, it's still not close enough and there just somehow HAS to be MORE. Maybe it's about knowing that He wants you to want Him like that, and feeling like He wants you like that, too. I don't think it's supposed to look the same for everyone... because it's about all the same things it is with people. Honesty, forgiveness, shared goals, shared experiences, sacrifice, growing together, giving space, talking, doing for one another...

I think it's easy to think of the prodigal son story, and feel for the son who stayed home. I can identify with that feeling... 'How come I'm the one who's been faithful, and he's the one you're falling all over?' I think that is why obedience is such a beautiful sacrifice to God. Maybe it's a different kind of intimacy. Maybe it's the intimacy of the cross.

Kelly @ Love Well
Reply March 12, 2010

I kept coming back to last week's post, Amber, because the comments unsettled me, in the best kind of way. The issues of purity and lust and passion within marriage have been swirling in my head for months now.

I would say Anonymous' question is very difficult to answer out of personal context. Intimacy with God can't be achieved by following a To Do List. Certainly, there are practices that open us to God's presence, such as Bible study and prayer and fasting and silence. But even then, we can be distant and dry. There's no cut-and-dried formula. (Which is very frustrating for those of us in the Western American church, I think.) So it's difficult to address her heart-felt concerns without knowing her.

Anonymous, your questions are honest and authentic. I would recommend you talk to a wise mentor, if you know one in real life, about your concerns. But most of all, I would advise you to take your frustration and disappointment and anger directly to God. (That's one path to intimacy.) Your questions are deep and hard and true. (They make me think of what my homosexual friends struggle with, actually. "So I have this longing -- but I have to live my life with no outlet for it, God?") I'm not saying it's possible to cross the finish line on this one and say, "Oh, good. That's settled. I'm fine now." I think issues that deal with our sexuality tend to be a thorn-in-our side for a lifetime.

But I do know God has a plan for you that is huge, even if it's not going to be the path you hoped you would take.

Two other recommendations: I've just finished listening to the Song of Songs series by Mark Driscoll; he has tremendous things to say about our God-given sexuality and how a Biblical worldview conflicts with both the world and (often) the church. He also has a sermon on dating near the end of his Religion Saves series that speaks to some of your questions.

You might also find that the writings of Henri Nouwen speak to you. After his death, his close friends shared that Mr. Nouwen was a celibate homosexual his whole life. His writings are filled with the honest struggle between a longing for intimacy and a longing to stay obedient to God.

Rachel Boldman @ "Not Just A..."
Reply March 12, 2010

I agree with B.

Sex does not automatically equal intimacy, and if you go into a relationship, or marriage, thinking that sex WILL equal intimacy, you're in dangerous territory; bound to be disappointed. Many movies, even Christian books, have you believe that after you have sex with your beloved (ESPECIALLY after you saved "it"), you relax into a state of blissful spiritual and physical contentment. And that's not always true, and that's not always a bad thing. In real life, we have good and bad days, and we're humans with real flaws. Anyway.

I think the fact that you feel incomplete without intimacy means that you really are incomplete without...something. I wish I could tell you what that is. I could very easily say that it's intimacy with God that you lack. But I don't know what that means, either. It's a very ephemeral concept, like a fog in the air you're just trying to grab onto. So my advice is to read the Bible. In situations where I feel I need more intimacy with God, I like to go straight to the source--not through the interpretations of authors, but just straight to the actual words. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you to that empty spot and show you how to fill it, and build character through your experience there. Don't fear the emptiness. God's there.

Katie ~ Simple Organic
Reply March 12, 2010

I just want to address this part of the comment: "I feel upset when people suggest that they were blessed with something because of their obedience." I don't know any other way to say this except to say that it is understandable to feel upset about that, because that kind of thinking is bad theology, plain and simple. We should not presume to know the mind of God in that way; we cannot always understand His reasons why. Obedience does not guarantee blessing and disobedience doesn't guarantee a curse; the rain falls on the just and unjust alike. It seems unfair. But God does not want our conditional love; He is after our whole hearts - fully trusting in Him, regardless of circumstances. He Himself desires to be our blessing, our reward.

