It’s been said that fear is the enemy of intimacy. I think that’s right.
Our guest on today and tomorrow’s program, author Donald Miller, agrees as well. He compares intimacy with standing on the edge of a cliff, fighting through anxiety and fear to jump into the water.
We don’t often equate fear with lack of intimacy because we don’t recognize all the ways we avoid vulnerability with the people closest to us. We rely on our humor, beauty, social status, or whatever identity we’d rather people see than our deepest, truest selves.
Donald Miller explains it like this: Imagine three concentric circles. The first circle represents your true self, the person you really are at your core.
The second circle represents our shame. At some point in our lives, all of us suffer emotional wounds. Those wounds make us fearful of being hurt again, so we pull away from the very people we ought to be drawing closer to.
The outer circle represents our personality. It’s like a mask we wear. Instead of a heart-to-heart conversation, we make people laugh, or we impress them with our knowledge of sports statistics. Whatever form it takes, it’s the version of ourselves we feel comfortable showing to the world. It keeps people away from the real us and the hurt and shame we feel.
But the personality we offer to others isn’t who we fully are, neither is the shame and brokenness we feel. At our deepest level, we are that deeper “self” that’s accepted by God no matter what.
In order to really feel and experience true intimacy, we have to let the people we love past the two outer circles into the inner circle to the real us. But to do that we have to be willing to risk more emotional pain by being vulnerable and exposing our failures, our shame, and our past hurts to the people we love. That’s where we authentically connect.
And that can be scary.
Donald Miller’s new book, “Scary Close,” captures his journey toward intimacy and what he learned along the way that freed him to experience true emotional connection with his wife, Betsy.
I encourage you to join us for our conversation, “Pursuing Healthy and Authentic Relationships.” I believe you’ll be encouraged and maybe even discover a few things about yourself that will help you experience deeper connection with your spouse.