What so many people long for, but never find, is emotional intimacy. They search and search but always come up short. They dive into relationships and experience physical and even sexual intimacy, but emotional intimacy—what their hearts long for, never happens. No matter how many relationships, it eludes them.
Emotional intimacy doesn’t happen on its own. Oh, it might happen for a short while—what I call roller coaster intimacy. It can be what some people experience on an intense vacation or spending spree, but, that is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about experiencing a close emotional connection with someone over many years.
That only happens when two people really love each other and are willing to guard that intimacy. They make sure their words are not stones that inflict wounds on each other. They keep their promises no matter how hard it is. They hold on to the intimacy even when it feels like it’s gone—and amazingly it comes back. Whenever they find confusion in their relationship, they talk it out no matter how hard it seems. They guard this intimacy with mutual honesty, respect, and honor. They share a deep, authentic faith in God and acknowledge that what they have is a gift from him. They cherish each other and what they have because they have learned to treasure their emotional intimacy. The following story illustrates this kind of intimacy.
A book called A Promise Kept is the story of Robertson McQuilkin, a former missionary and seminary president who gave up his post because his wife Muriel had Alzheimer’s disease. He decided to dedicate himself full time for as long as the Lord deemed necessary to take care of his wife.
He wrote of traveling with his wife: Once our flight was delayed in Atlanta and we had to wait a couple of hours. Now that’s a challenge. Every few minutes we’d take a fast-paced walk down the terminal in earnest search of what? Muriel had always been a speed walker. I had to jog to keep up with her.
An attractive woman executive type sat across from us, working diligently on her computer. Once when we returned from an excursion she said something without looking up from her papers. Since no one else was nearby I assumed she had spoken to me, or at least mumbled in protest of our constant activity. “Pardon?” I asked. “Oh,” she said, “I was just was asking myself, “Will I ever find a man to love me like that?”
McQuilkin answered the woman, “Oh yes, you can find a man like that, because I’ve found a man like that. The only reason I love my wife the way you see me loving her is because the man Jesus first loved me. The resources I have to draw upon to love my wife the way I do are the resources he gives me. Mirrored in my relationship here with my wife you can see the faithful love of God for me.”