What I Wish My Younger Self Knew About Intimacy

“Our lack of intimacy with God causes a void that we try to fill with the frailest of substitutes.” ~Francis Chan

The other day my daughter asked me if I remembered my first kiss. I felt embarrassed and sad, as I told her I did not. She then asked me, “was it not important to you?”

I realized that what she was really inquiring about was whether or not I valued intimacy when I was a teenager. After all, kissing is an intimate act. Her question made me think and, therefore, I began reflecting on my adolescent years. As I thought of my upbringing, I realized that my perception of intimacy had been quite skewed. I was never taught to share my feelings. Consequently, I grew up not being in touch with my emotions, needs and wants. Basically, I didn’t know who I was and simply went with the flow. I became a people pleaser, putting my identity in what others thought of me.

I was looking for love in all the wrong places.

In my young adult years, I, naively, began to believe that sex was the most important sign of love. As most teens, I was starving for love and acceptance,but I didn’t have the wisdom to know it wouldn’t be found in the arms of a young man. My desperation to find love gave me the illusion of believing that sexual intimacy equated to commitment. I had created a false sense of intimacy.

When I look back at that young beautiful girl, I remember how lovely and innocent she was. But I also recall the deep loneliness within her. I didn’t have enough self-esteem to value myself. With every disappointment of a breakup, I’d blame myself, and fall deeper into feelings of worthlessness.

My desire to be seen and recognized was like a deep empty well inside.

I know I’m not alone. Many women (and men), like me, have mistaken sexual intimacy with authentic intimacy. People can spend a lifetime aimlessly searching for love, even missing it when it’s right in front of them. The desperation for someone to know and accept us often leads us to compromise our integrity, leaving us feeling even more empty.

The truth is we live in a broken world, and life throws a lot of curve balls at us. Without a strong self worth, we fall right into Satan’s trap and define our value through the world around us. At least that’s what I did.

Expectations and unrealistic fantasies cripple people. It took me years of counseling and recovery groups to overcome my grief of how deceived I had been most of my life.

I was a forty year old woman, married with three children, when I realized I had to respect myself first, before others would.

For me, this lesson on intimacy began at the bottom of a deep dark pit of brokenness. It was 2003 and my marriage had unraveled. My husband and I decided to separate. When my husband moved out, I completely fell apart. Along with all my pain, my buried issues with rejection surfaced, leaving me feeling more worthless than I ever had my entire life. My marital situation looked pretty hopeless and I did what I had done all my life; I blamed myself. Oh, if only I was thinner, or more bubbly, or maybe if I was prettier, more athletic, etc. The list in my mind, went on as to why my marriage had fallen apart.

And then I met the true love of my life – Jesus Christ. I fell passionately in love with Him because He was passionately in love with me.  He showed me how valuable and precious I am. The more I nurtured my relationship with Jesus, the more He began to show me what authentic intimacy is. All the veils of deception from my whole life began to slowly fall off.

I replaced my self-identity with Jesus’s identity for me, and for the first time in my life I valued myself.

The rivers of delight that Jesus took me through opened my heart completely to all that He was offering me – His unconditional love and acceptance. I felt like He reached His strong gracious hand down and pulled me out of the deep dark well I had subconsciously been living in all of my life. It was exhilarating as I allowed Him to bathe me in His love and give me His perspective on my life. Jesus taught me how to believe in myself and who I was. He showed me that I was His heiress, and lavished me with His presence. He became my mirror to show me who I really am, in His sight. As I placed my worth in Christ, I slowly began to lose my insecurities, feelings of loneliness, and my low self-image.

I grasped His grace, released all my shame, and allowed Him to make me whole.

And for the first time in my entire life, I didn’t define myself through a man. I saw myself the way God sees me – beautiful in His image. I am exactly who He meant for me to be. I’m not supposed to be anyone else. I am His beloved and He is mine (Song of Solomon 6:3). You too are cherished by Him,  just the way you are!

As a young woman growing up, I missed out on what true intimacy is. I thought it was found in the arms of a man. I was wrong. I’ve learned that authentic intimacy is found in the heart of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Only once I love and accept Him can I know how to love and accept myself. Then, and only then, is the outflow of authentic, rich relationship with others possible.

Genuine intimacy begins and end with Jesus Christ.

If you are someone that is searching for lasting intimacy, I pray that you would open your heart and give your life to the One that will never ever abandon you or fail you. To the One that will show you what true love is all about. His name is Jesus.

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” Psalm 73:26

Photo credits:

1. Nikki Randall Photography

2. Len dela Cruz on Unsplash

3.  Yulia Sobol on Unsplash

4. Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

Comments

  1. Sherry Dunning says:

    I love you and your story! Still praising God for you, His new creation in Christ! 🐛🦋
    Thank you for sharing His truths so beautifully!
    May He continue to bless and mature you into the precious woman of God He always knew you would be.

    Love always sister,
    Sherry 💕

  2. Well said. Physical intimacy is very powerful, and consequently can be misleading as an indicator of truth. It is also helpful for kids to have a parent or ideally parents to help counsel them as they begin to explore this area of their life. Sadly, physical intimacy becomes an area of comfort and acceptance and is tossed around without respecting its power.

    Thank you

  3. Beautiful Tweeny! Absolutely beautiful. Your words ring true for so many and your ministry is so helpful. I love your words, “Authentic intimacy is found in the heart of my Savior, Jesus Christ.” How true that is and how blessed we are to experience this.
    Thank you so much. Love you sis!

Speak Your Mind

*