Not that this is easy...I am speaking from my own place of struggle after a few years of hard times. But I have learned that God's ways truly are not our ways. He is the Lord and He does as He pleases - He owes none of us anything.

But He does love us, deeply and incredibly.

Amber
Reply March 12, 2010

I promise I'm not ignoring this. It's blowing my mind. My life is whizzing around me, so give me a just a bit...

joann
Reply March 12, 2010

"I've struggle having followed all the rules but not getting the fairy tale". That is SO ME!
I've lived my life trying to control God. My marriage has been hard. I had gotten to a point where I thought I knew why God was doing this to me, this difficult road, and I felt like I had learned all my lessons. I thought I had enough character, thank you. Where is my reward God?
I read "Prodigal God" by Timothy Keller.
Then I realized, I wanted to have God's stuff. I didn't want HIM I wanted what he could (and wasn't) giving me.
God wants us to want Him. Jesus is a person, not a vague theological symbol. He is in love with me. He wants me to love Him.
He was tortured, bled out, mocked, spit on, murdered to be with me. He wants me, and there isn't anything He didn't go through, no humiliation too great, to make it possible to be with him. Is the cross enough for me, or do I require a perfect marriage, a perfect life too? Usually I want it all. Usually I don't even think about Him.
Look to the Father, not to the Father's estate. That's where intimacy comes from.

Brooke McGlothlin
Reply March 12, 2010

Few thoughts. Anonymous you are not alone. And I so glad you're grappling deeply with these things. Lock your eyes on His and refuse to take them away from His gaze during this time.

I'm wondering if we, as a society, just focus on sex WAY too much? I'll be the first to say that sex is the only sin committed against our own body (outside of marriage that is) so there does appear to be something different about it. But honestly, as much as I love sex...and I do :-) it's seriously NOT the most important part of my marriage. I think that's ok.

I've wondered for years if we're not doing our single Christian friends a disservice by holding out sex after marriage as the end all. I remember feeling let down after marriage, because we did wait, when sex wasn't the awesome firework-producing spectacle I thought it would be. Sex didn't just happen for us, good sex that is. And I was truly let down for a while. Why, I thought, did I hold out for this? Why, I thought, did I spend years of my life dreaming about this? It got better...and is still getting better, but I think we hold this golden "thing" out to single men and women as the candy worth dying for...and it just isn't.

There's this untrue (a lie?) equation in Christianity today that says waiting for sex till marriage = perfect, wonderfully happy marriage. I'm not sure how to develop my thoughts on that right now...maybe someone else can help.

I also hate thinking of things in terms of blessings for obedience. I recently wrote an article for the March edition of Exemplify magazine concerning this very topic. So many times we obey to get something from God. But I believe He desires obedience from a heart that simply loves Him and is grateful for what Jesus did on the cross. Do we really understand what we've been saved from? How much do we really value our salvation? If God never answered another prayer you have, never met another need you have, would His gift of Jesus as the sacrifice for your sins be enough? Can we be satisfied in Jesus? I think that's where intimacy starts...understanding more fully who we are not... in light of Who God is. A heart that doesn't just love Jesus, but is "in love with" Jesus.

How do you get there? Pray and ask the Lord to show you your heart. Ask Him to give you clean hands and a pure heart. Ask Him to help you see how great and how valuable is this salvation. And then ask Him this question:

"Lord, am I willing to trust You, no matter what?"

The older I get, the more convinced I am that just about every question I have can be answered by this question:

Do I trust God?

Tamara
Reply March 12, 2010

If anyone is into Oswald Chambers, today's devotional (march 12) speaks to this beautifully. Bless you, Amber, for creating such an honest, safe space for us to work out our salvation.

