Intensity or Intimacy ?

Oh the rush of a serious infatuation, sigh… the full-blown magnificent high that seems to only exist in the early days of another instant attraction ! That “one in a million” personal connection to someone else!  Remember how intense your emotional high was? How deeply it moved into your heart, re-wiring your mind and… well, maybe caused you to go crazy for a while?

Some of us may have pushed caution to the side and  rushed headlong into that sensational blast of instant attraction many times in our past, or possibly right now! We are tempted to jump with abandon off the cliffs of reason to chase wildly after a whirlwind courtship that ended or will end soon after, leaving us dazed and disoriented from a hangover of confused emotions, broken promises and dashed dreams.

Remember?

It hurts, it embarrasses us…even pains us to think of our relational mistakes, our horror stories of lost love and rejection… we chew our lips nervously, wondering how it was that we could have acted so foolishly, rejecting basic reason and the wise advice of those who love us… in exchange for the instant rush of immediate and intense pleasure, revving us up like some kind of emotional crack.

pic – courtesy of awarenessoftheheart.com

Why do some of us still battle this pattern of life, condemned to run in a cycle of hope, euphoria and despair? I’m not a licensed psychologist, so my thoughts are purely personal, but they reflect the experiences of pastoring, parenting and 20 years of marriage and by God’s grace, could be helpful.

I believe the battle for intimacy is rooted in our Identities. Yes, our basic understanding of who we are, why we are here…

1) If we believe we are simply survivors on the battlefield of life, we look desperately for the next foxhole to jump into and take cover. We move desperately from one relationship to the next… hoping it will last longer than the one you just got out of. This by its very nature is intense living, intimacy is a long lost dream that can never be found here.

2) If we believe we are basically bad… then we’re criminally guilty and condemned to live out a life of penance. We may wander in a series of pre-determined, expected and monotonous life moments to preserve our cultural Christian identities… we stick our marriages out, but never grow in our relationships. We’re stuck,  trapped in our decision to marry. Eventually we become so desperate to find an “escape” , a place to run to and leave our empty world behind that we relentlessly crave the greener grass somewhere else and feel guilty and excited at the same time. This drives the world of infidelity… creating pressure and frustration so deep it eventually decieves us into thinking someone or something else would satisfy…would put color back into our lives. This must have intensity to exist… intimacy cannot.

3) If we believe that God has created us to be unique and vital expressions of life, then we will move in directions that reflect our true self, our purpose will direct our actions… slowing the need to escape or survive long enough to actually navigate our lives with intentionality, with direction… with confidence. This creates a foundation for intimacy to grow from, even better… it doesn’t require intensity to exist, it’s stronger than that!

It’s this third option of identification that I believe will save the day for those of us who find a growing addiction to intensity.  The intense relationships, the intense hobbies, the intense goals we crave, give us a brief sense of purpose, a false sense of identity and a  momentary sense of excitement that can only exist for short bursts… it’s like a narcotic, euphoric and beautiful for a short period, but quickly fades to black in time. To continue to “FEEL”  we chase it more and more, over and over until we can’t stop the urge to take another hit, another rush… except it leaves its scars within our hearts, not our kidneys, liver or  brain.

Our world feeds this need into us, demanding that we do more, experience more, buy more, sell more, eat more, smell more, have sex more, travel more, get more stuff… it hounds us to run with the wild and happy ones, sucking the marrow out of life until we are no more. If that’s all we truly have, if our basic identities are only stuck on option one or two above…this may become a tempting offer.

My encouragement to us all is this… PULL BACK, move back, further away from the edge of the INTENSE and consider the path of  true Intimacy… yes it’s a slower, calmer way. It lacks the rush of new and exciting emotions and pleasures, but it offers something much deeper, something much truer than simple momentary ecstasy. It promises… stability, strength and peace…and ironically, delivers to us a much more expansive pleasure and purpose than any “intense” momentary excitement could conceive of.

We need to stop… pause and remember the reality of true intimacy… in our marriages, in our homes and in our world. It takes TIME to grow into intimacy, not something that can be rushed… it’s a slow burn, but once it’s lit… it won’t easily go out. As still water runs deep, so our lives will reflect the maturity of our identity and as we mature so will our capacity for being real, for trusting completely…for being intimate.

pic – courtesy of – ocawonder.com

We would do well to consider the truth of our faith and family, of the promise of God to meet all of our hearts desires, to satisfy our longing souls with goodness. Our creator is the ONLY one who knows us the way we crave for others to appreciate…. quit looking for perfection, for eternity  in any one other than the creator of your soul. They simply don’t exist… not like Hollywood portrays them…instead, look for a faithful authentic helpmate who has discovered their source of love and purpose and peace outside of the intense and has a real capacity to be intimate with their faith and savior… Wait patiently for God to direct your path forward, into someone who is prepared and ready to share and be shared. That’s the stuff of real life.

Our kids need to know their parents are more mature than they are… our kids need to see that we are wise and confident in our identities, growing and gaining in intimacy, fearlessly living out lives… Remember the truth of the bible, read it, trust it… watch it grow in your life. Like this amazing passage in Proverbs chapter 3: 1-8English Standard Version (ESV) – Source:  Biblegateway.com

3 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.

3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.

You will NEVER Regret trusting God with your heart, You will NEVER regret taking your time to grow into intimacy and choosing to walk away from the instant and intense in favor of the real and the lasting… NEVER!

Peace out dear RTP’s…

brad.

PS…and “no” I’m not referring to any one particular person or experience in this blog… just felt God place this on my heart several weeks ago to share, and finally got the free time to do it… 🙂 But i do LOVE you all, for those who are hurting, lost or despairing… just stay vertical…the horizontal will follow ! (Sorry so long)

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