Friday, December 29, 2006

Yes, I'm Still Here!

Hey everybody! Sorry for not updating in a while, but you were warned! ;-) Whew, the holidays have been crazy (and they aren't over yet--there's another post-Christmas family gathering tomorrow, but then that should be it). I'm doing well, though--just being my usual introspective self. :-)

Honestly, though, Christmas was good, and that's not just because I got a digital camera (:-D). I got to meet my sister's boyfriend and my cousin's fiance (and I approve of both--I'm especially relieved that my sister seems to have finally obtained proper taste in men--and yes, I know she'd kill me for saying that). Plus, my niece is almost two, and she's a firecracker if I've ever seen one. I don't know how her parents keep up with her. I was worn out after less than an hour of watching her play (and by watching, I mean making sure she didn't get her hands on any risky items, of which there seems to be a lot in my house, or at least my sister-in-law says).

One thing I can say I did not enjoy about the holiday--and of course it's all in my head (what would you expect? ;-) is how the idea of Christmas seems to dwell in the future. Okay, that probably didn't make much sense. It's really not a bad thing, really. Actually, it's a really good thing, but it makes one such as myself uncomfortable at times.

I guess when you're surrounded by a baby, a recently engaged couple, and a couple that are newly in love and just might one day be engaged, and then married, and then have children, you kind of feel an implied pressure that that type of future is on your shoulders, too. I mean, for most it's not really pressure. It's life. We're meant to start families, pure and simple. And those families get together at Christmas, and you can see the newness of it all and the future prospects of the lovebirds. And it's all sweet and lovely, but sometimes it makes the lone singleton uncomfortable.

But of course no one's viewing me as a singleton. According to them, I'm just a handsome, good-hearted young man who my grandmother bets "the girls never leave alone." Heh heh. (By the way, it's been two weeks and still I haven't had any awkward comments like that from my parents. That might mean something.) So, of course I'm expected to one day have a wife and kids and join in the Christmas festivities with my own little family.

But what if that doesn't happen? Where do single people fit into society? Where do they fit into Christmas? I mean, can't one be happy without ever getting married, without ever having kids, or is that simply not acceptable? If you're ever the bachelor (or bachelorette) does your life not amount to as much? It's something to ponder, and I guess I shouldn't worry about it. But you know me, I'm introspective, and I worry about the future, and I wonder where my life is headed. And I guess I just don't want to be the only one not paired off in the room again.

Sorry if that was a downer. I have a way of doing that. :-) Have a safe and happy New Year everybody. Here comes lucky number 2007!

21 comments:

Peterson Toscano said...

Jay, last Christmas I had similar thoughts that I wrote about. I felt the sting of not being partnered in a world that seemed to display everything in pairs. I further reflected on how, for me, this feeling influenced, in part, my desire to become ex-gay.

I guess my post was more to do with the angst of heterosexism imposed upon a queer person.

But you raise a vital question for all of us gay, ex-gay, whatevers--how to live a fulfilled single life, particular as we grow older, away from the social structure of college, and it is expected that we will partner up with someone.

"It is not good for man to be alone..."

Jay said...

Hey Peterson. I read the post. Yep, that pretty much sums it up. I would lie if I did not say that the fear of being alone is a reason that the whole ex-gay route looks appealing. What can I say? I want a wife and family, and I want it to look and feel normal. But I don't know if it's societal pressure or just societal influence. We're raised to want families. We're biologically programmed to want them. It is, after all, a survival instinct.

I know I'm probably too young to think about all this, but since I'm in college, I kind of feel that, if I was straight, now would be the time for me to look for a potential wife. That is where most married couples meet. But I'm not straight, so I just wonder that, if a wife is in my future, where will she come from? (The education industry isn't really full of swinging singles, you know?)

Then again, if a man is in my future, where will he come from? It's a very confusing time, you see. Yet I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Richard Bourbon said...

I'll say a prayer for you, Jay. The confusion can be not-so-fun. Enjoy life in the midst of it, and you'll turn out OK in the end. That's how I try to live during my confusion, and it's worked out so far.

grace said...

Jay,

You're so sweet. Just keep your focus on Christ. He'll work out all the details. Some of us never get to the point of having "the perfect family Christmas" or at least not for long stretches of time.

love ya!
pam

em said...

Hey Jay:

Wow, I am such a slack blog-reader. I always enjoy your writings, but this holiday season has been more busy than holiday-ey!

As for your post on singleness -- yep, it's a good thing to think about. Historically, throughout many different cultures, singleness has had important roles in society. Today, in the good ol' US of A, our only use for single people tends to be as a priest.

As a 31-year-old single man, I am trying to find ways to revisit this "push to partner" attitude in the states. Sure, marriage and a family would be great, but I don't control all of the variables involved in that coming together. As well, I think singleness can be a very blessed thing -- not only to myself, as a way for God to refine my life, but also to my community. As a single person, I have more freedom, time, and energy to invest in my neighbors and love them. I find that, often-times, my married friends are really grateful to have a single friend who is able and willing to love them with time/effort/helps that a married person simply could not provide without neglecting their spouse.

In short, I just don't think our soiety has put much brain-power into thinking about how single people should fit in here. Much more, the church has all-but-outcasted the single. I mean, really... singles groups tend to be a joke. haha!

