Fraudulent Intimacy

True intimacy always comes with the risk of rejection. Whether real or perceived, when we deliberately push ourselves towards vulnerability and allow ourselves to be known there is a sense of possible rejection. And don’t we all know that risky feeling, wondering even as the words come out of our mouth if we’ll find acceptance from the person we’re sharing with? It doesn’t matter how long we’ve known the person or how recently we met, it doesn’t matter if they share our last name or not; the risk of rejection is real.

That risk is part and parcel to true intimacy.

But the benefit of true intimacy is huge! Think about the emotional benefits of being in a truly intimate relationship, where someone knows your hopes, dreams, fears, failures, passions, criticisms, insecurities, etc. and still accepts you. These words come to mind-

  • Love
  • Acceptance
  • Validation
  • Comfort
  • Safety
  • Respect
  • Security
  • Contentment
  • Peace
  • Joy
  • Belonging
  • Affirmation

Who doesn’t want all that in and from a relationship?! Yet lets not forget…all these come with the risk of rejection. To fully accept the acceptance we long for we must be fully known (to the extent we can know ourselves, for all you existentialists out there). Without being fully known, good, bad and ugly, in the back of our minds we’ll always be asking, “if you really knew me, if you really knew what goes on in my head and in my life, would you still accept me”?

Enter false or fraudulent intimacy.

Fraudulent intimacy is something that resembles true intimacy, giving a brief expression of the benefits, while minimizing and sometimes completely eradicating the risk. The allure is that for a moment, while acting out sexually, we can feel a little dose of love, acceptance, comfort, belonging, etc. without having to risk our hearts by being fully known. But it’s a fraud, ever convincing us that what we’re experiencing is real when all along its smoke and mirrors. The emotional benefits are fleeting, quickly replaced by shame, guilt and a desire to hide. True intimacy always promotes openness, vulnerability and connection. Fraudulent intimacy promotes shame, hiding and isolation.

Remember, the antidote to sexual acting out with pornography, strip clubs, prostitutes and affairs is true intimacy.

Silent Struggle

Last week Shelley and I both had the privilege of speaking at Biola University in La Mirada, Ca. We’ve had other opportunities to speak to students at schools and ministry events through Campus Crusade for Christ, and every time we are blown away.

There is so little pretense.

It is almost like they haven’t had enough time in the Christian sub-culture to figure out they need to wear masks. Or maybe better said, there is still enough sensitivity in their heart that when they are invited into authenticity and transparency they can throw caution to the wind and enter that sacred space.

Shelley and I challenged the students to make a decision to be radically vulnerable about their struggles. We urged them to risk rejection and take the first step to open up. We tried to help them understand the value and reward of true intimacy. We talked about teenage pregnancy, bestiality, shame, guilt, pornography, sex addiction, anorexia and body image, work-aholism, abortion, forgiveness and redemption.

The stories that were relayed back to us from students covered all these topics and more. They were vulnerable, gritty, sometimes empowering and made us want to cheer, other times painful and hopeless, bringing us to tears.

Interestingly, two consistent themes came out as we engaged the students’ stories. First, the reality of a silent struggle. So many times we heard, “I’ve never told anyone” or “I’m afraid to tell anyone that I’ve…” I even received a handwritten letter from a student describing her shame and disappointment of struggling with repetitive sexual sin, and I’m the first person she has told [written to].

The second theme was that of divorce in the home. Several students came up and said their folks are currently or have recently divorced due to sexual integrity issues. One girl, in tears, talked about how at 20 she’s realizing that her father’s sexual sin has affected her deeply. It pains her to see her mom so resentful and bitter, and her dad simply declares it covered in the blood of Jesus so it doesn’t need to be spoken of again. Heartbreaking.

All in all, I walked away from that campus with hope. Hope because of the raw, unfiltered, willingness of the students to engage difficult topics. Hope because the faculty and staff decided its important enough to address from the main stage and create an open dialogue about. Hope because God is still in the business of redemption and those stories we heard are, for many, a turning point that will change the entire course of their lives and legacies.

If you are in the silent struggle, it doesn’t have to be that way any longer. If you are the ones divorcing with college age children, it doesn’t have to be that way any longer. Change, real lasting change, may be right around the corner.

Purposeful Prayer

One of the great things about purposeful prayer is that it can center us. It can anchor us to the truths and realities of our identity in Christ, even when the waves of life feel like they’re crashing over us. Further, purposeful prayer can remind us where we are going. By inviting God into particular places in our journey, we do ourselves a favor by taking note of where we are and where it is we’re trying to go. We can invite God into the present, pray for his help reaching the destination he designates, and also to help us develop the character He desires in us along the way.

I find purposeful prayer especially helpful when I know I’m headed into a circumstance where my integrity may be challenged. For example, on Thursday I’ll be driving to the airport for the next Every Mans Battle Workshop. I know that I’m driving towards an environment where I better be on my A-game. Not only is the airport a temptation filled placed because of the people, but also because in my past life of addiction I would use the anonymity of traveling to other cities to act out. I used to get excited and feel the drip of adrenaline just driving to the airport, knowing I was going to become a different person. Now I know that the electricity associated with that drive it is a trap; giving it attention or acknowledgement is a step towards forfeiting my integrity.

So, knowing I’m headed into that space requires me to prepare with purposeful prayer. Month after month on the drive I pray this prayer:

 God, help me be a man of integrity as I walk into that airport. When I’m on the plane, or at the hotel, help me honor you, my wife, my boys, my self, my clients, my ministry and my recovery. Help me honor you with my words, with my eyes, with my mind, with my hands and with my heart. Help me be a man worthy of the call you’ve put on my life. Amen.

What situations do you know in advance will challenge your integrity? What prayer can you pray to help center and anchor you to be the man God has called you to be? I urge you to write yours down and review it often.

PS: this idea of purposeful prayer is a part of the additional tools I’ve included in the Worthy of Her Trust Toolkit. I developed this ebook to summarize the key points of Worthy of Her Trust, as well as to provide additional prayers, exercises and Scripture to help with the process. You can purchase and download that resource HERE.