A huge buzz word in the west’s Christian culture right now is the word “relationship.”
You hear over and over again that Christianity is “not a religion, it’s a relationship.” And “it’s all about a relationship with Jesus.” Honestly, there’s a significant amount of truth to this. I would consider my own Christian walk to simply be a relationship with God.
But when a word is thrown around so often, it begins to lose its meaning as people start using it who don’t necessarily speak from personal experience and understanding. Added to a culture that collectively has lost its view of healthy, functional, relationships and created a huge controversy (in and out of the church) of what it means to love and what it means to tolerate and how it’s even possible to be a Christian while still upholding our values, it seems that the word “relationship,” as a hype, can be more confusing than helpful.
Seriously… what does it look like to have a relationship with God, on a practical day-to-day basis?
Recently, God’s been teaching me a lot about intimacy in relationships. And I don’t just mean the romantic ones. The dictionary defines intimacy as simply close familiarity or friendship; some synonyms being closeness, togetherness, attachment, and familiarity. Every relationship you have has a level of intimacy involved. For many, it’s simply acquaintance, you have zero to very few points of familiarity. But you discover these over time as you get to know someone. Now, think of your closest friends- the people who know you for you… your tendencies, your thought processes, your likes and dislikes… they are familiar with who you are as a person and you are comfortable as that person around them. You, in turn, are familiar with who they are. Thus, you are able to be close, possessing a unique kind of togetherness in your comfortable familiarity.
That is intimacy. It is a very precious, and often rare, gift. It takes a lot of time, commitment, and love to develop intimacy. Intentionality, forgiveness, and selflessness are also necessary. While often difficult, these kind of relationships are so very life-giving. One of the reasons marriage is such a beautiful thing is because it is the most intimate of human relationships. But, before even our spouses, we are called to love God with our entire beings (Luke 10:27).
Intimacy is the nuts and bolts of relationship. With a lot of people, you must do the dance of finding how intimate you can be… what can you find as familiar in each other? What should you let this other person know about you? Where is it appropriate/not to be vulnerable? What do you both find funny?… etc.
But then there’s God. Who already knows you, completely. Psalm 139 says “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me… you are familiar with all my ways… Where can I go from your Spirit? … For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb… My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place… all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (verses 1, 3b, 7a, 13, 15a, and 16). So… He seems pretty familiar with me. Intimacy with Him should be a walk in the park, right?
Yes… but then there’s me… there’s humanity. We tend to think, even subconsciously, that we can hide certain parts of ourselves from God, or that God doesn’t want to see the ugly pieces, or that we can handle the little things ourselves, so no need to bother Him, right? Even though He already knows all those things, we don’t share with Him. We often only take our “good side” when we pray. We cannot be intimate with Him over the things that we struggle with or that make us so unique when we say no to that sharing of familiarity, that togetherness, that closeness that is the very essence of intimacy and relationship.
I have found intimacy with God in transformational honesty.
Honesty: complete and utter vulnerability before Him saying “this is me, in all my naked brokenness, all my hurting wounds, all my ugly sin.” Transformational: trust that He will come through on His promises and that He has the capacity to heal me. Because He does. And He will. He’s already paid for that sin, His already purchased the right to make us like Him, why wouldn’t He finish the good work that He started?
Honesty with God can be so easy. He already knows, so what’s the point in trying to hide? If you’re angry with Him, tell Him. He won’t be offended. He can handle your rage. If you’re afraid, let Him know. He knows why you’re afraid and exactly how to give you peace. If you’re having trouble trusting Him, you can tell Him that too. Take the risk, be vulnerable, He won’t strike you down with lightning. If you’re willing to trust Him with your issues, I’ve found that He’s more than happy to help. It’s almost as if He just loves to see your true self come around. I think you might be surprised at how quickly your heart and your struggles begin to change for the better.
This is what my relationship with God looks like on a day-to-day basis. Only now, after years and years of sharing the most fragile parts of myself with a God who never once betrayed my trust, I have a strong foundation of faith in His goodness. Sometimes, He doesn’t seem to be answering right away… maybe He’s testing me, or teaching me, or loving me in a way I didn’t know I needed… but that’s okay. I trust Him. Because He has always pulled through when I have needed Him the most.
And a bi-product of being truly known? Security. When you’ve shown the most dusty, spider-infested corners of your heart to someone and you were still loved, completely and perfectly loved, there’s not much that can bring you down, not a whole lot that can touch your identity. Especially after that perfectly loving someone begins to take some Holy Raid and a clean duster to those cobweb-laced corners and the dirty begins to disappear. So. I agree! It is more than simply religion. It’s vulnerability… that creates intimacy… that inspires love… that grows faith… that moves mountains.
It’s a relationship; It’s The Relationship.
The above article was written by my friend, Lydia Heston. There is so much profound wisdom within it, so I requested her permission to share it with my blog-followers. If you enjoy her work, then please consider visiting her blog at inspiredtoimpact.blogspot.com