Intimacy

In this world of technology, relationship may not seem very intimate. You can text greetings, and send emojis with smiles and hearts, but is that intimacy? Or does it contribute to intimacy? Is physical presence a necessary part of intimacy?

An Anniversary card from my husband can be full of lots of beautiful sentiments. It may give me a sense of intimacy, or a desire for intimacy with him. Does it increase my feelings of intimacy toward him? One would hope so.

What comes to  mind when you see the word “intimacy”? For most, it may be a term that makes one think of sexual intimacy. And if it makes you uneasy, it may be because we just really don’t understand what intimacy is.

Dictionary.com defines “intimacy” as:

noun, plural intimacies.
1. the state of being intimate.
2. a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.

3. a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.: an intimacy with Japan.

4. an act or expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, or the like:to allow the intimacy of using first names.

5. an amorously familiar act; liberty.
6. sexual intercourse.

7. the quality of being comfortable, warm, or familiar:the intimacy of the room.

I was not impressed with these definitions as I don’t think they go far enough to describe what I have come to understand as intimacy.
Intimacy is to know and be known by another, allowing me to be completely free to express myself safely and with all the fullness of who I am. 
In that context, how much intimacy do we really have in our relationships? How often have you had sex with your spouse and felt the intimacy I defined above? And whose responsibility is it to grow intimacy?
I believe to know and be known fully by someone with whom you have a loving relationship is the cry of our hearts. And it also brings up great fear. If you saw into me and who I really am, would you still love me? So we hesitate to reveal everything that we think is the least bit negative  or distasteful in the hopes of keeping the doors of love open.
I grew up and married into an environment that dictated that love and sex were interchangeable. If I said I loved this man, then sex was expected. He said he loved me to get sex. We enter into a physically intimate relationship, become one physically, but spiritually and emotionally are left empty. There has to be more. Because sex does not hold a relationship together. Intimacy does.
Since I had never truly experienced intimacy as I defined it above, and knew that it was exactly what I wanted, I gave up. Maybe my brokenness was such that I would never know that because there was no one I felt safe enough with to let them see the good and the bad and the ugly inside of me that made me feel competely unloveable.
And then Jesus happened.
My biggest struggle with following Jesus was that I wasn’t loveable. Or so I thought. But He didn’t care. He couldn’t see that because that wasn’t who I was. I was created loveable, and He already loved me e even before I was in my mother’s womb. And apparently there was nothing I could do to make Him stop loving me.
Now that is the firstfruit of intimacy.  To love unconditionally. that is what He does.
When loved like that, it is hard to resist loving back. And the more He proved to be true to His word that He loved me no matter what, i felt free to be real. I decided I wanted more of Him and the more I gave of me, the more I got of Him. The more I let him in, the more He showed me who He was. And we began an amazing love affair. Mutual admiration and desire to be known and to know. Now I pursuse Him and He pursues me right back.
How do you get there? You align yourself with the only one who truly knows you, because He created you and designed every intimate detail of who you are. He created you for a purpose and is deeply invested in seeing that purpose fulfilled, in spite of your poor self image. Eventually His persistence breaks through that self image and you begin to see who YOU really are, and you want Him and the rest of the world to see that person as well.
Intimacy breeds intimacy. Soon it moves beyond who you are to wanting others to know who they are. So you engage, take a risk, get vulnerable with others so that maybe they will feel safe getting vulnerable with you. And with persistence, and love, and patience, they find themselves wanting the same intimacy you have.
The best marriages happen when two people are individually intimate with the One true Lover of their souls, and in that safety, they can risk everything to be truly known by this person they are married to.  Human intimacy is imperfect, so it makes it real nice to have the arms of Jesus to fall back into when the road gets difficult. And He will prop you right back on your feet  to take the risk again. And you will. Because He is right there to catch you and pick you up again.
So no, to answer my original question, you don’t have to have physical presence to know intimacy. The Bible is full of sentimental words of love that can fill that emptiness in you. Text messages and cards to the object of your affection can’t hurt. The Bible is our love letter from God.

However, intimacy is something that needs to be experienced. And Holy Spirit makes that possible. You cannot have intimacy in your head. It belongs in your heart, and through your spirit, there is the possibility to actually feel the presence of the one who loves you, the object of your affection – Jesus.

Just remember that we were created for relationship, and the best ones are face to face, where real hugs, and real eye contact can remind you that you are a real person, and made for this kind of intimacy. Just start with Jesus.

Chosen

Oh, to be chosen. We stand in the PE class while the team captains make their decisions of who they want on the team. Our insides are screaming, “choose me, choose me”, while at the same time feeling worthless and doubtful we are good enough. We try out for cheerleader, hoping they will see our enthusiasm and talent, while at the same time not sure we really made the cut.

And then, the finger of fate points at us and we are IN, CHOSEN! You win, you get to play, YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH!

