Celibacy, Singleness & Doing Life Alone

34158184 309d9fbde6 Celibacy, Singleness & Doing Life Alone

Alone in the dark (Photo credit: miss vichan)

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” ~C. S. Lewis

For me, one of the most difficult aspects of singleness and a commitment to celibacy is my present sense that I am going through this life alone. For a couple of months now, I have been constantly reminded that I am lacking something which most everyone else I know has: companionship. Someone to share life with; to share goals, struggles and victories. As C. S. Lewis wrote in the quote above, I feel very much like I am merely surviving, with no real sense of value or of bringing value to another through a godly relationship.

In the men’s group I am a part of, a few of the guys are participating with their wives in “wellness” programs. They are taking steps to eat healthier, exercise  etc. with the aim of improving their health and relationships. Together, these husband/wife teams are working toward a goal. One of my friends in the group has been urging me to change to a healthier lifestyle as well but I have been resistant. I really would like to be a healthier person. Eating healthier and increasing my physical activity/exercising really does appeal to me in many ways. But I find myself lacking the motivation to do it by myself. All I can seem to think of is having a partner in this process of being healthier and motivating each other toward being healthier. And when I think of doing these things on my own, I just don’t see the point; it doesn’t seem practical. I don’t see any joy in getting healthier and not having someone to share the victories along the way with.

Something has changed for me in this area in the past couple years. Prior to coming to Christ, I wasn’t always the healthiest person. But I was able to work up the motivation to exercise and eat healthier. Much of this drive I had was largely sinful. At the time I started to workout with a personal trainer and eat healthier, my mind was focused on the benefits of this. Perhaps the biggest motivator to starting to change my lifestyle at that time was the potential to have greater “success” in  the area of meeting other guys, and all that went along with those increased “opportunities”. Less important was my actual health, but it was a factor. Even outside of the area of health, I derived some happiness and joy from buying things for myself. I even enjoyed grocery shopping and preparing meals. It would make me happy to buy clothes, a new tv, a new computer, car, etc. Now I just don’t care about these things either. Even the things I want, I don’t have the drive to go get them by myself. Now in some ways this is a positive, but in other ways it reveals a very present problem. I am largely feeling without joy these days – primarily in doing anything that would benefit me. I came into a rather decent amount of money recently, and I can’t even bring myself to spend it on the things I feel I want or need.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18 HCSB)

Even in those seemingly little things, such as the husband calling the wife or girlfriend calling boyfriend when something really good or bad has just happened to them, I have no one on my go-to list to call and share my news with. It seems like for me, and I suspect many others, a large amount of the joy we feel in our accomplishments or simply when good things happen to us is derived by having someone to share the news with. And not just anyone, someone significant who will share in our joy at the news and shows an interest. Yet it is not just the sharing of my joy and struggles – it is that sense of having someone who holds you so significant that you know they want to immediately share their own news with you. Even a person who knows you well enough and cares enough to spur you on in those areas where you are slacking. And from thoughts like those my mind wanders even further. As I am not real close to my earthly family, I worry even that should I die someday soon, would my friends from the church even know that I have gone? My family really doesn’t even know where I go to church, nor do they know any of my friends from church, so they couldn’t even let them know that I had died…so to my friends from church, perhaps one day I would just be “gone”. Absurd perhaps, but this goes to how fully my fear has spread throughout my thinking.

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 HCSB)

Somehow things have changed to where I don’t feel I can enjoy anything, or even do anything unless I can find someone to do it with. I want to be on this life-long journey with a companion and in many ways, my choice of celibacy makes that much more unlikely to happen. So while I remain committed to this path, I don’t currently see a lot of happiness or joy in my future, and I think my dwelling on this for a while is a real problem. In some ways, I feel that I really could have a close, committed type of friendship with another guy and feel completely satisfied without sex entering into the friendship. But on the other hand, I don’t see that this relationship is something which is very likely to occur. And the hope I have that it is a possibility seems to be permeating every area of my life and my desire for it is making me unsatisfied with the blessings I have already received from the Lord. I suppose it is a struggle against pride and selfishness…that I am not going to allow myself joy unless the Lord allows me to have someone to experience it with – and it shows a very real un-gratefulness for the things that I do have.

People underestimate the power that a life shared in love with another person has in spurring both on toward healthiness, holiness, and contentment. So while I am called to find contentment in Christ at all times, I struggle to see how that is possible when the thought of having to do EVERYTHING by myself overwhelms me. But the Lord always comes through for me in His own timing, and just because I currently see it as necessary for me to have a companion to share my life with and to share in there’s, I may not always feel this way; or just maybe, down the road God will grant me that special person to share joys and struggles, and together to pursue Him and build each other up in faith and love.

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 HCSB)

16 comments
WilliamOKC1
WilliamOKC1

Starting at the 10-minute mark, I think this video may be relevant in a general way to the challenge we're talking about. The main point I am trying to make is perseverance and that God builds up our faith and hope as we persevere.

The Canaanite Woman in Matthew 15 -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrTV_447BMs&w=300

WilliamOKC1
WilliamOKC1

Bingo. Dan I don't have any quick answers but for what it's worth I am going through almost these exact same feelings and issues in my own walk. I so appreciate your blog and your ability and courage to express these things!

