What really matters? Developing Spiritual Intimacy

08 Sep

He who dies with the most toys…

We all snicker at the bumper sticker proclaiming that recipe for winning at life. All of us search for meaning in our lives that goes deeper than the stuff we own or the titles we have attached to our names.

In my last blog I wrote about emotional intimacy and how it can involve sharing our experiences of life at its greatest intensity: feeling loved, afraid, hurt, or lonely. Today I am exploring spiritual intimacy, which is the second type of intimacy that can touch our core selves. To create spiritual intimacy I share:
-what is most important to me
-what I believe about God/the transcendent
-how I experience God/the transcendent

Many couples never risk deep spiritual intimacy. They may sit in a pew together but never share how the service resonates with their heart. You may have difficulty sharing your spiritual journey because you suffered spiritual abuse as a child from a legalistic religious system. You may fear judgment if you open up about spiritual doubts or questions.

So why should you take the risk of opening up about your spiritual journey? For one, because it has the potential to deepen the love between you and your partner as you both feel accepted and cared about at that deep level. But secondly, opening up about your own spiritual journey is your best method of getting assistance for journeying further along your spiritual path. The Apostle Paul encouraged the Christians in Ephesis to “speak the truth in love” to each other as a means of not only strengthening their relationships with each other, but also as a means of growing individually (chapter 4, verses 15 and 16).

So I urge you to invite your partner to take some steps toward deeper spiritual intimacy. You might try any of the following:

-Each person agrees to bring something written that has been personally meaningful. This might be a scripture, a poem, or a story. Then the person shares how it has been meaningful.

-Each week for one month take turns sharing a religious practice with your partner. Perhaps the first week your partner joins you in a daily meditation that you like to do and then the next week you attend a church service that your partner likes to attend, etc. Afterwards, discuss what was meaningful and how you felt doing the practice together.

-Share your spiritual life graph. Take a piece of paper on which the years of your life are represented left to right and your spiritual ups and downs are represented by a line graph. Draw pictures to represent significant spiritual experiences. Then share your graphs with each other.

-Share with your partner your answers to the following questions:
—What is most important in life?
—What character trait would you most like to be remembered for?
—What was one negative religious experience you had growing up?
—What was one positive religious experience you had growing up?
—What were you taught to believe as a child? Have you come to have those spiritual beliefs?
—What spiritual principle do you want to guide your life?
—How would you like your partner to support you in your spiritual journey?

By Tom Olschner