Jesus stands at the door, knocking, waiting for us to answer, to choose him back, because he first chose us. We are born already chosen. Why are we not screaming, “Yay I am chosen, I am good enough, thank you Jesus, and now I choose you!” ?

Perhaps we are stuck thinking we need to earn it. To earn being chosen. And so we simply can’t believe Jesus chose us because we didn’t do anything to deserve it. Right? So we ignore the knock on the door quite sure it is for someone else and not me.

I did that. I ignored the knock, as I was quite sure I was completely unloveable. Performance surrounded my home, and love was withdrawn if performance was bad. So if I opened that door, what would I have to do to earn and be chosen? Or would I get unchosen later when I messed up?

Even when I first discovered Jesus was calling, I was fearful he would send me to Africa on a mission trip to complete strangers where I would have to sleep on the ground and eat awful food! See, immediately, I expected performance to be part of the exchange. Sure, you are knocking and you want me to follow you, just so you can mess with me and make me something I am not sure i want to be. No thanks!

The truth is always more risky than lies. None of that was true. The enemy of our souls was trying to keep me from the one truth that would save me from ever having to perform again.

Jesus did all the performing we will ever need. He knocks on the door because He knows that in Him and Him alone all the desires of  my heart would be fulfilled. No Africa, but the children I wanted to have. No bare ground, but a home with warm beds where I could nurture those children. No strange food, but an abundance of everything I could ever have dreamed I could enjoy.

He knows the desires of your heart. He created you that way. You were chosen for this time and for this season and to be doing exactly what you are doing. The greatest proof of His choosing is that He conceived of YOU in his heart and mind before the foundations of the world, and He chooses you now to let Him be the Lord and Savior of your life.

Choose Him back. Let Him prove to you that the choice you are making will change your life forever. You will realize the best choice ever made was when he said “I choose you” and you said “Yes”.Just trust Me

Why Resurrection Sunday is my Favorite Holy Day

the fresh burst of spring is my favorite time of year. I live in an area where the hilite of spring is the Tulip Festival. As pictured above, the spring flowers are in full blossom. My favorite flower of all is the tulip, as it reflects back to my Dutch roots. The variety and texture of tulips always astounds me each time I get up close and personal with them in April.

There is a lot of symbolism around this season. Lambs and bunnies, eggs and baskets, crosses and  crowns of thorns, all describe and witness to a season of endings and new beginnings. It is not all sacred, much of the celebration is secular. And I love it all.

For three months, the ground has been frozen, holding on to the life buried beneath, just waiting for the time to begin to burst above ground. It is as if those flowers just can’t wait for the ooohs and ahhhs awaiting them.

Not unlike the burial and resurrection of Jesus that we celebrate over Easter weekend. As the winter temperatures freeze out the flowers, so did sin freeze out the life of Jesus. He took all of our sin to the cross and all of our sin was buried there with him. And three days later, we celebrate the Halleluiah of His resurrection, telling us there is hope and new life available. We no longer remember the winter for the spring has come.

New life means new hope. Eggs are new life that eventually becomes a chicken. Lamb is new life that eventually becomes a Sheep. And Jesus is the new life that represents our opportunity to become His child and grow into the fullness of what He created us to be.

What does that fullness look like? What exactly is this hope, this new life, about? And why do we celebrate it so exuberantly?

Resurrection means death did not win. Jesus did not die, and that was the end of it. Those perennials you planted didn’t die, they came back to life under the right conditions. There would be no hope for us if Jesus had not resurrected. He would have been just another man, another teacher, another disappointment. All that He had done on earth, all of the miracles and brilliant words, would have been equal to the likes of Muhammed or Buddha. One united faith would have seemed logical.

But what God did through Jesus defies logic and changes everything. We who believe in Jesus who died and rose know that we have access to something no one of any religion has. It is not a religion, it is a relationship with the one who said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Now when I see those tulips reaching up to heaven from out of the ground, I don’t complain of the secularization of Easter. I rejoice that we can find God in every part of the holidays because He was there first. He enjoys those tulip fields too, and he would probably love hard boiled and decorated eggs. For they are a reminder of the beginning of hope.

 

 

The Journey Begins

Glittering Images. The words were constantly interrupting my thoughts. What is it that God was trying to tell me? I knew it was at the core of this book, the deep visceral understanding I had of identity that still was struggling to surface. Glittering Images.

One early morning I realized that my life had too often been a pursuit of glittering images rather than my true identity. Glittering images is the direct antithesis to True Identity. There was a war all of my life to uncover the true Angela buried under the glittering images of expectations and performance. What is pleasing to man is rarely pleasing to God. He had conceived of me back when he created woman, with that same pronouncement of “This is good”.  Angela was conceived in God’s heart and planned for this time to be in this world called earth. He saw something in me that glittered like gold, that was My Shine, and he was determined to release the fullness of Me into the world he had planned for me. Through the parents and family he chose for me. Through the family I would have. Through the friends and loved ones that would enter my path. He knew I would get buried under Glittering Images that would try to cover and kill the true image I was created to be – The reflection of Christ. We are meant to look in the mirror each day and see Christ. Each of us carries a part of the heart of Jesus, a piece of the whole, and that piece is ours to carry into eternity. Unfortunately, we often prefer someone else’s piece to our own, their glittering image to our own destiny and we fall prey to being an appearance of the real thing.

