I tend to mix together my desire for intimacy with my worth. That’s dangerous. Intimacy is something that’s meant to be shared between two people and not earned for the sake of increasing my self-worth.
The core of this problem is that I think I need to earn intimacy with another person.
It’s very natural for me to believe that if I want something then I have to work for it and earn it. That’s not exactly a bad idea and yet it can lead to a destructive perspective when it comes to women and relationships. For example, I have this idea that if I’m a good guy and love Jesus then God will reward me with a wife.
Simply put, if I live up to a certain level of performance then I should get a wife.
This approach makes sense in our American culture because we tend to think that we have to work to get the things that we want. It also makes sense if our church tells us that we need to live up to standards instead of responding to God’s love. Many times growing up, people told me that if I wanted a certain kind of life I needed to be a good enough man.
The more Scripture that I read the less confident I am in this idea.
There is a surprising lack of verses in the Bible about how to earn a comfortable and quiet life. On the other hand, there are plenty of verses in that warn us about the difficulty of the Christian life. Throughout the New Testament, we’re told that we’re going to have plenty of trials and tribulations. (James 1:2, Romans 5:3, 1 Peter 1:6)
If we look at the leading characters of the New Testament, we see that following Jesus usually doesn’t lead to a life of ease and pleasure. The list of Christian martyrs starts with John the Baptist, Stephen, both James, Paul, Peter, Timothy and doesn’t end there. Our American culture has infected some of our beliefs about the Christian life and we must accept that following Christ is not a way to earn better circumstances.
That said, I recognize that applying that truth is easier said than done. Even though I realized this truth awhile back, my thoughts about finding a wife still turn back to whether I am good enough to deserve a wife. While a successful marriage does require a real man (1 Corinthians 16:13 & Ephesians 5:25), trying to earn a wife through performance and learning to love like Christ are not the same thing.
Ephesians 5 calls us to love our wives in the same way that Christ loves the Church and if that is the goal then I have been starting off on the wrong foot every time I approach dating a girl.
Jesus’ love and sacrifice for the Church started when He decided that equality with God was not something to be grasped. In other words, He started with humility. On the other hand, my attempts to earn a wife all start with pride and arrogance.
In the past, I assumed that my physical appearance, faith in Jesus, and being a responsible guy were all good enough to get a wife. EVEN IF THAT WERE TRUE, all of it was based on MY standards and I was starting off with pride and not humility.
Even if God gave me a wife, I would be starting on the wrong foot and I would be missing out on the incredible joy and peace that comes when you start something with humility.
Whenever I assume that I’ve earned something, I am now a prisoner to that thing. For example, I’ve had the disgusting thought that because I’m attractive any girl should at least be interested in me for that reason alone. That idea made me think that I was desired for my physical appearance and that if I wasn’t attractive then I wouldn’t be desirable.
Even though I didn’t always put my worth in being attractive, I fell into this very tragic perspective on a variety of subjects quite often. In my head being funny or serving others was supposed to attract girls, but in truth it made me a very sad prisoner to those things. I started off thinking that they would increase my worth and ended up thinking that without them I was worthless.
Many single people fall into the trap of thinking that they need to improve themselves in order to attract others. That sounded like a great idea to me, but it eventually backfired on me whenever I wasn’t dating anyone. I found myself thinking that if I didn’t have intimacy I was worthless because my attempts to improve myself had failed.
I’m not the only person who struggles with this problem. This is one of those games that we play in our heads but never talk about it. The first step in dealing with this problem is bringing it into the light.
I didn’t really start seeing this problem until I told my accountability partner some of the thoughts that flew around in my head while I was thinking about attracting the attention of a girl. While it’s super awkward to verbalize some of the more intense thoughts that pop into our minds, we can’t find peace or freedom from those doubts and fears until we do. We’ve got to come clean about all our doubts, fears, and anxieties in singleness and dating or they will continue to own our thoughts and poison us.
While it may not seem like a life changing thing to get your thoughts out into the open, it’s incredible important because there is no other way to deal with them. We can’t deal with these thoughts until we bring them to the light. As long as we try to earn intimacy or find our worth in intimacy, we will remain prisoners to our performance and miss out on the freedom and grace that God desperately wants to give us.
God offers us immeasurable worth and intimacy that we could never earn. We just have to ask for it and then ask Him to remind us of it a few million times.
Image Copyright: Christopher Michelby
1 CommentLEAVE A COMMENT
Jul 25, 2014
Thanks for sharing and being so transparent. I can completely relate, both in my single life and now after being blessed with a wonderful Godly husband. I have struggled with low self worth and feeling like I am not worthy of intimacy even inside marriage, so just finding a Godly spouse will not magically make this problem go away. It has lead to me putting up walls and closing off areas of my heart which have caused intimacy problems in our marriage. Thank God that He blessed me with the most loving and patient man who is willing to help me through this. So, I encourage all who are single and struggle with this, take this time as a blessing to learn to overcome this issue and wait for the person God has for you, don’t rush out of impatience. I was 30 before I met my husband and 31 when we got married. God is so good and so amazing, He blesses us beyond what we could ever think or imagine. Again thank you for sharing, this helped me and I am sure will help many others!