Loneliness

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“Field of Dreams” by Steve Henderson.

Since my blog deals with virginal celibacy, there are two groups of people I talk about: Those with the gift of celibacy and those who are waiting on marriage. What’s interesting is that people who are called to the celibate life forever also pass through a time of waiting on marriage. While I do think there is some genetic predisposition to celibate life, I don’t think anybody is born with either lifestyle encoded in their DNA. If they were, the charism of virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven would not be possible. A gift requires not only a giver and a receiver, but also a period of time without the gift and a period of time with the gift. However, receiving a spiritual gift is not like receiving a birthday gift. There are no lollipop whistles, no songs, no candles, no hugs from Aunt Mattie Lou. No chocolate covered candy hearts to give away.  It actually can be pretty quiet.

Have you ever been in a crowded place and thought you heard someone call your name? I have. Sometimes there is another person named John close by and then sometimes I don’t know what I heard. But whatever the case, I always stop what I’m doing, get really quite, and listen really hard. I think God sometimes uses loneliness in the same way to get our attention. It’s like a call from the spiritual realm. First, ask yourself if there is anything that is making you feel lonely. For example, do you spend time with friends who have boyfriends and girlfriends? Do you find yourself often in “couples” situations? Do you hang around couples expecting children? Do you attend a lot of weddings? Do you spend a lot of time babysitting? All of these scenarios can create an artificial loneliness that is void of any godly direction. Cares of the world need not become a part of our lives until we are married. Young ladies, you are not required to babysit during your church services. Learn to say no. When we have an active prayer life, I think loneliness can actually be a good thing. It forces us to take a look at ourselves – as God does – without any external trappings of manmade success or pleasures. It forces us to rely on him. It peels away the husk and reveals who we really are.  More importantly for the single person, it allows us to define our loneliness and determine if anything is lacking in our lives. Is it a longing for a husband? Is it a longing to be with other people? Or, is it a longing to be closer to Christ? I think wanting to be closer to Christ can be interpreted as loneliness. And that is a very GOOD thing. Christ spent much time on this earth as a lonely man. Not only that, he was a very poor man. He never owned anything beyond the clothes he wore. He never owned a home, property, mode of transportation, not even a cemetery plot. So much of the world’s idea of happiness today is tied up with what we own. Everybody has to have the biggest, fastest, loudest, brightest of . . . everything. Our very identities are tied up with what we own, especially for men.

But the person who is called to celibacy is able to experience loneliness as a sacred closeness to Christ.   When people think of celibacy today, their minds automatically go to “no sex,” when actually celibacy is more about being completely alone and depending on God for everything.  It’s about sacrificing the pleasures on earth for something better in heaven.  Our pain and loneliness is a constant reminder for everyone that there is nothing in this world that can satisfy us. Not a thousand friends. Not a million dollars. Not even a celebrity model for a husband or wife. That only in heaven with Christ by our sides will we find ultimate love and companionship.  So if you have a crush on someone and they are not reciprocating, your first reaction should not be “I’m not attractive enough to get their attention.” It should be “who do I really love?” Use it as an opportunity to discern if God is calling you to marriage or celibacy. Sometimes God can only speak to us when we are lonely and very quiet. If you find yourself in that spot, ask yourself these two questions: Do you believe God made everything in the universe, including sex? If so, do you believe there is anything else in the world better than sex? Do you have a passion for something that comes close to your sex drive? I’ve always been drawn to people who have special needs including Down’s syndrome, Savant syndrome, autism, mental retardation, and intersexed people. For me, making a connection with one of them is better than any sex I could experience. Do they ever feel lonely?

You bet they feel lonely. This may sound completely backwards, but a person has to be lonely in order to relate to people who are lonely. That includes special needs people and Christ. So if you’re in the process of discerning celibacy, remember that your sex drive can be transformed supernaturally into a passion drive. Don’t look at loneliness as a completely negative part of the human experience. Experience it with Christ and be still and listen to his suggestions. The word of the Lord may not come unto you as it did Jeremiah and say “Thou shalt not take a wife.” But he may come in other ways. Don’t hang a sign on your single life that says “looking for marriage” because it could very well close doors that need to be open. If you look at your life as a jet airliner that has to make a choice between two runways, marriage or celibacy, set a course in that direction, but don’t start a descent for landing until you are sure that’s where God wants you to be.  If you drop your plane down to marriage altitude, it will be much more difficult to bring it up again to the level of celibacy if that’s what God ultimately calls you to do.  We all leave a legacy on this earth, and what runway we land on is woven into it. So savor your time alone on this earth. But don’t accept the world’s defiition of lonely; because if you are walking with Christ, you are never really alone. Keep your destination in mind.

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One thought on “Loneliness

  1. This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I was just making an entry in my journal about embracing my loneliness. Yet, I raised four children, endured the death of one of them, went through a painful divorce, and I know that these circumstances do not create loneliness. You can be lonely and surrounded by all kinds of people, even people you love and who love you.
    I am beginning to see that there is more than one type of love and even marriage as I was talking to a friar the other day, and he explained to me the purpose of the vows they take of chastity and poverty. It was extremely eye-opening. Pray that I will continue to walk in the path that God has for me. And pray also that I will find the right and perfect path that my Savoir has formed for me. Joan Williams-Okon

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