Fear of Intimacy

One of the most terrifying experiences for me was when I began to let others know about my hopes, dreams, fears, and painful past. The amount of risk this entailed required me to find the courage I had never thought possible. The risk of being hurt was the barrier that kept me at arm’s length with others for many years. To depend on someone, only to possibly be shamed by them when I needed them to extend empathy felt impossible. The two questions that resounded in my head all those years were, “Will they embrace me in my pain or cruelly push me away?” And, “when they see me for who I really am will they reject me? “

To truly depend on another is a bit like the game that I believe is called “trust fall.” You cross your arms in front of you then fall back with the belief someone is going to catch you. My fear was no one would be there to catch me if I trusted them with my heart. So I would just opt out of the opportunity for intimacy or turn the tables and attempt to care for them. Having been hurt badly in my childhood through physical and verbal abuse it seemed like madness to trust another with my heart. The world seemed like a dangerous place to me so intimacy was difficult to find.

Shutting down my feelings and shutting others out altogether are actually telltale signs of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. In my refusing help and actively pushing people away I sought comfort through several addictions that never provided the intimacy I hungered for from another.

I can remember after one of my most traumatic childhood incidents thinking to myself, “I don’t ever want to feel that weak and powerless again.” The end result of all my protecting was I became isolated and left to deal with the demons of my past alone.

I was only able to succeed at overcoming my past by letting people; especially those I had known for many years, get close to me.

Intimacy is an act of courage. Remember, I was terrified of falling and no one catching me? The more I avoided that act, avoided intimacy with others, only made that prospect of letting others get close more terrifying.

I became strong when I finally chose weakness and an act of courage to share my fears and my pain. I took a leap of faith to seek comfort and to be held up by these loving and caring friends. I let them see all of me at my most vulnerable. And while none of this was easy, it is what I had to do to get free of my shame and fear. The payoff was the world and the people in it became a less frightening place.

In my search for intimacy, I found grace, not just from God but from others also. The apostle Paul tells us that Christ’s power rests on us when we choose weakness. Honestly, it still is a struggle to be in confessional community but it has provided for me love and intimacy that has cast out many of my fears.

2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

 

Seeking His Face

A couple of weeks ago I grabbed A.W. Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God off the shelf and started to read it for about the tenth time. Tozer always brings me back to what it means to “follow Christ.” He talks about being “children of the burning heart” and writes, “complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth.”

In a world that is changing “rapidly,” I find it easy to get overwhelmed if I’m not in a seeking posture toward God. I find myself burdened by the chaos of uncertainty that I read about every day or hear about on the news. This plus what I believe is the prompting of the Spirit has led me into a season of “earnestly” seeking God. Call it an inner ache for His comforting presence. As I sit quietly before Him I cry out, “Come Holy Spirit.” I do this because I need His presence in the midst of the busyness of life and the chaos and uncertainty I just mentioned.

To center oneself on the reality of God comes at a cost but it helps me to be “in Christ” in a world that desires me to be influenced by its message. I hoped in that message for many years and it never satisfied that deep ache within me for something greater. Or perhaps that should be someone greater.

Many of my close friends comment that they no longer feel His presence and have turned to the talking heads of this world for wisdom and understanding. The intimacy they once knew has disappeared and their face is no longer pointed towards His face to be reminded of His deep love for them but to the lesser things, the world has to offer.

Look, I’ll be honest with you at times my attempts to commune with Him are clumsy at best. But in seeking His face at times it calls for us to search for Him, to pursue Him and to look for Him. Let me remind you that the word “seek’ is found throughout the library of Scripture. One of my favorite passages with the word seek is Psalm 27:4-5, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in His temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”

I share this with you as a word to consider. Perhaps it is not just for me and will hopefully encourage you to “earnestly seek Him.” May your heart begin to burn anew for His life-giving Presence.

Psalm 63:1, O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirst for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.