Theresa
Reply March 12, 2010

I wanted to say, I really appreciate all the open, honest comments here. I can really resonate with many of the things said, especially B. Anonymous, thank you for your honest questions. While I am married, I have some good friends struggling with similar sentiments. One feels like the clock is ticking down, her "timeline" of when marriage/kids would happen has long gone and now she is left feeling like she needs to compromise. She feels angry at God for being faithful to Him and uet feeling like He did not hold up his end of the deal. Although, she said to me the other day, "God did promise he has a plan for my life, but he never promised it would be marriage. That is just what I have always wanted."

For myself, I too do not feel sex = intimacy. However, I do feel like sex can and should be the sacrament of marriage. What I mean by that is that sex should be the physical representation/manifestation of what is invisible in marriage. The love and self-gift between husband and wife, the total, complete, faithful, fruitful, gift of self that exists in marriage should be made visible in the couple's love making. This is why sex outside of marriage doesn't make sense. You are physically representing something that doesn't exist. There is no permanent, faithful, fruitful covenant.

In this way, sex reflects for us the love God has for us (the church) (Ephesians 5: 21-33). God is a Trinity, God is that Love within God's self. God's love too if faithful, fruitful, and permanent. We can have that kind of intimacy with God if we are married or single. This is what God desires for us.

Having said all this, please don't think I am all holy and have a sex life that purely reflects this kind of love. In my sex life I struggle with being present to my husband mentally in the moment of love making. It is too easy for me to start to fantasize about us somewhere else or with other people etc. It makes me ashamed even writing that. But I know what I aspire to. I want what is written about in Ephesians. I want my love making to be that reflection of self-giving love.

Peace.

Alyssa
Reply March 12, 2010

I totally agree with Brooke, I believe that our society has placed such an emphasis on sex that it is seen as something that is so exclusive for married people that as a result others go after it as if it will be the "thing" that satisfies them. Instead if we pursued Christ in that way with that same zeal I think we'd be much better off but I know myself that as a young person I totally pursued the opposite sex much more actively than I did my relationship with Christ. I think this is common too.

Tamara
Reply March 12, 2010

I'm thinking so many things... this is such a brilliant question, and I'm digging deep on this one. I think that a lot of times I am guilty of equating intimacy with emotion. Like, if I FEEL close to God then we must have great intimacy. Or if I FEEL like He's giving me the silent treatment, then He and I are not experiencing intimacy at the present time. It's very self-defined. I am one of those women who cries in church... but it can be very deceptive. You might think you're broken and your heart is really tender to God and you're just loving Him so much for all He's done for you, but really it's just PMS, you know? I cry over Old Spice commercials at Christmas time, for the same reason. I think the emotion has to be also be expressed in obedience. There has to be fruit. If you are a christian, you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Emmanuel, God with us. He comes to make His home in us... how much more intimate can you get than that? It's all Him, isn't it? Why do we think we have to feel it?

I am thinking that maybe, for women, this is kind of where we sometimes stumble over each other. Some of us are emotional, and some of us just aren't. Some of us have weepy, doe-eyed relationships with God, and some of us just don't experience Him that way. It's the Mary/Martha thing, isn't it? We don't experience Jesus the same way, but I think that secretly we have this tendency to kind of look at each other and think, 'Jesus would like my way of loving Him better'. Somehow I think it kind of 'smarts' a little if you're the one in the spiritual 'kitchen', doing the good, faithful, selfless, obedient work, and there's some other woman who's sobbing over how much she loves Jesus and how close they are... and you just don't 'get it'. I don't know if that makes sense.

Amber
Reply March 13, 2010

K said, "prayer is one of the best ways to become more intimate with Christ." K, I love your comment here so much. I long for that obedient heart, and too often I don't even know what it looks like. I forget to study Jesus.

My own mentor recently told me something like this, "God doesn't save you to make you comfortable in your skin, to give you a model marriage, or the perfect family. He rescues you so you can be like Christ. That is His sole purpose for you." Really believing that absolutely changes the way I see my trials.

