For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

- Mosiah 3:19

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Aversion to hugs and Dating God

Last night I met up with a friend, a gay atheist. I'm not really sure why I find more comfort in spending time with atheists than I do with members of the church. As I approached the restaurant, I could see him from the window, it was good to see him. As I approached him, being the nerd I am, carrying books and notebooks and papers and trying to keep them from falling to the ground by tucking them under my arms, he came forward and embraced me, books and all. This is not an unusual greeting between him and me. But the hugs in the past have been almost an empty gesture - I can tolerate those. However, this time was different, he pulled me in and wrapped his arms around me, I felt the full embrace, and almost dropped my books and other sundry items.

As I reflected on that experience, I realized that healthy intimacy frightens me. His hug was an intimate moment, conveying his love for me as a friend. My immediate reaction was to pull back, but I simply surrendered to it. Fear of healthy intimacy. Wow! I'm not entirely certain as to why that is the case. But as we talked over dinner, his insights in to my life have been remarkable, powerful, and encouraging. While he is an atheist, he respects me enough to know that my belief in God is central to how I see myself and others. As I shared with him how I've been sober for almost ten days, but had some slips cruising ads on Craigslist, and by fantasizing about the silly pictures on Grindr, I came to my willingness to surrender to God.

Perhaps somewhat emboldened by this new found intimacy, I simply declared that I'm willing to trust God and willing to let go of controlling the outcome and my need to understand the implications of what the trust might mean. I told him there is some fear and anxiety about not feeling resistant to God anymore, I told him , I felt naked without this resistant element that has been with me for so long - I felt a little lost. He simple said, think about your relationship with God as if you were dating Him. I was taken aback, he said, the first date you get to know a little bit, but you have some trust He won't hurt you, but you're guarded. My friend continued, "in the relationship you continue to learn more about Him and your trust in Him increases and you're ability to surrender increases."

I sat back to allow that insight to settle in on me. I trust God and that trust will progressively strengthen the more I interact with God, the more conversations I have with Him, the more I do as He asks. I'm slowly trying to let go of my need to see with some measure of clarity the implications and outcomes of my surrender to Him. But I'm willing. And so to use my friends analogy, I will start to date God.

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