Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Intimacy, Affirmation and Fellowship

Intimacy means a feeling or atmosphere of closeness and openness towards someone else, not necessarily involving sexuality.

Affirmation means a declaration that something is true.

Fellowship means a company of people that shares the same interest or aim or a feeling of friendship, relatedness or connection between people.

In a world of semantics the lines between the definitions can become quite blurred. From a standpoint of individual context each person may relate to a category in an entirely different light than definition allows.
It could be stated that in a world of social networking where a phone or computer relates personal information instantaneously to the world, it may be believed, that intimacy is what we are all about. I disagree. Stating on a social network your current 'status' is merely an attempt to attain a level of significance otherwise lacking in your life due partly to the absence or lack of intimacy.

Intimacy requires first; fellowship, hence the purpose of social networks, however the failings of social networks are a result of a distance, due to the absence of personal contact (i.e. eyes, ears, presence) and the sense of ambiguity without those 'in presence' cues attained.

The key aspect of intimacy arrives in life through the word openness. This is the crux of relationships. Realationships (spelling intentional; see previous posts) are built and based on openness. We can only move so far in our relationships and the degree to which we desire to have relationship is pivotal upon the level of intimacy we feel or are willing to extend ourselves to achieve. Openness is not the declaration of a 'status' but the communication of heart issues to 'one another' where that communication is safeguarded and affirmed. This sounds incredibly complicated, but in reality it is a simple process of growth and development. We all desire and more importantly, need those realationships that attain this level of personal commitment and openness.
The truth is that affirmation, another needed element of our life's journey, is only true where intimacy is prevalent.

A friend of mine recently told me that flattery and intimidation both require the same element, a willing receiver. Affirmation is not about flattery nor does it have to be intimidating in placing burdens upon people for the purpose of getting more out of them. Affirmation must be a heart issue. A man affirming another man with the words which strike the chords of his heart and edify his purpose, his goals. "As iron sharpens iron ..."
This must be understood in the context of affirmation, not in the context of critiquing, chastising or chastening.
Affirmation means exciting another: to reflect, knowing what he believes and why; to investigate, diving deeply into motivations, instigation's and reasons; and to illustrate, coloring in the boxes of our lives, filling in the blanks where personal thoughts have failed. This requires open realationships with men who can challenge without condemning; stimulate thought without retarding personal inquiry or judging personal behaviour and responses; and men who can focus on the man in front of them without involving their own egos, in other words dealing with the thought and not the thinker. It means 'majoring in the majors and minoring in the minors" not the oft cited converse of this maxim.
This entire discussion is a result of a conversation with a man who is all these things to me, and for the most part these are words which were used in that conversation.
People believe they have intimate realtionships, personally I would challenge that thought. The question that has to be asked is simple and poignant.
Is there a friend in your life that you could on any occasion, with any personal topic, go to and receive understanding, compassion, kindness and affirmation? By 'any' I mean 'any' topic ...
I believe affirmation involves knowing the heart of the man in front of you, it also means he must know the heart of the man in front of him. That level of trust only comes with intimacy, it is not about knowing and having the power to divulge information, it is not leverage knowing if he tells all, I tell all, that is not trust, that is fear by taking hostage privileged knowledge.
As men in this world we are guarded, perhaps myself more so then others. We fear the exposure, we fear the repercussions, we are being held powerless by our own sins and the status quo created by those sins and men do not want other men to know they are weak, period.
James 5:16, Confess your trespasses (faults, flaws, weaknesses) to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed."
Mutual honesty, openness and the sharing of needs is an enabling aspect, and probably the most important and critical aspect of Christian community which will enable and uphold each of us in our spiritual struggles.

We hide nothing from God so why fear?

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