The Terror of Intimacy
Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.
When I first started to come off lust, my emotions went haywire. I’d spent years building a thick wall of concrete around my heart. Pulling out the cornerstone of lust rocked my defenses to the core.
I hated emotions; love terrified me. Dating girls was a scary proposition. As soon as I started getting close to a girl, I had to bail out. Emotional intimacy caused pain and a sense of rejection and depression to surface, none of which I knew how to handle. The message I internalized very quickly was that I could not, must not, get close to another.
None of this had to do with sex. It is quite easy to have physical intimacy but be checked out emotionally. To be intimate emotionally is to bare the soul—to reveal one’s fears, hurts, doubts, and pain to another.
I swatted anything away that might have been perceived as love. Compliments were written off as insincere. I judged affectionate people as weak or mushy “touchy feely types.” When the men at the support groups I attended hugged each other at the end, I would squirm.
In spite of our efforts to cover up our internal torment, the loved ones we are closest to, particularly our spouses, can see right through us. Some time ago, I was in a counselor’s office with my wife. When the counselor asked her why she thought I struggled so hard with accepting love, she immediately responded, “Because he doesn’t think he deserves it.” In those few words, my wife encapsulated the lie I believed but had never verbalized. I’d done such an effective job of closing off my heart with lust and “the wall” that I was emotionally blind.
Then there was my relationship with God. What a mess. I was always obsessing over my sins and groveling in fear over every fault. God was miles away to me, a distant figure of wrath, brimstone, and damnation. Intimacy with God was for those who got the Christian walk right (which to me meant that they didn’t struggle with lust). Sex addicts like myself were lucky just to be forgiven for our sins. A joyful relationship with the Lord was out of reach for the “Christian pervert,” I thought.
Our terror of intimacy is driven by lies. These lies range from “I will be rejected if they really know me,” or “I will get hurt or abused if I get too close,” or “I will never be accepted or loved as I am.” Such lies keep us bound in fear of the love our friends, spouse, and the Lord want to give us.
Love with another human being is risky. There are times when we will expose our heart to our spouse, and they’ll blow it. No husband or wife gets it right 100% of the time. The keys to overcoming the fear of intimacy are discovering the truth as revealed in God’s Word (He does love us, see Ephesians 2 and John 4), taking risks and opening up with the people we know care about us, learning when our emotional hot buttons are getting in the way of intimacy so we can diffuse their power over us, and even after communication misfires, persevering to draw near to them, especially with our spouse.
If we are willing to break down the walls and let people and God in, the love and acceptance we crave will shine in our hearts like the morning sun.
Excerpted from Mike Genung’s book, 100 Days on The Road to Grace, A Devotional for the Sexually Broken
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