Christian philosopher Dallas Willard described intimacy as “shared experience.”
He meant that our lives are more than flesh and blood. They’re a series of experiences. The birth of a child. A great conversation. A hike up a mountain trail. A great piece of music. Intimacy is simply inviting someone to share in the experience that you’re having.
We do that with God and with other people every day. But some days it doesn’t seem so simple, does it? Intimacy is one of the most intimidating parts of life. When we’re alone, we believe we’re more compassionate, patient, and encouraging than we really are. As soon as we’re around another person, we’re easily irritated, angry, or we disconnect altogether. Relationship brings realities to the surface that we might not see within ourselves.
Our need for intimacy – for deep connection through shared experiences – is wired into our DNA. We were created for it. All of us. We can all learn how to experience intimacy in our relationships.
To do it, though, we have to be willing to stop hiding in our secrets. There’s a lot about us that we don’t want other people to know. Privacy is one thing, but secrecy drives us further and further away from intimacy.
That’s the tension we’re all trying to balance. We crave authentic intimacy like nothing else in the world, and yet we fear it like nothing else in the world. We’ll run from it, sabotage it, and even try to replicate the real thing with cheap substitutes.
The good news is that no matter what poor choices you’ve made in the past, there is hope. When a bone breaks, it can become strong again – and strongest at the point where the break occurred. Bad choices are bad choices, but God can redeem anything. He offers us forgiveness and reconciliation, and He can help us find it with others.
Pastor and author John Ortberg is with us on our program “Connecting with Others in Meaningful Relationships” to help us understand what genuine, God-designed intimacy looks like and how to embrace it instead of run from it. We’ll discuss some of the walls that interfere with intimacy, and how to build better relationships with God, our spouse, and others
John is the senior pastor of Menlo Church in the San Francisco Bay area and author of I’d Like You More If You Were More Like Me. You can hear the Focus on the Family Broadcast on your local radio station, online, or on our free phone app. Check in our online store for John’s book and for other helpful resources related to marriage, parenting, and faith.