We all have our own reality. But what happens when one day you wake up and everything you thought about your reality doesn’t exist?
(Please forgive the length of time between my posts. I'm diving into some material now that may be the hardest I've ever attempted and It will take some time to develop. I may also insert some non-related posts between the ones under this subject.)
In my last post I wrote, ‘This is where my subtitle comes in, ‘How to be a Hero when conflicts come.’ We can be heroes in conflict. I’ve noticed that one of the most consistent qualities of heroes, both real and fictitious, is that they must inevitably struggle against their own desires and do what is best for those that need them. Let that sink in, they do have to struggle, often violently against themselves and the desire to preserve their own comfort. That’s part of what draws us to like them – they struggle – like us!’ I wrote that knowing that I should share my struggles. Not so you’ll think I’m a hero but as an illustration of how God can overcome our weaknesses and use us to resolve conflicts and restore relationships.
In the next few posts I will be sharing a lot about my personal journey. I am not prone to this sort of self-revelation but I believe the lessons I’ve learned will be helpful to others. Others I trust have also encouraged me to open this window in order to let some fresh air into some needy souls. My hope is that my experience will serve as a tool to help men and women (especially men) to recognize some critical truths about connection and intimacy in relationships.
That sounds a bit dry. Let me try again. I want everyone who reads about my experience to feel the biting pain of disconnection. I want people, especially those like me, to hurt deeply if disconnection or a lack of intimate relationships describes them. More personally if it applies: I want to be a scalpel or a hammer – whatever it takes to get your attention. I want to pry into your heart and rip out whatever lies between you and closeness with others. I want you to see yourself in me if necessary but most of all I just want you to see yourself. Then I want to offer the hope of heaven itself that you can be brought to a place of true, fulfilling, and joyful intimacy with God and others.
Why? Because if you are a disconnected, hard to get close to, non-intimate person then you are walking in disobedience to nearly every command of Christ. To shorten the thought: Disconnectedness is Disobedience. And as a result, you are missing out on the most important elements of a truly joyful life! I beg you to listen; I speak from experience and a new realization of why the Bible spends so much time addressing our relationships. Relationships are the gateway to salvation and sanctification – neither happens if we are not in intimate relationships with Christ and His Church.
If you are a disconnected, hard to get close to, non-intimate person then you are walking in disobedience to nearly every command of Christ.
I’ve spent most of my life disconnected. Disconnected from close relationships with family, friends, peers, co-workers, and even my own emotions. What I didn’t know until recently was that intimacy was an enemy to me. Whenever I got close to it I felt (unconsciously) like it would hurt me so I avoided it. I steered around it, built walls of reasoned intelligence to block it, and shielded my heart from the pain of it. In times when it caught me unaware I would completely fall apart in sobbing, heaving, unexplainable breakdowns (or worse, I would successfully stuff it under a weird emotional barricade that was set up somewhere deep in my soul). I was embarrassed by these times of uncontrollable emotion so I kept anything that would trigger them at arms length. Romantic movies, tender words, transparent self-expression, memories or lack of them, illness and death of people close to me, and more were all specters of emotional connection that I couldn’t handle.
These years spent as the “artful dodger” of intimacy left me a broken, unconnected man who was destined for a crisis. Mind you, I didn’t look like a broken man to most. I was very successful at many things. I was intelligent, capable, and hard working, even admired for my gifts and how I used them. I probably looked ‘normal’ to most folks that knew me. I had myself and many others (but not everyone – a note for later) fooled. In reality I was a functioning, gifted, productive, and yet emotionally and relationally numb person.
In these posts I hope to explore how I became that numb person. I’m not seeking any sort of catharsis with this exploration or any kind of regression psychotherapy that uncovers my Freudian defense mechanisms. I simply want to reveal some factors that I think cause us (Christian and non-Christian) to erect walls that keep intimacy out.
I then want to explore what it’s like to be that person in everyday life. I want to offer a window into a wooden heart. I want you to feel the numbness with me. I think this will help you understand why you or your loved one acts the way he or she does. I think it will bring some much-needed insight for those struggling with relationships at any level. For those who don’t struggle like this I hope that it will help you find mercy for those who do. For those who do struggle like this I hope that it will help you face your fears. I hope it will awaken you to your desperate disposition and the true danger that surrounds and saturates you.
Finally, I want to explore the path to intimacy. I want to climb the walls we build to shield us from emotional touch. In fact, I’d like to eventually knock them down. I want to show you what a crisis looks like for someone who is barely capable of connecting with himself, let alone others. Then we can trace the steps out of crisis and into connection. Again, I’m not looking for a cleansing of my psyche here nor am I seeking sympathy. My God has met me here and held me fast. He has been merciful, loving, and kind enough to first empty me and then fill me back up. I only want to help you understand that you (if you are like me) or those you love (if you know someone like me) can conquer and connect. There is a road to intimacy.
This road is long and fraught with peril especially for those who are “intimacy challenged” and those who hope for an intimate relationship with them. It’s a road I’m on. I can’t tell you how far down it I’ve travelled. I’ve only recently navigated the ‘on ramp’ so to speak. I have discovered some great sights on the road so far and I’ve tasted a bit of the local fare available while travelling but my ultimate destination is still lost to the horizon. I can take you as far as I’ve gone though. I think you will find it helpful. I hope to be a trustworthy guide and I know the place we are going is worth it. Will you come along?