Sitting next to me at a table in one of my favorite little cafe’s, I recently overheard a woman on the phone complaining to someone about her husband. (I think it was her sister. Eavesdropping is a strength of mine.) From what I could pick up on, this woman felt her marriage was in a rut. She talked about how her and the Mr. don’t connect like they used to… how they do things together, but they’re not actually with each other because “he’s always texting someone” and “not paying attention to me.”

I couldn’t hear what the person on the other line was saying, but then she added, “No, we don’t talk like we used to. He doesn’t know how I’m feeling or what I’m working on. He doesn’t even know that I go to the gym after work everyday. We’re living separate lives at this point…” she trailed off.

With eyes wide open, I prayed. God, revive this marriage. Restore their intimacy.

Have you ever wanted to go deeper in your friendships or romantic relationship, but weren’t quite sure how to make it happen? How to get out of the rut or avoid it altogether?

I crave intimacy. I think we all do, even if we’re unable to recognize it or our defenses from past hurts get in the way.

We want closeness with one another, but it’s not happening for so many reasons.

Whether it’s a lack of self-control with our devices or a lack of intention, we aren’t able to experience the depths of a relationship without intimacy.

And if we’re not intentional about it, we might just wake up one day and be in a similar place as that woman.

Even the Bible reminds us how vital it is to have deep and wide relationships…

Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. Proverbs 11:14 (MSG)

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32 (MSG)

It got me thinking. Even outside of my marriage, only new friendships require me to ask questions (lots of them) to really get to know the person, whereas my other longtime friendships have already gone there at some point early on, so now conversation typically revolves around keeping up with each other’s lives. Much less than I’d like to admit am I sitting down with a friend really digging past the surface.

One of my very best friends, Hannah, is incredibly gifted when it comes to intimacy with friends. She’s taught me a lot about the gift of presence, asking questions, actively listening, and getting people to go deeper than they seem to want to go.

Some of my favorite questions she’s asked me include:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how overwhelmed are you feeling?
  2. What’s your idea of a perfect night with friends?
  3. How do you see yourself getting (insert goal) accomplished? What can I do to help you get there?
  4. If you could choose your last five meals before you die, what would you choose? (She gave me crap for saying I’d want multiple bowls of cereal as one…)
  5. How can I love you well when the time comes for the twins to possibly leave?

On top of learning from Hannah, I’ve been reading a lot about intimacy in, I’d Like You More If You Were More Like Me, which is the book my small group is going through together.

During every check-in, we go around in a circle and set a timer for two or three minutes. Each person says, “To know me right now is to know that _____.” and then fills in the rest of that sentence. They talk for the allotted time and whenever they pause or run out of things they want to share, it’s silent. No one can respond or interrupt. Once the timer goes off, we reset it for two or three minutes and everyone gets a chance to respond.

Responses aren’t dishing out advice and they aren’t sharing a story about yourself. Responses acknowledge that you were listening and help the person feel heard, known, and help them process. Here are some of the ways I like to respond:

  • “When you said _____, I felt _____.”
  • “I see you.”
  • “After you shared _____, I wanted to ask you _____.”
  • “Thanks for sharing.”
  • “I had this feeling of _____ when you told us _____.”

What if this week you asked more questions to your coworkers, your significant other, and your best friend? What would change? How might you make them feel by inviting them to be seen and known?

How cool would it be if you initiated a whole new level of connecting by sitting down with a couple of your closest friends and saying, “I want to really know you. Let’s do this little exercise I read about on Manda’s blog!”

I dare you to try it! To really believe in the power of friendships and community and trust that God’s word is true for us today even though it was written so long ago.

Comment a favorite question you either like to ask people or enjoy being asked. I’d also be interested in hearing any thoughts you have after trying this out in one of your relationships. 🙂

(I never intended for this space to be output only. It brings me so much joy to hear your input! I value learning with you.)

Growing together,

Manda

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9 comments

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Oh, Manda, You have beautiful things to say, always seasoned with grace. I enjoy hearing from you. Today on IG when I say you had a new blog post I smiled and have been excited all day to read it!! You are giving language and words to exactly what my heart desires-true and deep connection w/ the ones in my life. I am ALL for intentionality and am a STRONG advocate of it. Good things grow and blossom from intentionality. <3 I like to ask people, "How is your heart REALLY doing?" & I enjoy being asked that. 🙂 I know that can be a loaded question to be asked and to answer because our hearts can be experiencing joy and sorrow simultaneously. And we can have parts of our heart that is great and thriving and other parts that are thirsty and withered, But I ask because I care. Recently I heard Jordan Lee Dooley say she likes to ask friends how she can serve them this week and I LOVED THAT. My husband and I ask each other that every week, but I've never really asked friends/close family that question, So I am going to implement that question. I also LOVE the questions Hannah came up with! I am a lover of asking questions and being asked questions 🙂 I have been told that I am "inquisitive," but I wouldn't limit myself simply to curiosity because I know my heart is one that sincerely cares. I would not say I pry or am nosy or stupid w/ the WAY I reach out to others. Haha but you get what I'm trying to say 🙂 Thanks for sharing and allowing me to do the same!

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Abby, you have a beautiful love for others. Thanks for reading & sharing. It’s always cool to hear someone looks forward to my emails and posts 🙂

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This blog post has touched my heart. I have been in a struggle searching for community and belonging amongst a womens group. Im slowly realizing it is not that the group does not receive me but I wont let the walls down for fear.
I have battled depression and trauma for years. I take medication to control both and medication to sleep. I appreciate your transparency with sharing. It does make me feel like someone understands my struggle. The dark days can be so long at time, the tears can feel endless and the sadness can be almost unbearable. Knowing Jesus saves my life.
Lora

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Lora, I’m praying for you right now! Thanks for reading and sharing a bit of your story. My hope is that you will be surrounded by a community of supportive people who uplift you and are there for you in the lows.

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I really love what you’re doing in being so vulnerable. Intimacy in relationship is everything, and it starts with myself. Do I really know myself the way I want others to? I have a feeling I’ll always be working on this one. You’re incredible girl!

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Thanks, Taryn! Same here. Always a work in progress 🙂 Thanks for reading. Congrats on your engagement!!!

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I have been struggling with overwhelming feelings of being too overwhelmed. Reading this blog post, and your monthly email, really helped at the perfect time, especially Hannah’s question “on a scale of 1 to 10, how overwhelmed are you feeling?” It is always healthy to express your personal concerns with another person, and my perfectionist attitude sometimes makes it seem like I have to keep it together 100% of the time. Thank you for always being so open and willing to express your life through media. You encourage me.

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There is freedom in letting people truly see you and KNOW you. I’m celebrating you on your own journey, Nicole! Thanks for the kind words.

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I had a friend ask me recently how she can help me when I’m going through one of my periods of anxiety/depression. She asked me at a time that I wasn’t in the middle of it so it was so uplifting to be able to tell her ways that she can show up for me when I’m at a low and wouldn’t have had an answer for her. I felt so loved and seen in that moment and I’m so glad she asked and that I was able to ask her how I can help her during times of her stress as well. As I agree you have to be able to share and break down the walls in yourself to let people know you and so you can be known. Thanks for sharing and I loved that you first response to overhearing a situation was to pray for it. I pray that is my response more often too.

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