He walked into my hotel room with a mumbled "hello."
Though my life's work is helping people and though I enjoy it very much, I employ a policy that never allows people to come to my hotel room. Never. But Sam had seen an ad in his local newspaper advertising that the president of Family Dynamics was speaking at a local church. Hoping that I might deliver him from the demon tormenting him, he found my lodging and implored a meeting until I yielded.
Now he stood silently before me, head hanging and shoulders drooping, until I directed him to the worn sofa situated in the middle of the room. I took the only other chair the proprietor had thought to furnish. Without looking up, Sam started into his story. It was the same story I've heard from countless others who, by their own actions, have caused the walls of their lives to crash in on themselves and everyone they love.
He'd been married twenty years, but for some time now, his relationship with his wife had barely existed. They'd drifted apart, taken up separate interests, and spent little time together -- except during social functions, like church. They weren't sure they loved each other anymore. At least that was Sam's perspective.
Just two weeks before -- on a whim -- he had wheeled into a strip bar. Strip bars weren't a part of his lifestyle, and under normal circumstances they held no temptation for him. But on that particular night, he was feeling empty, alone. He was looking for something; he just wasn't sure what it was. Without any acknowledged thought process, he walked through the door into a world that had never existed for him before, unaware that he was leaving a world to which he might never return.
It was quite an eventful night.
By the time the sun groggily crawled over the horizon to reveal its own bloated, flushed face, Sam was recovering from his drinking binge while finishing breakfast at an all-night greasy spoon with a stripper half his age. They'd talked about life, dreams, and the futures they wished for but feared might never be. He told me how they'd instantly hit it off on some deep level, how she understood him like no one ever had, and how he had always longed for this kind of friendship with a woman.
Within a week he'd left his wife, rented an apartment, and moved in with this twenty-something whose trade in life was erotically enticing drunken men to give her their money.
Quite a rapid change for a churchgoing, pillar-in-the-community businessman and father.
Too much change. He couldn't live with it.
After just a few days with his newfound "soul mate," Sam had awakened to the realization that he didn't want to spend another night with this stripper. Guilt consumed him, and he surprised himself by discovering that he missed his wife -- the woman he had convinced himself he had no affection for whatsoever. Bewildered and disoriented, he told the stripper to leave and spent the rest of the day wandering about in dazed confusion until he noticed the ad in the newspaper. That's when he tracked me down -- the stranger he hoped could fix all this.
All my religious and moral values were offended by his actions, but I felt no anger toward him. What he had done was wrong -- very wrong -- but I was more interested in saving him than chastising him. Besides, I don't think I could have awakened any more guilt in him than he already felt.
As he finished telling me about the events of the last two weeks, he looked at me and asked the question I knew was coming. Not only did I anticipate the question, I knew the answer.
"Why?" he begged. "Why would I do a thing like that? It's so foreign to everything that I believe, everything that I am. Can you tell me why I'm doing what I'm doing?"
I paused just for a moment as an involuntary sigh escaped, then replied gently, "Sam, more of us have struggled with that question than you can ever know. I think I know exactly what is driving you -- the same thing that drives so many people to misguided actions. It's the search for intimacy.
"You crave a warm, intimate, close relationship with another human being, and you were trying desperately to find something, someone, who promised to give it to you. Even though you didn't know what to call it, you knew that you wanted someone to share your very self with -- your hopes, your dreams, your fears. That's what you thought you'd found in your stripper.
"But somehow, you've managed to discover what so many haven't yet figured out: Sex and intimacy aren't the same thing. That's why you told the stripper to leave. You longed for intimacy, but all you got was sex.
"If you ever had intimacy with your wife, you lost it long ago. But you don't want it lost. You want it so badly that your misguided search has cost you what little intimacy you had left. Sadly, your search is taking you farther from the treasure you seek."
I talked longer, fleshing out the thoughts above, until he interrupted my soliloquy by beginning to cry. Not the gentle, quiet weeping of tender moments. No, it was the bitter, angry expression of grief that accompanies a crushing discovery. With wonderment washing his eyes, he nearly shouted, "You're right! Oh, my God, you're right!"
