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I was flipping through channels the other day and stumbled upon an infomercial for some magical weight-loss concoction.
In a voice that sounded eerily similar to a circus ringleader, the host matter-of-factly proclaimed:
"You would have to exercise an hour EVERY SINGLE DAY just to MAINTAIN your current weight!"
I mean, I have enough years and experiences behind me to see that whatever is being sold in this light cannot be trusted.
And I know if I did exercise for an hour EVERY SINGLE DAY, I would indeed lose weight.
But who has an hour every single day for exercise?
Interestingly, it was the "hour-every-single-day" reference that I found most discouraging -- not the infomercial's more blatant goal of trying to get me to think about my muffin top mid-section. (Me and my mid-section are well acquainted. I don't need to be reminded of its presence).
But to think someone makes even a suggestion of an hour every single day for exercise?
Oh how I wish.
I'm not downplaying the need for exercise, mind you, because I do hit the treadmill and exercise when I can. But an hour every single day? Not happening.
Whether it is exercising or taming the calendar or cleaning the house or having sex with our husbands, the stuff of life begins to pile up and seems downright insurmountable.
Which is why a good many of us women between the ages of 25 and 50 feel shrouded by this sense that life is not quite what we envisioned it would be.
We are tired.
We are sometimes unfulfilled.
We oscillate between feeling racked with guilt about all we are not getting done -- and renewed by optimism that we can indeed get it all done!
Is it no wonder that on any given day, if we are brutally honest, we feel that insanity stands just outside the door of our heart, eager to nudge itself in and take up permanent residence.
Do you ever feel that way?
It is in that place of feeling undone that we must reconcile that even though life is steeped in messiness, we still must figure out a way to... well, have a life.
Personally, I think this is impossible without Jesus. And even with Him, I think the road is not always smooth (because of me, of course, not Him). He is perfect and patient and always willing.
Me on the other hand... I'm a patchwork of sin, inconsistency, second-guessing and exhaustion. But He hangs in there with me. Such a gentleman.
When I speak on sexual intimacy to women's groups, I take great care to point out that I am a real person with my own fair share of messiness in my life and my marriage.
And though I've come a long way in recognizing and experiencing the richness in nurtured sexual intimacy with the man I married, I still find myself occasionally weighed down with noisiness and busyness of daily life.
As wives, we must look squarely in the face of the lie that will always sabotage our sex life.
The lie says that we cannot experience genuine nurtured intimacy within life's messiness -- we must first get everything else checked off our to-do list. Only then can we devote attention to the peripherals -- the "extras" as it would be. Like sex with our husband.
But God didn't design sexual intimacy to be an "extra" in our marriage. He never meant for it to hang out on the fringes of our agenda.
Well, the solution is hard, which probably explains why so many people don't do it.
You have to make peace with the truth that your life may never look like you want it to -- but still can be what you most want. Sure, it would be great if our photo albums were up to date and the laundry never piled up, but what we really want is to be loved and to be in authentic relationship.
The feelings of longing for something neater and embracing the richness of what is can exist simultaneously.
If you don't live in that kind of peace, what is it going to take?
For me, I have to consciously ask myself if the people I love most know they are loved. A super clean house and well-choreographed calendar are poor substitutes for love that shows up as devoted attention.
Some nights I go to bed with dishes still in the sink.
Some days I don't do any exercise (let alone an hour!)
Some days my my to-do list just grows instead of shrinks (despite my very best efforts).
And most days I drop at least 3-4 of the balls I'm trying to juggle.
But rarely do I say I don't have time or energy for sex.
I'm a long way from perfect, but I'm fairly sure that as the years roll by, they will be marked by deepened intimacy rather than half-hearted relationship.
Don't wait to love well.
The messiness of your life may feel downright overwhelming. Do what you can to rein it in, but also learn to live within it.
Don't let the lie of a meticulous life sabotage your sexual intimacy. Because it will. If you let it.
Copyright 2011, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.