INCANDESCENT

Sharing + Intimacy

My church, Sowebo Community Church, has been having a "daily debrief" every night since Monday the 16th. This is a time for us to come together, to reflect each day, and to be led together in prayer, community, and God's word.


On Friday, George had us take two minutes in silence to ask, "what is my soul longing for?"


Only one word came to mind: Intimacy.


I immediately tried to shoo this word away (for its often sexual connotations) but it held strong. I needed to consider intimacy, and why my soul was longing for it.


(as a side note, I found out that my friend T had the exact same word come to mind - and I wonder if anyone else in our community also had a longing for intimacy)


Back to it: I N T I M A C Y


My initial thoughts before any search for definitions included:

closeness & togetherness with others. Genuine & heartfelt.


Upon the good ole Google for definitions (highlighting to emphasize):

- close familiarity or friendship; closeness

- "togetherness" "affinity" "warmth" "fellow feeling"

- a private cozy atmosphere

- physical touch

- "mutual vulnerability, openness, and sharing."

- "Intimacy isn't a race" - it takes time to deepen and to mellow

- it takes a willingness to make mistakes & forgive in the name of learning

- conflict is a part of intimacy

- "talking openly about your needs and desires"

- "getting to the intimate core of a relationship requires that both people work through their fear."


"Intimacy means deeply knowing another person and feeling deeply known."


All of these things can be profoundly true of a relationship with Jesus. I feel I've found that -though there is always more and more possible with Him - and that my soul's longing was specifically for interpersonal intimacy.


What will that mean as Maryland has officially become another state to issue a stay-at-home order? Time to learn, I guess!


On my birthday, I spontaneously painted (blue-ish) purple hydrangeas.

Without knowing the meaning. Afterwards, I Googled and found out that purple hydrangeas can symbolize the desire to deeply know someone. I liked that. Little did I know it might have been an unconscious pretext to this little journey of understanding intimacy!

What does this have to do with sharing, anyway?


Well, from my first post in this little sharing series - you read how I've wondered if sharing and vulnerability are possible with social media.


Today on a zoom call for the InterVarsity Virtual Justice Program, Brandi Miller shared from the story of David and Goliath - and how king Saul had put on the "optics" or the appearance of doing the right thing (by having David wear his armor to go fight the giant), while his character revealed that he was putting himself over the good of other people, in fear and complacency.


OPTICS vs. ACTUAL was a poignant theme. What is our actual character? Versus the optics of being a person of justice, of care and compassion, of love? I wrote a poem with similar themes once.


Brandi shared (partial paraphrase), "well, optics are all that we have, right now. With social media we're usually only bringing our very best - but we might be serving people more, now, by sharing where we are actually. This is an invitation to be where we're at." "And what's more just that being fully human and seeing others' humanity?" She shared how this can be a hard thing to do with cancel culture, where one "wrong move" of sharing on social media could bring your whole platform crumbling down - but also show us that we're not the hero ourselves.


How not having a rulebook for what's "right" in this time - not having other people's attention or validation to show us that we are right - means that we can see who we really are. Our character.

"Transparency is not vulnerability." - Brené Brown


So, what does vulnerability look like, on social media? What can it look like? Is it possible?


Today, talking with my friend Meredith, I said, "Transparency is laying your heart out there, and leaving it there - nobody picks it up. Vulnerability is when you lay your heart out there and someone picks it up." Mutuality. Mutual sharing. The opportunity for compassionate response.


"Intimacy means deeply knowing another person and feeling deeply known."


To only deeply know someone is stalking or obsession.

To only be deeply known by someone is prideful or selfish.

To know and be known - to see and be seen - to share?


I don't have a definite answer for this. I think it will need to be lived to be learned. But, I hope to keep sharing as I live and learn. Maybe I learn that all my attempts at vulnerability are just transparency. Maybe I learn that vulnerability IS possible online, even on social media.


Hold on. Let me rewrite. Because you, friend, are a part of this. Thank you for reading. Here is the way I want to say that:

We may not have a definite answer for this. I think we will need to live it to learn it. But, I hope we can share with each other as we live and learn. Maybe we'll learn that all our attempts at vulnerability are just transparency. Maybe we'll learn that vulnerability IS possible online, even on social media.


I invite you into this mutuality - into this sharing - into this (dare I say!) intimacy. Into vulnerability.

I paused this writing to hop on the Zoom call with our Baltimore-area small group for the Virtual Justice Program - and SO MUCH of what we talked about relates to all these thoughts about sharing. Our action items for the day included asking, "have I felt _____ today?" from the feelings inventory - and asking, "have I experienced ______ today?" from the needs inventory.

Kristina shared how she loved asking about the needs inventory in this way, because if she HAD felt ______ (hope, joy, understanding, warmth, etc.) today, then she could also ask, "Have I shared that? Have I given others the opportunity to experience it, too?"


What do you need today?

What have you experienced today, that you can share with someone?


With thanks and love,

~Mia


prayer requests:

- to see my own needs & the needs of others

- to openly share, and openly receive

- grace for all parents in this time