Ultimately, I convinced Sam to call his minister. I sat listening as he laid out the skeleton of the story over the line, asking if the minister would go with him to tell his wife. They worked out a time to meet, talk in more detail, and pray before visiting with her. When Sam finished the conversation, I prayed with him and sent him on his way.
He left with a mixture of horror and hope.
I didn't know which of those emotions would find its fulfillment.
I knew that by the grace of God I'd started Sam on the right path, but I also knew that his own sinful actions had strewn that path with danger, pitfalls, and seemingly insurmountable obstructions. I watched through the curtains as he drove away, praying again for God's will to be done for Sam and his wife. I wanted to have hope for them. Maybe his wife would forgive him and, despite what he had done, work toward intimacy. Maybe he could focus on his relationship with her, find forgiveness, and find what he was seeking.
My Own Story
The reason I was able to so easily identify what Sam really wanted is that I, too, had to discover my intense need for intimacy the hard way. I have been in situations and done things of which I'm terribly ashamed. Many times in my life I've had to face overwhelming guilt, trying to figure out how I got into some situation or why I did some sinful act. I vainly tried to understand myself by analyzing environment, childhood events, potential genetic flaws, satanic traps, and even the possibility that at heart I am fatally morally flawed.
At one time or another I blamed each of those causes, but my understanding of my struggles wasn't to come through self-analysis. God decided to teach me a different way.
Because God sees me in a different light than I see myself -- the light of grace -- He continually gives me the ministry of helping people who struggle and fail as much as I do. He's done it for as long as I can remember. Not only does He graciously use me to help them, He often uses them to explain me to me.
It was during one of those times when I was helping another struggling Christian that I suddenly realized what God had been revealing to me through others for years. I finally understood that very often it is a person's drive for intimacy that misguides him or her into sin. As soon as that awareness blossomed, I immediately understood my own struggles and, better yet, the final solution to them.
I'd been seeking intimacy with God and a good marriage with Alice but had never seen the two goals as more than indirectly related. Instantly I knew that the only way to develop the godliness and wholeness I craved was to seek intimacy with God and with Alice as a unified goal. Unless I could accomplish that, I would struggle spiritually for the remainder of my life.
As soon as I experienced that "aha!" I realized that because intimacy was missing in our marriage, Satan's forces had been able to lead me astray. For the first time, I finally saw the truth that I would later share with Sam. Intimacy is the key. We seek it from the moment we are conscious that we are alive and continue until the moment we have our last conscious thought on this planet. Only when we live in an intimate relationship with another person and an intimate relationship with God do we have the very treasure we live our lives to find.
God made us that way.
Our God-Given Craving for Intimacy
God Himself placed the desire for intimacy within each one of us. He made us with two powerful carvings that permeate or motivate nearly everything we do:
1. Every human craves intimacy with another human.
2. Every human craves intimacy with God.
Understanding those two under girding drives within human nature gives great insight into many of our actions, both logical and illogical, holy and sinful. They explain a lot about why we do what we do. Sound simple? Maybe it should be, but it gets complicated because of the difference in men an... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Just started doing this workbook yesterday and my husband and I already had the most a amazing day we've had in years. We've been married 42 yrs... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Sandra Booth
Book was in great shape! Love reading it as well. Would use this person if I purchased any other items.Published on January 8, 2013 by Shirley
Good reference material and review of relationship tools. I guess I was looking for something new and different to expand on from the basics that every author seems to hit on for... Read morePublished on December 17, 2012 by Mike Bagley
My Husband and I are taking a class that is a follow up class from the His Needs, Her Needs book called Dynamic Love and it was a great class so I know that this one will be also.Published on November 8, 2010 by Amazon Customer
Great book for any couple. Following these principles can save or renew your marriage. God created a plan for how marriage is to be. Read morePublished on August 29, 2009 by Kevin