Having just come from coffee with a friend my brain is burbling over with fresh thoughts. That's one of the reasons I love my friends so much. Every meeting renews me and sends my thoughts whirling about in new directions. Even the most commonplace conversations can lead to fresh insights. On the way home from visiting with this particular friend my thoughts turned to the question of intimacy. As a married woman I am in the most intimate of all relationships. I share my living space, my daily experiences, and my body with one person. As the Bible says, "Abraham knew Sarah," and Allen knows me. And yet I still crave intimacy. I want to dig into people's heads and find out what they're thinking and feeling. I want to see their bleeding, brilliant, throbbing hearts and hear their stories about the scars on their souls. Sometimes. I admit that I'm not always the most compassionate and involved person. At times it's easier to camp out with my novels and my web comics than get out there and really try to care. Despite my apathy though there are some people who make me want to dive into their lives. I want them to pull me in and teach me to hear the voice of God and find His footprints in their lives. I want to find a tiny part of myself in this person who is so different from me and who yet has been bound to me by the waters of baptism and wine of Christ's blood. Unfortunately there are so many times that just doesn't happen. Sometimes conversations lag and struggle to find ground. Other times we completely fail to invest in the other person, to catch the clues to their struggles because we are so caught up what we want to say and all we have to tell. I suppose I should say "I."
What struck me on the way home though was that this painful struggle for real friendship and intimacy with those around me is itself a sign that God is redrawing my heart to look more like His. When you consider that, being triune, community is an intrinsic part of God's nature it's not so surprising that as humans its one of our heart cries. We are, after all, created in His image and are therefore like Him in every way that it's possible for a created being to be like God. I admit that with all the heartbreak that can go on in this search for friendship it can seem easier to go stone-faced and just deny our need for other people, but we were no more created to be stones than we were to live alone. Somehow out of all the everyday heartbreak that had me curled up and crying in a corner as a lonely teenager God has managed to pull a living heart that refuses to shut up and let me muddle through life as gray shadow, and tonight I find I can draw encouragement from the very fact of my longing since it represents one more little way I look like my Father. I'm alive and not dead, and however much my heart may break it still looks a little bit like the loving, communal heart of Christ.
Seeking out community hard, and it hurts. There are so many ways in which my desire for intimacy is thwarted and frustrated, and I know that my desires will never be truly satisfied this side of heaven. However I take encouragement in two things. Firstly in that I've discovered yet another mark of God's likeness on me and secondly in that this desire, springing as it does from God's work in my life, is bound to be satisfied in God's good time.