There are a lot of things I wish someone had told me about life and relationships before I found myself in the middle of them. I don’t know if I would have listened, but there’s enough of a chance that I ABSOLUTELY WOULD HAVE that I’m more than a little bummed to have no prior knowledge of what it takes to be in such close emotional and spiritual proximity to another flawed human being.
I’ve been in a couple of relationships in my adult life, and you know what? I know nothing. Absolutely nothing. Being in a healthy relationship is a completely foreign and alien experience for me. I’ve realized so much already about all the things I don’t know. I don’t know how to handle conflict confidently or to practice moderation and discretion in decision-making. I’m impatient and sensitive, selfish and insecure, and there’s never been a brighter light shone onto the areas of brokenness in my life than the presence of this fantastic guy who I so deeply desire to care for.
I didn’t realize how much I was hiding until this all started.
Also, until I read this life-wrecking book called “Scary Close” by Donald Miller. He exposed me, one page at a time, with lines like these, “What if some of the most successful people in the world got that way because their success was fueled by a misappropriated need for love? What if the people we consider to be great are actually the most broken? And what if the whole time they’re seeking applause they are missing out on true intimacy because they have never learned how to receive it?” Receiving love and grace from other people requires revealing the broken parts that need that healing, and that’s the most painful part of all. Donald also acknowledges that “God is going to reveal me as a flawed human being as fast as he can and he’s going to enjoy it because it will force me to grapple with real intimacy.” Real intimacy is hard. And it’s messy. And it has very little immediate gratification. Intimacy, as he writes, “is the food you grow from well-tilled ground. And like most things good for us, it’s an acquired taste.” It takes work, but more than that, I am learning, it takes patience. Patience is not simply the task of withholding frustration, but the trust and restraint to consider the not-yet. This is why patience is a fruit, a result, of the work that God is doing. There is no replacement for time in the journey of vulnerability and love, and it is undeniably worth working and waiting for.
So many of the conversations we have about relationships and intimacy include the exclamation, “Why doesn’t anyone talk about this?!?” and so, here I am, talking about it. No answers to give, only the encouragement that someone else is asking these questions, and that this is the very best and deepest work of community.