‘The crowning ambition in my life is to be able to be with another person. That’s all we all want. We say we want world peace, but in truth we want to be totally exposed in front of someone who says, ‘Actually, you’re all right.’ The creepy intimacy of really knowing someone and them really knowing me…I would be incredibly sad if I got to the end of my days and didn’t have that.”
(Sue Perkins, Interview with The Times, 6 Feb 2013)
We all want intimacy. But we’re scared of it too. It’s terrifying to open yourself up – because what if you are rejected? What if your Dad says he’s busy? What if your date laughs in your face? What if your colleagues whisper about you behind your back? And yet – if you don’t open yourself up – you’ll never have a meaningful relationship. Somebody has to make the first move. And somebody has to take the risk.
In a fascinating TED talk , Dr. Brene Brown, an expert on social connection, conducted thousands of interviews to discover the root of deep relationships. She argues that the key to intimacy is vulnerability. To be vulnerable requires you to accept yourself as imperfect and to have the courage to be who you actually are, instead of who you feel you ought to be. I agree with Brown wholeheartedly. But I have one question: How?
Here’s her recommendations:
let yourself be seen
love with your whole heart without guarantees
practice joy and gratitude
believe you are enough.
These are great suggestions. I would marry them (were I not already betrothed). But I still have my question, only now it’s getting more desperate: HOW? How do you let yourself be seen when you’re desperate to cover yourself up? How do you love with your whole heart when it’s been trampled on before and it nearly killed you? How do you practice joy when you’re seriously depressed? How do you believe you are enough, when you know it’s not true?
Tennyson reckons ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’ Try telling that to someone who’s been dumped. Or abandoned. Or abused. Or betrayed.
People like me let you down. We don’t mean to and we try not to; but we do. We want; we really, really want, to be enough. Enough for ourselves. Enough for each other. But we’re not. I can’t meet my own needs, let alone yours. And I’ll try and help you and I’ll try and help myself, but it’s – I’m – not enough. Sometimes I can’t pick myself up when I’m down. And I want to give my heart to you – but it’s already committed (to me) – and I don’t know how to change it.
There’s got to be more to my life than just me. There’s got to be more to our friendship, our marriage, our family – than just us. And before I reach out to you: I need to know something. I need to know that Someone has first reached out to me. Someone who sees me as I am and says: ‘Actually, you’re not alright. But I love you and I’ll help you.’
This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us…We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:10-12, 19
Now that’s intimacy.