This post may or may not have been mis-titled. “The DNA of Intimacy” sure sounds comprehensive and this post is not long enough for that, nor its author smart and experienced enough for that. If I tried to write a comprehensive theory of intimacy two things would happen: 1. I would injure my brain, and 2. You wouldn’t read it because it would be too long! One day I would like to, but that day is not today. You’re welcome. So back to the subject at hand . . .
Intimacy is often thought of as knowing and being known. In my dictionary “intimate” is defined as “1) most private or personal, 2) very close or familiar, or 3) deep and thorough.” Usually, as I have found, people will give some variation of this answer when asked to define its meaning. One person I know said “Intimacy is knowing everything inside your partner’s box, and them knowing everything in your box.” Essentially that’s what he was saying. Knowing and being known. This is all true, but not the whole picture.
I would like to add that knowing and being known doesn’t amount to much unless it comes with accepting and being accepted. You can be known deeply by your spouse and then rejected in the discovery of an extramarital affair or pornography addiction. You can be injured by someone who knows you yet abuses or neglects you. Just because you are known doesn’t mean you have healthy intimacy, it just means you’re known. And vulnerable.
Does Jesus know everything in your box? Absolutely he does. He made your box and has seen every single thing ever put into it by you or someone else. He sees you with all your mistakes and failures and sins. Even the secret ones (Psalm 44:21) Yet he accepts you and your authentic approach to him knowing all of those things. As Christians, that love and acceptance and forgiveness motivates us to grow, with the help of the Spirit. (We Christians often have a hard time loving people when they are dirty and sinful. We want them to change so we can love them and accept them. Its the other way around, I’m afraid. But that’s another blog altogether.)
True intimacy cannot exist outside of authenticity. Here’s why: If you alter your preferences . . . personality . . . feelings . . . convictions to be accepted, then you are not truly known, and what is accepted is not really you! Its easy to be authentic when you agree all the time and feel as one.
But what happens when there is a conflict?
Authenticity will often crumble in the face of likely rejection. More often than not in our relationships it is more important to keep peace than it is to be real. Being real is too scary or risky. Are you following? I’m going somewhere here, just hang in there. This is super important for all of your relationships. Stay tuned (what an old phrase) for “The Mysterious Enemy of Intimacy.”