Over the years, society has deemed intimacy as something to be shamefully spoken about behind closed doors, all while plastering the most vulnerable and private moments of intimacy through all forms of media. Yet as we’ve been conditioned to avoid and be ashamed of the rawness and depth of intimacy, it is something God designed us to crave, as we’ve been created out of God’s own desire to be intimate with us. We witness God’s desire for an intimate relationship with us by looking at the state in which Adam was created – naked yet secure (Genesis 2:25). Vulnerable yet cherished. Transparent yet embraced. Adam stood before God, fully exposed, and still God longed for a transparent relationship with him, revealing our relationships need to be filled with intimacy. In this week’s message, Pastor Tracy and James conclude our Secretes to Greater Relationships series, as they discuss how to successfully fill our relationships with intimacy and break the stereotype that intimacy only flows through sexual relationships.
When we think of intimacy, we most often think of the sexual expression within our relationships. However, intimacy is not just the sexual expression of love, but also the emotional expression. Intimacy is having a personal closeness, the ability to be transparent and establishing a sense of belonging and acceptance with one another. God’s precedence for our relationships to be founded on such intimacy is displayed in that the most important relationship we are designed to have – our relationship with God – is fully revealed through emotional closeness. God walked with Adam in the cool of the day, for the sake of Adam knowing Him personally (Genesis 3:8). God called out for Adam and Eve after they sinned with the single hope they would be transparent with what they had done, trusting in His grace. And God sent Jesus, His only Son, so we would be redeemed into a family of belonging and acceptance (John 3:16, Ephesians 1:5). Embracing the truth that our emotional and personal expression of love is to be the foundation of all our relationships allows intimacy to successfully invade all areas of our relationship, including the sexual intimacy God wonderfully desires man and woman to delight in.
Starting at a place of emotional intimacy within our relationships begins with understanding the role we play as we emotionally invest in another. While sexual intimacy is about what we can get from our partner, emotional intimacy takes on the opposite mindset; emotional intimacy asks the questions, how can I make your life better and what can I bring to the table? It abandons the need to selfishly gain and values the other in their place of transparency and vulnerability. Yet in order for us to understand what we can bring to the table in our relationships, we must understand what our significant other needs. In Pastor Tracy and James’ message, Secrets to Greater Intimacy, they unravel how God made man to desire respect, affirmation, honor and peace, along with how God made woman with the need to feel adored, comforted, secure and nurtured. And while we tend to believe because men and women have different needs within our relationships we must provide their needs through different avenues, there are common ways both men and women can fulfill the needs of their spouse, allowing intimacy to rise. Speaking life through our tone of voice and the specific words we use reveals both the respect and adoration we have towards our spouse. Joining alongside one another to financial plan establishes security and partnership. And taking specific time out of our days and week to purposefully communicate and dream with our loved one brings us deep into their hearts, passions and spirits. When we invest in the emotional intimacy of our relationships, we build a foundation which can hold and cultivate the fullness of intimacy.
- Do you find it hard to be emotionally intimate in your relationships? What are things that may stop you from being transparent and accepting towards others?
- Looking at your relationships, do you see them as avenues to gain something from someone or ways to bring life to another? What are things you may expect to gain out of your relationships? What are things you delight in bringing to the table?
- Are there any areas of your current relationship that have been effected by your past relationships. If so, how? What are things you can do to eliminate those influences?
- For those of you in relationships, does the way you love your significant make them whole or break them down? Why? For those of you who are single, how did the way you loved your ex make them whole or break them down?
- Men, how can you use your words to evoke beauty in your wife/girlfriend? Women, how can you use your words to respect your husband/boyfriend?
- Men, what are things you can intentionally do to bring romance ‘into the kitchen’? Women, what are ways you can intentionally affirm your man?
- What things cause the largest disruption of peace within your home? How are you able to resolve those situations, reestablishing peace within your home?
Praise God for being a Father who delights in a close, intimate relationship with you. Ask God to break down any walls around your heart keeping you from being vulnerable and open in your current relationships. Thank God for giving you the strength to be transparent and honest. Ask God to increase your selflessness and open opportunities for you give to others. Pray that God would show you ways to intentionally love your significant other. Thank God for laying His tenderness upon your tongue as you speak life and adoration towards your loved one.
Encourage your group members to engage in conversation with their significant other regarding what makes them feel most loved and unloved. Encourage your group members to begin praying with their significant others, even if it’s only for five minutes. Explain the five love languages to your group and remind them how they may feel loved is not how their significant other may feel loved. Encourage your group to set aside time strictly for quality time to communicate passionately and intentionally with their significant other.