No more, I cried that morning. I am finished. No matter what I will allow the true identity of who you saw that moment of creation when you said, Let there be Angela, and you looked at me and said, this is Good. I shed the glittering image I was wearing and knew that the answer was to be who I am at this moment in time. I rest in the truth that I am far from perfected, and I have a limited lens. I will seek daily to receive your lens, not only for seeing myself truly as I am, but others as you see them. It is a solemn journey that brings great joy to my heart.

Rock on, Angela. Rock on.

Taking Care of Me

We women are givers and nurturers by nature, aren’t we?  There is some part of our identity that says we are not allowed to take care of ourselves because there are so many needs out there that require our constant presence.

Add to that the rhetoric we learn at home, church, and family. A stay at home Mom is riduculed when her husband comes home to messy floors and sinks full of dishes, wondering what has she done all day? The working Mom is expected to keep up the house and all the needs of the family as well as work full time, because those are the chores of women. Or maybe you just watched your Mom sacrifice herself for the sake of her husband needing to be the breadwinner so she could serve  his needs properly.

Whatever the source of your messages, the reality is we have not been taught to take a break, rest, take care of ourselves. Some of us hoped that when our kids were grown, they would take care of us. Or when the kids were gone, our husbands would. It can be a bit of a shock when they just don’t know how because we never declared we needed anything. How many divorces have you seen occur after the kids left home and the husband and wife looked at each other with dismay – who are you?

I love the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes. I love Evelyn, played by Kathy Bates, as she declares her independence by tearing down walls in the house, her husband oblivious as long as he  had his beer and dinner ready. You watch her blossom into a real person who starts doing what pleases her, and, in  miraculous  Hollywood predictability, her husband finally sees the light. The truth is, she needed to show him the light.

Here is the light I want to shine on you this day. Remember every day the admonition of the flight attendants in the airplane telling  you that when the oxygen mask drops down, make sure you inhale first before putting the mask on the child or elderly adult next to you. The message is, you are no good to them dead!

How do you fill up your oxygen? Can you breath hope into someone else if you have none? Can you pour out if you are empty? Where is the other side of the nursery rhyme, “I’m a little teapot, short and stout, just tip me over and pour me out.” How about “I’m a little teapot empty and dry, just fill me up and I will fly.”

Women need women. Men fill only one part of your tank. Women who love and cherish you are out there. Sometimes you just can’t see them, or they are only people who have been receiving from you for so long, they are sure you are strong enough to handle everything! Such a lie! And how hard is it to go to those people with your problems? How many have just shrugged their shoulders and walked away saying, that’s what I have YOU for!

Crocadile Dundee makes a classic statement in the  movie of the same name. “Hasn’t she got any mates?” he asks, after Sue explains to him what a psychiatrist is. Mates indeed. America is a culture where it seems we have to pay for a Mate to talk to.

I was given an assignment years ago when I was meeting with my expensive Mate.  She said to find 4-5 women in my circle to befriend and spend time with. I was sure there were none. My counselor said that I would be surprised how close they were if I just looked past the needy ones. She was right. I just hadn’t recognized the need, nor considered they too might need a mate as well. My horizons expanded. Of course it meant a time of letting go of those I had called friends who were actually just sucking me dry. Those I kept to a minimum, making sure that first I filled my tank before pouring out.

It is a work in progress. I fall prey to the empty cup syndrome off and on and have to step back to a place of R & R (Rest and Recuperation) for a season to get replenished.

The principle of rest is one found in the Bible. God rested on the seventh day. He offers us a model for rest. We all need a Seventh Day in our lives. For some it may only be an hour or two. Just see what happens when you look at that busy calendar and mark off in bright red, “ME TIME”. It is a gift from God to you if you are willing to receive it.

 

 

 

 

 

First blog post

I wrote a book, soon to be published, and then thought perhaps I should do a blog, and a web page, in that order.

Hi. This is Angela Joy. I am new to this so please be patient. I am kind of doing this backward. I wrote a book, soon to be published, and then thought perhaps I should do a blog and a web page. If you read my book, that about fits with my style anyway. I back myself into a lot of siturations. but God…..

Yes this is about but God…. who He shows up to be in the times when you are pretty sure He doesn’t exist. Or care. Or even remember you. But He does. Exist. and care. and remember. He created me. it’s that simple. And He cares a great deal about his creation. That would be me. And He cares the same for you.

I am no one more special than you. And I am just as special as you. We are His favorites. So I wanted my written words to express myself and perhaps speak into things in your life that have been hard to explain or understand. If you only knew we are all in this together.

Each moment of each day is a gift. You are a gift. What you have been given is meant to be given back. I hope you will. We will all be the better for it.