He walks through the kitchen, pauses behind me as I reach into the pantry. Catches me as I turn back around: “So, what are you doing right now?”
I giggle all flustered, murmur something about a million little things, and dodge.
Later I am the one passing through the living room, pausing to enjoy a moment of his TV show on my way to settle at my computer. Fingertips brush my side, reminding me of my option to spend time and attention on the one my soul loves. Again I flinch, casting about for a suitable reason to decline.
After nearly fourteen years, intimacy still sends me into shy and awkward territory. Not sure why; my younger self didn’t expect my today self to respond this way. No skeletal remains of my past to blame here; I think it is just an ongoing challenge to completely bare my self before another, body and soul.
To come to that encounter, I need to cast adrift the web of interconnected thoughts about children, tasks, problems, and dreams constantly whispering in my subconscious; to fully and intentionally engage in this moment, here and now. And that, my friends, is hard to do, especially as a woman. But still oh-so-necessary.
In chapter 6 of God in the Yard, L.L. Barkat proposes that prayer is God’s way of seeking the kind of intimate relationship with us that we see modeled in the intimate marriage relationship. Put another way, prayer is like good sex. He desires our time, focus, and effort to put aside everything else to spend intimate, unguarded time with him.
As I compare my decade-plus of halfhearted responses to my beloved’s gentle invitations, and my lifetime of halfhearted responses to God’s gentle invitations, I feel small, humbled. Because when I search my deepest thoughts, I realize I don’t really want to put in the effort to release that beautiful interconnected thought web. With my beloved or with God. Far easier to shield my most vulnerable self from being exposed, if I pretend to be busy elsewhere. Or if verbally I agree to the encounter, but fill our time together with idle talk and tangents.
Since baring my soul seems to come at such a cost of intention for me, sometimes I attempt to build a habit of intentionality, hoping that the doing will eventually lead to feeling.
My beloved and I recently resolved to pursue intimacy every day for a month. I still feel awkward and shy, but I am getting better about being in the moment. The more I practice letting down my guard, the easier it becomes. And as it grows easier, I begin to enjoy myself more, and find myself wanting more. There might be hope for this awkward church girl yet.
Practice can help develop intimacy in the God relationship, too. I set my alarm and most days get up early with intention, to read my Bible and talk with God. It’s still awkward at times, but these moments of pursuing God still seem to be growing me. And the more I pursue intimacy between God and myself, the more my desire grows to continue to pursue him.
Question for you: What challenges do you face in your prayer life?
Very good points! It’s amazing how practice does bring that longing. God blesses us when we pursue what He has designed us for, in both marriage and our relationship with him. Thanks for sharing!
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I have learned the hard way that if I wait until I’m “in the mood” for either situation, the time never comes. Practice and intentionality absolutely bring rewards and blessings.
Really good comparison and so true. I could’ve written these words….I think the majority of women will relate. In His pursuit of us, we must learn to respond in surrender, trust and total abandon. In our surrender I believe our knowledge of who He is will increase and expand, releasing revelation and understanding, drawing us even closer into the arms that long to hold us.
The enemy lurks in the things we hide, telling us we are alone. When we stop hiding, let ourselves be seen in all our vulnerability, we find such healing in the experience of being fully known. I wish it were easier for us all to talk about intimate matters. Maybe if we did more, then we would also develop a greater understanding of ourselves. I’m glad the greater priority is to know and be known by God: he always takes our surrender with the greatest care.
Such a vulnerable, lyrical sharing. I’m very touched.
We’re all hiding behind fig leaves, trying desperately to cover our ugly places and hide them from the One who sees all. And loves us anyway.
It’s so difficult to let go of those fig leaves, even after calling them out! So grateful for his safe love, because there are many times I don’t even care to know myself that well.
Krista – Excellent descriptive. VERY well played!
This is one of my favorite parts of the book. Seeing God as the Lover of my soul has changed so many of my relationships. Lovely post, Krista!
Thank you, Laura. I am still a little uncomfortable with seeing God as Abba AND as intimate lover. But it is good to work in that direction.
Love the comparison. It makes me feel a little weird….. 🙂 But I totally get it. Choosing to be just a little selfless, and take my mind off ME and MY world….even when it comes with great reward, is so hard for me– whether its with God or with Dawson. This is a great encouragement. You are good as this!! 🙂 I think I need to read this book!
Michelle, you should recognize bits of this post from a certain conversation we shared at a certain Mexican restaurant recently. You do need to read the book, I hope you win it! And if not, you can borrow my copy.
Just beautiful, Krista.
This chapter made me blush. And then when I blogged on it, I blushed more. But He is the originator of intimacy, and it’s no wonder He uses the language of husband and wife and bride and bridegroom and sex when He talks about our relationship with Him. And I think it’s so true–the more we engage, the more we hunger.
Blushing, exactly. I loved your post also. Thanks for pointing me to it.
“Practice can help develop intimacy in the God relationship, too.
I set my alarm and most days get up early with intention, to read my
Bible and talk with God. It’s still awkward at times, but these moments
of pursuing God still seem to be growing me. And the more I pursue
intimacy between God and myself, the more my desire grows to continue to
The realness contained in that paragraph just blew my mind away.
Great post! I am indeed inspired 🙂
thank you. 🙂 I hope practice can help you feel more intimate with God, too.
What an incredible post – you made me blush! I struggle with intimacy too and this chapter really hit home for me in so many ways.
It made me want to dive in and read Song of Songs much more intentionally than I ever have before … perhaps I’ve found my new area of play …
rediscovering the playful part of intimacy has been such a big key to my being able to engage in the moment. Good luck!
I believe that it was Larry Lea who taught many years ago on the aspect of spiritual pursuit. The thought and action process involved three steps desire, discipline, and delight.
Most all of us have a desire to change and grow. We hear the Word preached, we are challenged, and then what.
Well, as we all know, there is not a whole lot that gets accomplished in life without discipline. Whether it’s music, sports, science, or any of a thousand and one occupations, nothing of any value takes place without discipline. I am a big proponent of setting small accomplish-able goals. Why, because success breeds success. Most people set the bar so high that they are doomed to fail.
This may sound silly to most of you but lets just look at prayer for a moment. If you have no intimacy with God (conversation that involves tossing the ball back & forth), then to get from point A to point B you must begin somewhere. So start with a whopping 60 seconds a day of pray. I know that’s a huge commitment, but seeing that you have the desire to move forward, why not add a tad of discipline. Yes, just 60 seconds a day.
Ok, you’ve done it, you are over the hump and have accomplished your goal. Celebrate your victory by adding 30 more seconds of prayer on week number two. You are now increasing your prayer life by 50% (great for married couples as well as singles).
Congratulations! There is movement, and wherever there is movement there are great possibilities. By continuing along the path of spending 30 seconds more every week with your lover, you can see how this relationship can greatly deepen and grow into something the is very delightful indeed. Onward from desire, to discipline, to delight. What’s so incredible about this whole deal, is there is no downside. It’s a win, win relationship. The lover of your soul totally accepts you and affirms you in every way possible, so much so that you can’t but help to want to spend more and more time with Him. Enjoy the journey and pass the word. Taste and see that the Lord is good. In Him there is fullness of joy!