B, Whoa. Your comment here is raw and good to me. This is front porch conversation for sure. You make me think of John 17, when Jesus prays for the church, and John 15, when Jesus tells us to abide. He refers to Himself in God, and us in Him, and God in Us, and we all in Unity, this beautiful vine, some of us grafted in, every fiber sucking from, living on, abiding in God and the knowledge of God. I want to abide, and I think Jesus speaks well of intimacy here. I think it has everything to do with prayer, praying without ceasing.

Kelly@LoveWell, you are seriously right on about the resources you recommended. God has gifted some strong preachers on this topic. Seth and I often clean the kitchen listening to podcasts when we need some ministry.

Rachel is right, too. The words of God, sometimes they're just black and white symbols stacking head knowledge, but sometimes, they're what he whispers into that empty place. Ah, be filled with the Holy Spirit. Is that also not some floaty language? But it is truth. In the last post, someone mentioned that purity s a discipline, and in that discipline you expose yourself to His voice. We have to make our disciplines opportunity to hear from God and to give our hearts to God. That is how I understand intimacy.

Rachel Boldman @ "Not Just A..."
Reply March 13, 2010

I think that's why, in a sense, I like the empty space. Because it does give the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to fill and occupy, and speak into the quiet. Maybe sometimes that's our job in the spiritual "equation"--just to allow ourselves to be filled. The allowing can be hard work, and requires us to be uncomfortable. But if we DO allow it, it gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity. Maybe that makes sense, maybe not! :)

    Amber
    Reply March 13, 2010

    Yes, Rachel, I agree. You know that story where the demon is kicked out, and the house is swept clean, but the demon goes and gets seven more powerful and they fill the house again?

    I heard once that in the meantime, the time of empty and sweeping, is when we ask God, pursue God, to fill us up with Himself. If we don't we'll try to fill with something else. We're but vessels. We can't help it.

    OK. I still have responses to these other amazing comments, but if I don't use this short quiet moment I have to continue to prep adoption documents, they just won't get done.

    I'll be back -- I hope. Thank you so much for responding to each other while I swamp through this stuff. It's going to be so worth it.

Aimee
Reply March 13, 2010

I feel like I'm coming in way late on this conversation. But here's my 2 cents, for what it's worth. Grab a cup of your favorite coffee or cup of tea, because I'm just going to be as honest and as real as I can be.

I feel I may be the only one of these commenters who not only crossed the line, but flat out crossed it.

Not only once or with one man, either. Because, you know, I'm one of those people who has to learn the hard way. I had been told countless times while I was growing up in a pretty legalistic household that I had to wait until marriage. Period. And while I was given some guidelines, that wasn't enough. At first it was, because I knew what would happen if I ended up a teenage mother, so it was a bit easier to say no or to just avoid tempting situations all together. When I went to college--a Christian college--I experienced real temptation for the first time. I think because this guy was a Christian and I was a bit crazy about him, but not knowing how to really be firm in saying no because it was a heart thing, was a real struggle. And a spirit thing. That's vague, but think when you are drawn to a man's heart and spirit, it totally changes things and becomes a more intense romantic relationship. But he wasn't the guy with whom I sinned.

Fast forward a few years. I was really mad at God because I was dealing with issues from my past, namely sexual abuse. I was angry at God in every way imaginable. I questioned why He allowed those things to happen to me. I questioned where He was when it was happening. I questioned why I should be obedient to His laws when He didn't protect me. In the midst of my anger and struggle, I sinned. I gave away a precious part of myself to a man who did not deserve it. I know had I not been in a place of anger, struggle and rebellion, I would not have made the choice I did.

Boy, oh boy... when I came to my senses, there was a deep heartache and regret that I cannot even begin to describe. My soul ached because I gave myself away and that can't be undone or taken back. It was done. I let myself down. I let God down. I let my parents down. And I let my future husband down.

