Thursday, October 8, 2009

To Know and Be Known

walking hand in hand Image by gari.baldi via Flickr Intimacy is a powerful human experience.  It is the very mix of security and vulnerability that charges the moment.  The security is based on the character of the other person and the vulnerability is based on being willing to open oneself to the other.  It is an emotional closeness that can only be understood in the context of that particular relationship.  Physical closeness or longing for physical closeness can drive intimacy.  In true intimacy Agape Love is at the very core of intimacy as a both people become completely devoted to the wellbeing of the other person.  Intimacy is to know all characteristics good and bad and continue to be completely accepting of that person, and experience that acceptance from the other person.  Communication is required as intimacy is letting your inside out for the other to see, hear, touch, understand, and accept. Bonding is the chemical expression of intimacy that occurs in the brain.   Interestingly you can have bonding of two people without intimacy, but rarely if ever will you find intimacy without bonding.  Two people with mutual security, vulnerability, emotional closeness.

False Intimacy

Let me just start by saying that false intimacy is destructive to true intimacy to the extent that it replaces or dilutes intimacy.  Here are some types of false intimacy. 

Seduction is a type of false intimacy.  Intimacy is how can I make you feel secure that I can meet your deepest need.  Seduction is how can I make you feel secure so I can meet my own desires.  Intimacy is knowing the other.  In seduction the one caught has a false sense of knowing the other and seducer really only knows him/herself.  

Flattery is a type of false intimacy.  Intimacy is awareness of all things good and bad.  Flattery is only awareness and exaltation of the good.  The flatterer is convincing him/herself that the other is some inhuman ideal, while the flattered lives in fear of being found out that they are not perfect. 

Conversely A critical spirit is a type of false intimacy.  Intimacy accepts the bad and seeks to build the other person up.  A critical spirit rejects the bad and tears down the character of the other person.  The person being critical feels connected by assuming something worthy to offer a type of false edification.  Typically this is merely an escape from awareness of personal faults by focusing on others faults.  In this respect the one with a critical spirit lives in fear of being discovered they are not perfect.  The target of criticism feels connected in that someone is paying attention to me.  Self-sacrifice is intimacy, but in this scenario self-degradation is not!

Gregariousness is a type of false intimacy.  Longing for intimacy you put your best front forward.  At times it is not even the real you.  It is founded in the belief that no one could possibly accept you for who you are, so this invented self or partial self will have to do.  Again fear of being discovered will prevent true intimacy from occurring. 

Victim stance is a type of false intimacy.  We long to be rescued from our circumstances and the meanness of others without recognizing that most times we need to be rescued from ourselves.  The victim stance draws the attention of others through playing on their sympathy.  As long as the victim can play the role then others will meet their need for closeness.  It becomes a vicious trap with the victim needing to stay perpetually the victim or risk being alone.  The irony is that in the end the victim ends up alone if unwilling to give up the role as others begin to pull away.

The rescuer stance is a type of false intimacy.  Interestingly rescuers and victims tend to feed off of each other's insecurities to create a deep bond, but no true intimacy.  Most rescuers imprinted at a very young age that helping someone that is helpless is the purpose of life.  They also tend to view weakness in others as attractive or revolting, but never in between.  They tend to see personal weakness as revolting and end up in a perpetual state of self-denial (which they mistake for self-sacrifice).

Controlling is a type of false intimacy.  The controller attempts to mitigate vulnerability, by managing (manipulating?) the circumstances.  The problem is without vulnerability the controller can never reach true intimacy and becomes frustrated which is often expressed as anger.  The controlled is often a mixture of the criticized and victim accepting being controlled for the sake of closeness.  Bonding to moments of apparent emotional and physical closeness and denying evidence to the contrary.

Why do we long to be known?

It seems to me that God created us with three primary ways of experiencing intimacy.  First and foremost we where created to know and be known by God:

Make Your ways known to me, Lord; teach me Your paths. Psalms 25:4 (HCSB)

Lord, my every desire is known to You; my sighing is not hidden from You.  Psalms 38:9 (HCSB)

But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. 1 Corinthians 8:3 (HCSB)

I will discuss knowing Christ in my next post.  Secondly we are created for intimacy with our spouse:

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have acquired a man from the Lord."  Genesis 4:1 (NKJV)

I am my beloved's, And my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies. Song of Songs 6:3 (NKJV)

Finally we were created for intimacy in fellowship with others.

Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans 15:1-2 (HCSB)

Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 (HCSB)

Will you join with me in prayer for the true intimacy to fill our relationships with God, marriages, and fellowships?  We long to be known, but it must start with ourselves.  Am I one to cherish and guard such intimacy?  Am I willing to let go of false intimacies in exchange for the real thing?  Do I take such a risk to be vulnerable (not reckless, but vulnerable none the less) knowing that with vulnerability comes the possibility of being hurt? 

Pray for me!  I am praying for you!  Even those whose names I do not know.