Excellent post on intimacy vs. friendship Not necessarily sexual intimacy (thought it is included), the garden variety of intimacy.
When you get to the point in your spiritual life that you are focused on the will of God, staying in a state of grace, and you have to say 'no', you learn the value of the friendship.
They're hard lessons at first. Sometimes you learn something you thought was a friendship for years, wasn't.
But, the more you give up to please Christ, the deeper your relationship with Him gets and the easier it is to let go. It even gets to the point where it is no contest. An alleluia.
It seems like it takes a lifetime to learn how to master intimacy and friendship. There are so many ways it manifests itself in our lives. When you're trying to master it, there are more things to learn and remember than the golf swing.
Intimacy develops through emotions that come from our experiences and thoughts. All those things are in play in almost every interaction with every meaningful person in our lives.
It wouldn't be so hard if you just had to master your own intimacy with family, friends and the opposite sex. Living in relationships means we experience the intimacy of others.
Low maintenance when two mature people are behind the wheel. We all take our hands off of the wheel from time to time but it can be a wild ride when one or both are inexperienced at or have problems disciplining their thoughts and emotions.
I struggled with guilt for the longest time when I had to say 'no' or draw a boundary. I struggle with feeling responsible when people are let down, hurt, angry.
We all struggle with this. It's tough to balance sacrifice and servitude with our own use of time, talent, treasure and desires. It brings great joy to lift up our friends, relatives and the people we love.
We serve Christ by doing things for strangers that are sacrificial with our time, money or talents.
But sometimes we are crossing boundaries that we should not cross.
I had a few experiences this year that taught me a great lesson on a boundary I've had trouble with for years. Acquaintances who can smell compassion in the air from miles away and drive their wrecks into my intimate space to ask me to fix them.
I had always made myself available to comfort a person I classified as a friend who struggled with difficult relatives, and then a difficult boyfriend, and then a health crisis, a difficult friend and then a crisis at work, and then another health crisis and then a financial crisis.
We talked through what to say and do, what each person she spoke with said she should say and do, how the person responded when she finally said and did something and what she should say and do or refrain from saying or doing in response.
Friendships with people who are only seeking company on their rollercoaster are not possible.
You would think I would recognize what was going down because I have been in this amusement park for years going from ride to ride with different people, held hostage by guilt. But this one went on for a few years before I realized I was not in the relationship.
Still, she was in terrible pain and so I continued to accompany and comfort her through the crucibles. I told myself it was service to Christ.
This year, between being sick, spending time with my own friends and relatives, my daughter's wedding, there were several times when I could make myself immediately available.
It turns out, this was not acceptable. Her needs were immediate and she would call and text me messages letting me know how upset she was that I would not stop my life and dig her of her emotional state.
When texting back that I was, literally, at a celebration for my daughter's wedding and this only won me a fifteen minute reprieve from the phone calls and texts, I found myself singing..
I think that life's too short for this,
I want back my ignorance and bliss
I think I've had enough of this,
blow me one last kiss.
I was not teaching her skills. There is no growth. She knows little to nothing about my life. It would never even occur to me to call her if I needed feedback or wanted to see a movie or out to dinner.
When did this woman's emotional state become my responsibility?
I found my freedom in an epiphany I'll share: No matter how upset, angry or unstable she was feeling, SHE is responsible for her emotional state.
It's a longer journey master intimacy and friendship when we desire to err on the side of giving and loving. We never experience regrets, just lessons.