But then I met him and when I did, neither of us were in a strong place in our faith. We each brought baggage and regrets, which seriously affected our relationship. We struggled so much that we actually moved up our wedding date. We had to deal with the consequences for several years after our marriage and I would venture that, having just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, we are *just now* getting to a point of real, true, deep healing in our hearts from our past(s).

Brooke, you had it spot on! Especially the points of "holding out sex after marriage as the end all" and "waiting for sex till marriage = perfect, wonderfully happy marriage." Sex is intimate because that is when you are most vulnerable to each other. But it's not always natural... we kind of have to learn how to do it so that both husband and wife are satisfied and happy. As Brooke said, it's not worth dying for, but it's not a real reason to get married, either. ALL marriages have seasons of struggle and seasons of closeness/happiness/(insert any wonderful adjective you can think of).

Anonymous, as you think and pray about this, please let me offer this advice. Living with regret for not staying pure, seeking forgiveness from God and myself have been some of the hardest things I've ever done. Nothing hurts like regret. Nothing. Take your struggles to God. All of it. If you are angry or hurt or lonely. He can take it. Trust me, if He didn't zap me with a lightening bolt when I told Him off a time or two, He won't zap you, either. :)

Jana
Reply March 14, 2010

I am just going to try to stand on the opposite side of my dearest anonymous.

I didnt save anything. I went into negative saving "it," there are names for girls like the kind I was. And i was so consumed with myself that I didnt see past my wants. It lead me to a teenage pregnancy. Then I had to figure out me and God for my sons sake as well as my own. There are consequences for your actions. Its so basic and so unmistakably hurtful to walk past a line...especially when you dont even take the time to dance next to it.

I love what these ladies are saying. I wish I could wrap my head and my heart around it all but it strikes a really urgent unrest in me so I am going to try to paint that picture instead.

I am married to the love of my life who has put forward so much into his relationship with my son, who is not his own by blood. But I also am connected to my sons father. And for the sake of my son who really LOVES both of his daddy's we have had to all sit in the same room together and help eachother through some really weird and hard times. I want to add here that while we run the motions, we pray for the answers and God provides those. I have to sit in the same room with the man I am madly in love with and the man who I concieved a child with and its just terrible sometimes. What if I would have followed closer? what if I could have spared my son the questions and the realities that came with the consequences? My acts have defined the childhood of my boy. every bit of confusion comes from my mistakes and the unwillingness to believe that God was enough. It's like cutting out fabric to sew....you can always make something too big a bit smaller. But you cant add fabric to something that was cut all wrong. You have to start over with what youve got. God gave me a new garment, but so many only see the piece I made for myself.

There is absolutely no reason in THIS world that I deserve the love I share with my husband. There is no reason my son should have to wonder about his mom and her actions. I just wanted to give you an example of what can happen on the other side of this. The mess is terrifying. I really am so proud of you, I know what it is to long for someone right, once I had my husband to fill that void the longing didnt all together go away....he has been deployed for monuments of time and even though I had every right to have sex with him, I couldnt. He was simply too far away. You have every right to intimacy, but your waiting, because maybe your someone is too far away right now. And because if it isnt meant to be you could hurt a sweet little childs heart, it would be an accident, but you never really move past that when you are watching them grow.

I know this is far off in another direction. I just hurt for you to stay on the side of the fence without the barbed wire. God is healing me, but there are always scars, He knows that better than anyone.

Tamara
Reply March 14, 2010

I feel like we need a group hug right about here.

C
Reply March 14, 2010

I am really thankful for all of the open honest comments taking place in this discussion. I like what B says about not knowing what intimacy with God really is and how sometimes you "get it" and sometimes you feel like you don't even know Him, but you have a desire for Him that is knit inside of you. I experience that. I "get it" sometimes and I "feel" strong, and I "feel" like I trust Him and then real life hits me and I lose those feelings. And I think that is, as much as I detest some of things it's taught me, where my legalistic training kicks in and I do things I know I should without having the "feelings". I want Him and I trust Him, I just wish that I "felt" like that all the time.

