Written By: Austin, No Longer Bound Resident
NO LONGER A “FEMININE” WORD
Once of the strongest tools is both a feeling and an action: intimacy.
A word that was once one of the least “manly” words (in my opinion) is used to strictly describe a relationship. It’s used by guys that want to sound more appealing to the opposite sex, as if they’re more in tune with their feelings. They use the word “intimate” to show off a vernacular that awakens something in a female’s brain because it sounds better than “love” or deeply caring.
As a resident in a faith-based rehab in Georgia, I recently realized my opinion about this word was born from an immature place, from a heart that didn’t fully comprehend or value the true depth of its definition.
How could I have? As someone still realizing day by day what it means to love one’s self, it comes as no surprise the word “intimacy” was (and still can be) uncomfortable at times.
However, it is exactly what we, as humans, desperately seek. Oftentimes, we confuse intimate relationships with unhealthy, codependent control over what we think love for another person should be.
WHAT DOES INTIMACY MEAN?
To be intimate with God, yourself, and others is to strive to love like God loves – that is, unconditionally. Don’t set unseen expectations or unjust “goal posts” for someone just so they can unknowingly miss. What ends up happening is you hold it against them when they continuously fail. They fail through no fault of their own other than being an imperfect human being.
Ultimately, you are positioning your “love” as a token or prize that’s dangled in front of them. Your “love” is forever out of reach, like the old cartoon cliche of a carrot in front of a bunny or a steak in front of a dog. This is the opposite of unconditional love.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO LOVE LIKE GOD?
Love your neighbor, just for love’s sake. Don’t set out to control it. If someone shows they aren’t the one for you in a relationship, love them still, just a bit further away.
Love people for who they are and what they can become. Be honest with who you are and what motivations drive you. Be content with who you are as a person and understand that your love for yourself will eventually turn in to love for others. Eventually, it will be an intimate kind of love. This love won’t be trying too hard to mold something into what it was never supposed to be.
GOD’S GIFT TO US: RELATIONSHIPS
God gave us a great thing when he gave us each other. We were not meant to be alone. But we were never supposed to leave God behind when we found someone to be with either.
Without God, intimacy wouldn’t be an adjective used to describe relationships. Intimacy is an amazing gift, even if it is a frightening one.
This is also not a word only used to describe romantic relationships. God wants us to have intimate, profoundly deep, meaningful, life-changing friendships as well. For that, we should all be thankfully vigilant for our next opportunity to find and love someone with no strings attached.
Love by pure intention, just as God intended when he told us to “love thy neighbor”.
THE BEAUTY OF INTIMATE TRANSFORMATIONS
At No Longer Bound, we are practicing building intimate friendships within the community. Every day, we watch men be unapologetically vulnerable within their sadness or happiness. They share the horrible pit falls and glorious things happening within their lives. But finally, we see the smiles and hugs they receive in return.
This transformation is one of the most amazing things we see here. Men go from never wanting an intimate relationship with another man, to actually setting out to create more.
We are growing, changing, and becoming intimate within a brotherhood in a way that I have never seen outside of No Longer Bound. For that blessing, I am thankful.
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