I would add something to one of the lists in Proverbs: “Three things are never satisfied; four never say, “Enough”: Sheol [the grave], the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, “Enough.” (Proverbs 30:15-16) Ask any woman struggling with infertility. Ask any fireman who’s battled fierce flames. To that list I would add the human heart when nothing makes you satisfied. Do you feel like Mick Jagger: “I can’t get no satisfaction”?
When it comes to the human heart, we are leaky. We’re like cracked pots; find a moment of goodness, something that seems nourishing, and a moment later we want more. More food, more money, more sex, more recognition, more things, more excitement. Hence addictions; eating disorders, alcoholism, porn or sex addiction, greed, toxic celebrity, adrenaline junkie, and the list goes on.
The desire is not bad. It’s when the thing takes the place of the most important things that problems develop – either voraciously grasping, or rejecting and avoiding altogether. It’s part of what sin has done to our human nature.
As created beings we need things, truly need them. You need food; don’t eat and you will literally die. You need material things (shelter, transportation, clothes, etc.); don’t have those things and you will not thrive and you may literally die.
And you need intimacy. It’s a true need, a need God built within you as part of how you are created in His image. If you don’t experience intimacy you will die – in your soul, and perhaps even physically.
Disordered Intimacy Needs
As with everything good, evil has messed with your need for intimacy. Many people desperately grasp at sex to fill this need. Yes, you have biological urges, but is what you’re doing working? You run from one relationship to another hoping the right partner will fill you up. But whether or not that relationship becomes sexual it always disappoints, and you move on. You’re frustrated and angry with your spouse for not being more interested in sex, and you become prickly, moody, or demanding. Porn stirs up some excitement in your brain, but you’ve found yourself needing more and more, darker and darker, videos that still never seem to be enough.
Other people put up internal walls to protect those vulnerable parts of their souls. You’ve been hurt, so you close yourself off to connection. That might drive you deeper into porn. It also might make you demanding of sex from your spouse without emotionally connecting. It might make you hide in your house/apartment excusing your isolation because “I’m an introvert.”
And disordered intimacy needs always leave you empty. You leak even faster when you’re looking for love in all the wrong places. And disordered intimacy needs always affect your relationship with God as well.
Now, there’s more going on with lack of close friends, unhappy marriages, or porn use than intimacy needs gone wrong, but that’s a huge component, perhaps the biggest component.
The answer is not to starve yourself. That doesn’t work with food, and it doesn’t work with intimacy either.
So, what have you done with your need for intimacy?
Trying to Satisfy Your Need for Intimacy
“Intimacy” can seem a squishy word. Some have used it to refer to sex; they can be related but they’re not the same. (More on that in another post soon.) Briefly, think of intimacy as seeing and being seen, knowing and being known. Sometimes when I begin working with a coaching client they feel seen and heard for the first time, and it often brings them to tears.
Consider how you’ve dealt with this need in your own heart. How have you addressed this need, and what’s been the results for your soul? A few questions might help.
- Look back at your life for moments when someone – a parent, friend, spouse, etc. – really “got” you. Have you ever felt understood by those closest to you?
- Have you even been aware of your deep hunger for intimacy? What emotions come up as you consider this part of your story?
- When you have risked being vulnerable, letting someone see you, how have they responded? Did that experience make you more or less willing to try being vulnerable again?
- Which of your “bad behaviors” might be related to your need for intimacy? Have you tried to drown that desire with substances such as alcohol? Assuage it with illegitimate sex, or porn, or an affair?
- How effective have your attempts at fulfilling your need for intimacy been? How have you felt after your attempts?
- Who do you blame for how your attempts at intimacy have worked out? Yourself? Others? Perhaps even God?
These can be uncomfortable questions to contemplate. Let me remind you that when Jesus looks at your story He does so with both honesty and compassion. I encourage you to do the same.
Getting Real Satisfaction
The most important point for today is that going to things won’t satisfy the hunger in your soul for intimacy. It will always be, “Can’t get no satisfaction.” Money, work, influence, sex, material things, substances – they may drown the emptiness for a moment, but they will never fill the emptiness.
And Jesus offers true satisfaction. “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’”” (John 7:37-38).
Wow. Let those words of Jesus marinate in your soul a bit. This is not over-spiritualizing your human heart. You are an integrated being – body, soul, and spirit. But could the reason you “can’t get no satisfaction” be because you’re not going to the only Source who can truly satisfy?
Something to think about.
Your Turn: Where do you feel you “can’t get no satisfaction”? What have you been doing to try to satisfy your leaky soul? How do you feel about Jesus’ offer to give you satisfaction? Leave a comment below.
For More: In this week’s podcast episode I talk with Jessica Harris about her experience going to things that would never satisfy her need for intimacy, and how she discovered true satisfaction.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- You were created with the need for intimacy. Going to faulty sources always results in feeling like nothing makes you satisfied. Only one Source can fill you up. Tweet that.
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