Rachel Boldman @ "Not Just A..."
Reply March 15, 2010

I'm all for the group hug.

Caroline@carolinecollie
Reply March 16, 2010

I'm just here for the hug. *hug*
Just kidding.

I've been following this conversation since last week and I'm really enjoying it. It is so good to engage and grapple with what it means to follow Jesus and what's it's supposed to look like.

Concerning the talk of intimacy, I've been challenged recently about the power of the Holy Spirit, available to believers. The kind of power Paul talked about when he said "I came to you not with persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Holy Spirit and of power." And though it may take me a moment to tie this in I think that the power of the Holy Spirit is something that's missing from a lot of our walks in the "Western Church" and I think there's a relationship between this and intimacy.

The past decade or so I've spent walking with God has had a lot of ups and downs, but I can't deny that the moments where I felt most close and intimate with God were often the moments where I felt like I was walking exactly where He wanted me to, and following the leading of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes this was in a simple way, like speaking to a student on campus that I felt led to speak to. Sometimes this was in big ways, moving to a new country and continent to share the Gospel.

I'm still working out in my mind, and on paper and in blogs, what this intimacy is supposed to look like, but it does seem, if the Holy Spirit is the part of God that comes and dwells within us, there is something intimate about that. And there is something intimate about following His lead, and about believing Him for things that are impossible if we consider them with our rational, natural minds. There is an intimacy that comes from having that renewed mind that believes anything in impossible with God -- Anonymous meeting her husband tomorrow, a tumor disappearing without a trace, a leg growing where there was no leg -- there is an intimacy I've found in believing God for the impossible. Does that sound silly or make any sense?

What I want to communicate is that along with prayer, studying the Word of God, sitting quietly before Him, praising Him and so on, I think we should earnestly desire to walk with God in the leading of the Holy Spirit, to minister to one another by the power of His Holy Spirit, to pray with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That's the Helper Jesus promised to send, who would guide us into all truth and disclose to us what is to come. (John 16)

As I said I'm continuing to try to learn this, but I'm working on listening, thinking and reflecting, and especially asking and desiring, and I'm trusting the Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him to help me press on in the journey. Perhaps as it may be the case in many churches in the "West" following the leading of the Holy Spirit is something we need to see more and do more, and by that we'll be drawn closer to the heart of God.

xCC

Danielle K
Reply March 16, 2010

I am so touched by what I am reading. It's indescribable really, how words from women I don't know and may never know can affect me so deeply on this otherwise mundane day.

I am so grateful for the questions that are being presented (many of which my friends and I ask continuously) and I'm equally grateful for the sweet words of guidance and wisdom that so many are pouring out.

Misty
Reply March 21, 2010

I've been following this but never got the opportunity to comment initially. Both this post and the one before it have knocked me off my feet. It is an issues dear to my heart and I was one emailer who pointed Amber to this issue as well. But I have been so incredibly humbled, encouraged, and astonished by the women who have shared thier stories and spoken such powerful truths. All I can say is wow.

Now, very late in the conversation I feel the Spirit leading me back here to admit how convicting this has been for me as well. I think the theme of the commentary here is that sex does not equal intimacy. God is love. Period. He is the source of all love, sexual and otherwise. And while I first read that crying "Yes!", I also felt that still small voice telling me that I have made too much of sex. Having gotten to a point in our relationship where it is so great and so precious and so intimate, I have taken for granted the true source of those things. I have allowed myself to feel the pressures of this world, at times idolizing sex and meanwhile feeling the presure to compete with other sexual idols in this world to keep my husband happy. It has snuck in gradually and I could have gone on ignoring it easily. But God has used all of you to speak this new truth into my life in the blaring way I needed it. And I am not meaning to open a new can of worms! I guess I just felt like I had to admit that out loud.

    Amber
    Reply March 21, 2010

    Misty, yes. I totally agree. I keep coming back, speachless. It has strangely changed the way I see a lot things, having nothing to do with sex. Thank you for coming back.

    This whole thing has blessed me.

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