Yes, I’m going there. Put on your seatbelt.
Candidly, I’ve had some of these thoughts since this Christian man married a beautiful Christian woman in 1983. I was reluctant to ever talk about these insights except with my wife. I was afraid people might not understand. I feared they would think poorly of me or question my motives. However, even when I was younger my motives were pure about this insight.
But now, I’ve been through a journey of grief, and you’re going to give me a lot of grace as I contemplate “out loud” the topic of intimacy lost and intimacy gained. Don’t worry, I’m going to be very careful, once again, and try to keep this from being uncomfortable. I am aware of the need to be careful with my words and avoid any sort of coarse language.
I still remember the first moment I saw a young woman. I would later learn her name was Kimberly Elaine Plumblee. It was the summer of 1981 in Athens, Georgia. We were at a break during the first day of class at the University of Georgia, and she was standing near a Coke machine. She was wearing a purple polka-dotted dress. Yes, I noticed. I’m a man who normally doesn’t notice the color of your shoes or shirt. I’m just not that observant. Here I am nearly forty years later, and I remember Kim’s dress.
Get off your high horse and hear what I’m saying and not what I’m not saying. Men notice and are attracted by sight. At least at first. Yes, it can go awry, but it’s how God made us. Sure, it requires discipline, but that doesn’t make it wrong.
I was attracted to Kim. Eventually, I pursued her. She slowed down long enough for me to catch her, and we married on July 30, 1983.
As a twenty-three-year-old young man, I was introduced to intimacy. But that’s not what I was thinking about at first. Again, get off your high horse!
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
One flesh. Oneness. Intimacy. Marriage is a doorway.
You’re leaving father and mother on one side of the door, and you walk through the door. You close the door behind you and hold fast and become one flesh.
Private. Between a man and a woman. Blissful. Bonds are formed over time and before you know it you begin to contemplate and reflect upon what has happened. You’re no longer one person. You’re connected to someone—physically at first. But later, you recognize the emotional and spiritual oneness that has emerged.
This intimacy is so much deeper, more profound than physical love alone.
You stand in awe at God’s design. You are known and loved, and you know and love. Oneness takes on dimensions. Its invisible tentacles begin to invade every part of you, and you rest in the joy and comfort of belonging. You are changed. The allure of attraction goes deeper, much deeper. This is not about you meeting your needs. You recognize you would serve this other person in any way.
That’s when it first happened for me. I realized intimacy with my wife was a holy picture. I’ve read the verses, of course. I believed the verses. But experiencing the verses was different.
“This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:32
After lining out marital and relational instruction, Paul says that he’s addressing a profound mystery that is about Christ and the church. In one of the most important mysteries ever unveiled, Paul gives marriage—and intimacy—an eternal and not only a temporal purpose.
That’s why marriage is so important. More important than most of us realize. Or we’d protect it.
The beauty of intimacy between a man and woman is revealing something of the intimacy of Christ and the church. I had some of these insights as a young man, and it changed my understanding of my relationship.
When Kim died, our intimacy died. Death has stolen her from me.
However, my experience of intimacy lost was eclipsed by an intimacy gained. And this is not simply talk.
Intimacy that foreshadows a relationship between Christ and the church was lost and now had to live up to its promised shadow of intimacy.
In death, intimacy was gained. With our good Father. With a sacrificing Son. With the comforting Spirit.
Intimacy lost gave birth to intimacy gained.
“The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.” John 3:29
Note: In God’s grace and after a journey through loss, I have been blessed to marry Amanda. This entry, written about a year ago, has taken on new meaning as I release it. Amanda was wearing a rust-colored shirt under a blue-jean jacket the day I asked her out.