Destiny In Bloom

Cultivating Intimacy part 1

Cultivating Intimacy part 1

posted on February 11th, 2013 / by Alan Smith / 6 Comments

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12, ESV)

Intimacy. To know and to be known. This is not some marginal aspect of the human experience. It is the center of the target. We were made for it.

And we fear it.

We fear that our inadequacies will be exposed. We fear judgment. We fear rejection. We fear being finally and ultimately alone. Maybe if we hide our true selves—perhaps if we present some mere façade matching our valuation of the expectations of others, we can avoid being alone. But the very ways we hide keep us locked up in a prison of aloneness.

Don’t let them see me.

I’m fine. Really.

Why do I feel invisible?

Why does God seem so far away?

To truly move close to someone I must bring them the real me. With God it can feel risky. With people it is risky. I’ve recently been reading a good bit of Brené Brown’s stuff on vulnerability. She often equates vulnerability with “…uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure” (Daring Greatly). The very methods we employ to avoid ending up finally alone produce for us the reality of aloneness. Hiding my true self from others in order to avoid shame, judgment and rejection actually produces the very isolation it’s designed to prevent.

We embrace aloneness in order to avoid aloneness.

I didn’t learn aloneness in a vacuum. I’ve been shamed. I’ve been judged. I’ve been rejected. I’ve learned that people can’t always be trusted to love. I’ve learned that vulnerability leads to pain. So I decided to limit vulnerability in my life to avoid pain. When I made that decision, I also decided to limit my capacity for intimacy. I chose to live alone, surrounded by others.

I chose to not see. I chose to not be seen.

If I want to cultivate intimacy in my life, the very first step is to risk shame, judgment and rejection by exposing the real me to another. If I want to be visible, I must become visible.

For me, this has been a difficult journey, all the more difficult because there is a deeper issue. My problem of hiding to avoid rejection to avoid being finally alone is itself propped up by a deeper problem.

There is an orientation of my soul that makes it particularly unlikely that I will actually move toward authentic vulnerability. My assumptions about my need to protect me from your shame, judgment and rejection are built upon another set of assumptions.

I tend to see myself as a victim in all this. I choose to hide because you might reject me. I hide because of you. I am invisible because you might not see me. I am powerless to change you and therefore doomed to hide in my aloneness.

What if this is not true?

What if vulnerability is not something anyone else gets to choose about me. What if I actually can choose who I’m going to be, or not be, in this life? What if vulnerability is something I can choose even if rejection and shame are guaranteed.

What if vulnerability is something I can choose?

In the garden of Gethsemane we see Jesus choose vulnerability. On the cross we see him walk out that choice.

Gethsemane and the cross are not just a place for Jesus.

I too must choose. I belong in Gethsemane. I am crucified with Christ.

No one chose this for Jesus. He chose it. He chose to become a baby. He chose to live as a man. He chose to subject himself to shame, judgment and rejection.

He chose vulnerability.

He chose love.

He chose intimacy with you.

He chose to see and be seen, to know and be known.

What will you choose?

About The Author

Alan Smith

Alan is married to Nancy, and father to Lauren, Anna and Teddy. He is the Pastor of Freedom Ministries at Gateway Church and is the author of the new book Unveiled, The Transforming Power of God's Presence and Voice. You can find him at www.alansmithonline.com.

Alan Smith

6 Responses to “Cultivating Intimacy part 1”

  1. WOW!!! AWESOME!

  2. WOW!!! Phoenominal post! "I am invisible because you might not see me." Choosing to be invisible actually ends up causing us more pain than any emotion we may experience by choosing to vulnerability.

    I am reading Daring Greatly now. Opening my heart to a LOT, and teaching me more compassion.

    Can't wait to read the next post!

  3. this is so beautiful
    thank you

  4. Oh, sir…oy.

    Yes, someone might SEE me…like…this morning…a bodily function kicked in before rising…and shame set in…and yet…quickly trying to "FIX" something God-given…correct the mess before anyone else would KNOW…what the what?!?!?!?

    Remembering the same bodily function that our son finally overcame…as a child…and, here I am…an old woman experiencing some of the same? OY.

    My heart started breaking for him…knowing how I felt…as an adult, and having some knowledge of why this happened to me as an old lady…and then…of him…NOT KNOWING…why it was happening to him as a child…

    Ah…Pastor Alan. Bless you…and, I'm SURE you didn't expect THIS kind of response!

    When expectations are zero, God is the hero.

  5. It is fascinating that what we are wired for at the deepest level is something we most fear. Even more bewildering is that Jesus offers His power and presence to rewire and renew us so as to receive what we were made to receive in relationship with Him and people. Intimacy on all levels with my future wife is something I desire. I'm excited to choose to be vulnerable with her now in our engagement, and for years to come in marriage. I had a rough week, and for the first time ended up deeply crying with her from a hurt spot in my heart. It was odd, exposing, and refreshing. It opened up amazing connection and conversation. It led to a fantastic weekend of healing and laughter and goofing around together in God's love. If anything, it showed me blessing in vulnerability. Now to choose to be vulnerable with my closest guy friends.

    "In the garden of Gethsemane we see Jesus choose vulnerability. On the cross we see him walk out that choice."

    I want to be a man who lives this way in and with Christ.

  6. Beautiful and inspiring…this is powerful. Needed to hear this as I hv hide my heart so many times.