When Your Past Complicates Intimacy

When Your Past Complicates Intimacy

People who research such things say that somewhere around 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused in some way. And then there are many who received distorted messages about intimacy as they were growing up, or who became caught up in unhealthy sexual relationships. Those experiences have long-lasting consequences. When so much of your past complicates intimacy it seems a miracle for any marriage to be sexually functional.

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Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Sure, others wound us. But many of our wounds are self-inflicted. God created us for intimacy, but we too often end up looking for love in all the wrong places. And what can we possibly hope to do about it now?

It’s not your fault, really. At least it didn’t start as your fault. You never fully got the kind of love you needed growing up as an impressionable child. You didn’t see “learning to love well” modeled in a healthy way. Your early attempts at feeling important, making it, connecting with someone else, getting your needs met, giving something of yourself – most or all of them ended up leading to some kind of rejection, some lack, some wounds that wouldn’t go away. You learned early on that if you were ever to get what you needed, you’d have to claw and scrape and grasp and hold on for dear life.

Some of us seem more wounded than others. If you grew up with parents who loved each other well, stayed together, and loved you well, you got a foundation that was more solid than many others received. But even you have felt the sting of bullying, tragedy, disappointment, failure, or just plain old sin.

And so you go looking.

Where We Look for Love

It’s no wonder many look for love in places such as

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Why God Created Us For Intimacy

Why God Created Us For Intimacy

Hiding is human. We’ve been doing it ever since Adam and Eve tried to hide from God in the Garden of Eden. Intimacy is scary and vulnerable. And it gets us into a lot of trouble.

It’s logical to wonder why God created us for intimacy. The lack of intimacy has led to frustration, anger, desperation, depression, loneliness, heartache, sickness, and even death. The drive for intimacy has led to brokenness, abuse, illicit and dangerous sexual behavior, heartache, sickness, and even death.

We’re talking about much more than physical intimacy, although that’s included. We’re talking about the need to be close, to be understood, to be Number One to someone, to communicate heart-to-heart, to share with, to need and be needed, to be with someone with no walls between.

Many of the great story lines that resonate so deeply in our souls have this need at their core, even from Biblical times. Think Abraham, Jacob, David, and Hosea. Think Casa Blanca, Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, Shreck, or Pretty Woman. The drive for intimacy can lead to love, war, and a whole lot more.

One of the most devastating and excruciating things a person can experience is intimacy gone wrong. The soul wounds are deep, easily infected, and slow to heal. Once wounded here it’s easy to either close yourself off to any intimacy ever again, or rush headlong from one relationship to another in a desperate attempt to find it.

Alternatively, there’s nothing like the nourishment and exhilaration true intimacy offers. Whether a healthy marriage, a true friend, or a long-standing small group, such intimacy fosters physical and emotional health, provides amazing strength and resilience for tough times, and enlivens the deepest parts of you to grow and thrive. You become more than you ever thought you could be.

As I told my husband many times and have engraved on his grave marker, “You are the wind beneath my wings!”

So what was God after in creating us this way? Surely He knew this need would cause us pain and get us into trouble. Was it worth it when God created us for intimacy?

The truth of the Bible, and the truth that makes our need for intimacy make sense, is this:

God created us for Himself.

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How to Receive Healing from God

How to Receive Healing from God

We all need to receive healing from God. (And if you believe you’re the exception, you need an extra special kind of healing!) I believe healing is perhaps the deepest meaning of redemption. Something has happened to us on the inside that has left us seriously broken. And even forgiveness, as wonderful as it is, provides only a partial answer. Those steps to healing have some common characteristics for each of us.

The need for healing comes in many varieties;

  • The child abused or neglected during his most formative years
  • The woman used for someone else’s pleasure so long she believes that’s all she’s good for
  • The addict whose soul, body, mind, future, and finances are completely controlled by an outside substance or behavior
  • The “good” church member exhausted from endlessly doing good things so she will look good
  • The spouse left hopeless, angry, and bitter from decades of marriage misery
  • The man whose unhealthy lifestyle has left him with humanly incurable diseases
  • The woman whose genes, choices, and circumstances leave her depressed and anxious
  • The parent, spouse, child, sibling, or friend grieving the death of a loved one
  • The person who sees no future beyond poverty, persecution, violence, or slavery

Jesus applied Isaiah’s passage to Himself when He said, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” (Luke 4:18-19)

We can hope that happens in one mysterious moment. And sometimes it does.

More often it’s a process, one in which you and I fully participate.

These steps are almost always important as you receive healing from God:

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5 Ways to Befriend Your Feelings

5 Ways to Befriend Your Feelings

Feelings are fickle. They’re real, but they’re unreliable. Emotions can be affected by everything happening both inside you and around you. You may see your emotions as overwhelming, and think you are at their mercy. I’d like to help you befriend your feelings instead of feeling like you are their victim.

Without emotions life would be colorless and purely clinical. God built us with the capacity to experience sadness, anger, pain, grief, fatigue, peace, joy, hope, and love. Many of those encompass more than just feelings, but you can’t experience any of them without feelings. Jesus expressed and experienced them all.

This past year I’ve experienced plenty of times when emotions felt overwhelming while I’ve walked my journey of grief. I’m also grateful that I had learned previously, and am learning again, what to do with feelings when they come.

You know that letting your emotions control you is neither healthy nor godly, but neither is stuffing and denying them. So here are some key steps to help you befriend your feelings, and make your emotions work for you rather than against you.

Befriend Your Feelings

1. Both “positive” and “negative” emotions are legitimate and can be healthy.

Shutting down negative feelings means cutting yourself off from the positive feelings also; you can’t be open to experiencing one without the other. The pleasure center and pain center in your brain are not completely separate. The opposite of love is not anger, but apathy. Deep pain can be very close to deep love and profound meaning.

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