Goals, resolutions, commitments, decisions, turning over a new leaf, a blank page – you may have a love-hate relationship with those words especially this time of year. Nuances matter, and if how you’ve thought about this in previous years has been helpful, great! If not, change it up. But I’d like to suggest the most important goal for you to pursue for 2023.
That may sound audacious – one goal that is more important than any other. But I can back up that claim. This goal is the one that will matter most a year from now, or at the end of your life. It’s the reason God created you and what He’s after in re-creating you now. Pursuing this goal will make everything else possible, at least everything else that’s really worth going after.
A few days ago I was a guest on a podcast. The host asked me what I’d say if I had opportunity to speak to a stadium full of 50,000 people. What message would I hope to get across? I told him I’d tell the people to pursue this singularly important goal. And here it is:
Before you dismiss this as the most important goal you should pursue, let me relate this to what Jesus said. A lawyer, one of the really smart people of His day, asked Jesus, “What’s the most important commandment?” And you know the answer Jesus gave: “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.” (Paraphrase of Matthew 22:35-40)
When many people hear “love” they imagine a weak sentimental tolerance, or sex, or some emotional feeling. But Jesus wasn’t talking about any of those things. The kind of love Jesus demonstrated and was advocating for is right next to intimacy – seeing, knowing, being seen, being known, deep connection.
And ever since the Garden of Eden humans have been hiding instead of pursuing real intimacy – with God or with others. Intimacy with God has been corrupted into religious activities; how’s that working for you? And intimacy with others has been confused with sex; again, how’s that working for you?
It would not be wrong to see the whole human story, the story depicted in the Bible, as intimacy created, intimacy gone wrong, and intimacy restored. Jesus came to be God with us (Matthew 1:23). His Holy Spirit resides in our very bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19). God Himself will be with us for eternity (Revelation 21:3). Those phrases all depict true intimacy – nothing between, seeing and being seen, knowing and being known.
This is what you were created for, and this need for intimacy is the shape of your soul regardless of your relationship status. Without it your brain cannot become integrated and whole, and you will keep going to empty wells seeking water that never satisfies.
So how do you do that – pursue intimacy? What would it look like to make that your goal for this year?
Intimacy with Others
Every human being whether single or married needs a few other people who see and know you. The modern church has generally done a truly terrible job at helping unmarried people address this need. It’s likely you will have to exert much more energy than you had expected in developing this kind of connection with a few others. And I do mean few; you can only connect this deeply with a handful of others. Jesus had three. Who are your Peter, James, and John? This can look like:
- Find the others. The people around you deeply need intimacy too. Consider prayerfully, and then ask those you know, one by one, if they’re interested in connecting more deeply on the journey to developing the kind of wholeness God intended. 3-6 others, that’s all.
- Connect regularly. A weekly gathering helps. This is not a weekly church service or 6 week small group book study. This is an agreement for the long haul. You’re going to be up in each other’s business!
- Tell stories. You start by telling each other your story, the whole thing, the good, bad, and ugly. Once you’ve each done that over several weeks you continue talking about what you don’t want to talk about, truly knowing each other. That’s intimacy.
This is the kind of connection everyone needs. Truly, everyone. That means you! Regardless of your relationship status. I know it’s hard. I don’t do it easily. Biblically, this is pursuing intimacy as Jesus did. It’s messy. It doesn’t always feel good. But it’s worth the effort. It will change your brain, and a whole lot more.
If you’re married, pursue intimacy with your spouse. And I’m not talking about pressuring your spouse for more sex. There’s plenty of sex going on without any intimacy both inside and outside of marriage. I’m talking about taking the coverings off your mind and heart as well as the clothes off your body. That looks like:
- BEING the invitation for your spouse to come closer. Become the safe person your spouse would want to connect with. That’s hard work. It starts with dealing with your own baggage.
- Make it about your spouse. Marriage, including sex, is not about you! It’s about learning to love well. This does not mean accepting bad behavior, but it does mean you go first in cherishing them rather than focusing on getting your own needs met.
- Invest in heart connection. That takes time and intentionality. Neglect this and you end up living as roommates. Seek your spouse’s heart above anything else in your marriage.
Try this and you’ll soon see the places in your own soul that make intimacy hard. Marriage is working as intended when it shows you what you need to deal with in yourself.
Intimacy with God
If your goal for 2023 is to pursue intimacy, the most important area to do this is intimacy with God. We’ll unpack that more next time.
Your Turn: What’s the most important goal you are going to pursue this year? Will you consider making intimacy that top goal? What could that look like for you? Leave a comment below.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- As we start a new year many people talk about goals, resolutions, commitments, turning over a new leaf. Let me suggest the most important goal you must pursue if you want wholeness; Pursue Intimacy. Tweet that.
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