StanWangen
StanWangen

Dan, reading your post here I had to stop many times and re-read what you said, not because I didn't understand what you were describing, but because everything you mentioned is how I have been feeling in my own life lately. That even involves the issue of earthly family, companionship, health and fitness, buying things, etc. I have joy in the Lord despite all this and have faith to believe He is with me every step of the way and at the same time am so aware of what I don't have in the issue of having someone to share goals, struggles and victories with. Matt. 11:28 states it so simply yet profoundly that I must rest in God. Praying for you, Dan, let us encourage one another, we are probably not alone with these things you have stated.

Dan7005
Dan7005 moderator

@WilliamOKC1 Ha - thanks for posting it William...I was just watching it in the email you sent me! It is very good.

"...keep on praying, keep on persevering, because sometimes even when I don't get the very thing I am asking for, I always get more faith, more hope, and more love.  And these are the three virtues that expand my capacity to know God, to love God, and to see God in a clearer way, to understand Him better in the Kingdom... "

Dan7005
Dan7005 moderator

@WilliamOKC1 Hey William!

Thanks for the compliment! I know that feelings of loneliness will come and go throughout life - even in people who are in relationships. But what I am struggling to figure out right now is why this persistent, lasting, almost obsession with finding companionship...and why is my focus on this seemingly getting stronger now? As I said, I suspect much of it is due to sinful pride and selfishness - and a thinking that I know better than the Lord what I need. But at the same time, the Bible does talk frequently of the importance of relationships in our walks. So I think I am just a bit out of balance at the moment!

Blessings, Dan

WilliamOKC1
WilliamOKC1

@StanWangen I looked up Matt 11:28 thank you for posting that here. This passage has always been quite mysterious for me. I suppose I have my own understanding of it, but it seems one of those things one has to ponder, because how can something that seems so difficult be easy and light? My take on it is that when we put God first, other concerns seem much less and our point of view is simplified and clarified, and we really do feel things are easier, lighter and more joyful.

Dan7005
Dan7005 moderator

@StanWangen Hi Stan. I suspect that you are right in that we are not alone in this thinking. I have certainly had issues of loneliness arise throughout the past few years, but they seem to be lingering more lately...in the way that nothing really matters much if I don't have a companion to share with. I'm not exactly sure what is bring this on. And I do still have moments of godly joy...they just seem to dissipate more quickly lately. Thank you for your prayers and I will keep you in mine as well!

Dan

WilliamOKC1
WilliamOKC1

@Dan7005 @WilliamOKC1 Well, my opinion is I do not attribute it to sinful pride or selfishness, because I think this need for companionship is normal. Same-sex attraction presents us with unique challenges. We all need love, not sexual love, but that feeling of belonging and sharing as you have spoken of in this post. Discerning HOW to fulfill these needs in a way pleasing to God, ... that as I see it is our big life challenge. Maybe we should look at it as an opportunity. To find ways to love and be loved and give God the glory. It's tough, but a tough challenge may bring a sweeter feeling of accomplishment when overcome.

StanWangen
StanWangen

@WilliamOKC1 @StanWangen I like your perspective in the last sentence. I think I have often let burdens, even little things that cause agitation, cloud the fact that God is right there with me offering me rest and peace. It is a real discipline to listen to His voice and not let the noise of life get in the way. I am a slow learner in so many ways.

Dan7005
Dan7005 moderator

@StanWangen Stan, I can understand what you are saying.  And what I find most frustrating of all in my case is that I already have a Christian friend in my life right now who is likely the closest friend I have ever had. He is no doubt my best friend and I am his. And yet I still find myself discontent.  And it is not that I am not content specifically with the friendship I have with him - he is great and I value him and our friendship immensely just as it is now and he is like a brother to me.  Yet I still find myself desiring a different type of friendship with someone else.  And because my prayers had often centered on God providing me with a "best friend", I feel very selfish in that He has given me one, yet I am still not satisfied. So while I don't want to completely give up hope in finding what I feel would satisfy this need for companionship, I want to really examine myself and place a greater focus on being grateful to God for all that He has done for me, and really come to know that He is constantly providing me with all that I need.

StanWangen
StanWangen

@Dan7005 @WilliamOKC1 Dan, in many ways I desired a close friend or companion for so long, prayed and hoped for it, but somewhere I think I almost have given up on that happening. Right now that brings tears because I realize that I do need that kind of relationship. I think God desires that for us, especially those of us who have looked in all the wrong places and didn't have those healthy connections that we could have had.  

Dan7005
Dan7005 moderator

@WilliamOKC1 @Dan7005 I totally agree!!  And that is why it bothers me to the extent that it does that I sometimes fixate on this type of companionship, committed friendship or whatever you want to call it!  :)

WilliamOKC1
WilliamOKC1

@Dan7005 @WilliamOKC1 Here is a thought that has occurred to me at times: perhaps God does not want me to be content.... I do not mean God doesn't want me to be happy.  I mean He may be indicating to me that there is something more he wants me to reach for. Just a thought. I think it is tempting for us to panic, as Peter did when Jesus was asleep in the boat and the storm was raging. But if Jesus is in our boat we will never be lost. :-) So however long it takes, we should be confident and keep discerning.

Dan7005
Dan7005 moderator

@WilliamOKC1 @Dan7005 I don't mean to say that I think the desire for companionship is sinful in itself. I agree, it is completely normal. However, if I let my desire for companionship take such precedence in my life that it affects my walk negatively - then I see it as sinful in the way that it reveals that I feel I know better than God what I need - or that I am not content with the many things He has already provided for me. I guess I'm just saying that this desire is normal, but it needs to be kept in perspective somehow...if that makes any sense.