Peterson: Regarding the "it is not good for man to be alone" -- I agree. I just don't think that implies marriage, but community. I've never felt alone, despite my singleness, mostly-due to a great group of friends and family that surround me.

jerubaal said...

"I just don't think that implies marriage, but community."

I think it implied both, since without Adam and Eve's marriage, there would have been no community at all.

But anyway, I think you're gonna be okay, Jay, it's just gonna take time.

Do guy stuff (like work out), hang out with guys, and think about girls. And try not to stress the future so much - we only have one day at a time to work with.

-jake

Jay said...

Richard: It's not confusion so much as it is worry. Uncertainty is something that we all have to deal with on a daily basis (unless you know any good psychics :-) But thanks for the prayers.

Grace: I'm not the only sweet one in this corner of the blogosphere! Happy New Year, girl.

Em: It's great to finally hear from you again, and thanks for the thoughtful reply! It means a lot.

Jake: I don't think anyone's saying that God didn't imply both family and community when He said "it is not good for man to be alone." But it also is true that marriage just isn't for everyone, and there has to be a way for people to be fulfilled and happy with their lives even if they never raise families of their own. Em has a point when he says that the Christian community simply doesn't know what to do with its singles.

As for this jem: Do guy stuff (like work out), hang out with guys, and think about girls.

LOL my friend. I think I'm going to do a whole post on that :-) But you are right. We only need take our lives one day at a time. I usually do. It's just that the holidays make us look back on the year past and the years ahead, and so it's just a natural time to think about such things.

Peace be to everyone. Happy New Year!

jerubaal said...

Jay,

HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!!!!!

What can I say? You're totally right - not everyone is made for marriage. There are three types of men who aren't made for marriage:

1) People born eunuchs
2) People made eunuchs by man
3) People made eunuchs by their own choice to serve God

The question is whether any of that applies to you, Jay... I personally don't think it does. The term eunuch seems to apply to people with physical genital deformities (since we go by the language that would commonly have been understood by the hearers in their day), whereas I assume you are perfectly fertile and all that. The third category seems to apply to more than just the physically disabled, but the actual becoming of a eunuch in their case seems to be the result of a decision to serve God, whereas modern repentant homosexuals seem to have arrived at their original station (SSA) through means other than a choice to serve God over all worldly endeavors.

I agree that there is a paucity of understanding singleness in the church, and it sucks. But a lot of that probably comes from the fact that everyone on earth is directly connected to more than one person that knows the joys of parenthood and wishes that for everyone else.

----------

Anyway, happy new year, Jay. I'm leaving your abnormally, and thankfully, warm state tomorrow to return home to San Diego. Best wishes and prayers for you this year and always.

love you man

- Jake

p.s. - if you're ever in San Diego, check out the Resolved Church here.

jerubaal said...

Oh yeah, almost forgot to ask...

Did you talk to your parental units yet? How'd it go?

-Jake

Jay said...

Happy New Year to you, Jake! Hopefully one doesn't have to be a eunuch to not be made for marriage. I believe there are emotional requirements for marriage as well, and I think some people simply don't meet them. I'm not saying whether I do or don't. I might, but then again maybe I'm meant to focus my energies on being a great teacher, and raising a family could run counter to all that. Who knows?

You're right that there's nothing malicious at all about the church's attitude towards singleness. Marriage and family are the overwhelming norm, and for good reason, so anyone who goes against that is going to face just a little discomfort just for being the odd man (or woman) out.

No, I haven't talked to my parents yet. There's some illness in the family right now and it's leading to stress and heartache for both of them. I don't want to potentially add any fuel to the fire right now. But when I do, you guys will be the first to know how it went.

And one last note: You were in NC!? Where? I hope your trip to San Diego is a safe one and if I'm ever there, I'll definitely try to find your church (differences in theological stances put aside ;P). It looks pretty cool, BTW.

Pomoprophet said...

I really get agrivated with how much emphasis the American church puts on getting hitched. Paul even spends time talking about how it is BETTER for people to stay single. Yet that verse is often tossed aside. Just another evidence that people dont accept the full of Scripture but only parts they want to.

Its just additional pressure those of us struggling with our sexuality dont need to have. I dont like being made to feel like theres something wrong with me because I am not married (gasp, im 26!)

Anyways, I like what Pam/Grace said. God has a way of taking care of us. My biggest fear is being old and alone and what happens when I fall and cant get up or something like that? I dont know what life holds after my family has passed away. God willing that is a LONG time from now.

These are good things to think about though bro. People like us are going to have to be the ones who change the church.

kurt_t said...

Jay,
Have you ever seen "The Lost Language of Cranes"? This post made me think about it. It has a lot to do with isolation, families, building community.

I bet if you see it you'll end up devoting a blog entry to it. That's my prediction. You heard it, folks.

Also, I think you would probably really enjoy "Liza with a 'Z'." (That was Tony's Christmas present this year.) I think we could all use more Liza. Maybe that could be a New Year's resolution for you. More Liza.

She made a movie in the Seventies called "Lucky Lady." OK, Peterson is probably rolling his eyes right now, but don't you listen to him. Liza was amazing in that movie! Amazing!

More Liza, Jay. Trust me on this one.

jerubaal said...

Hey buddy,

I was in Charlotte for the last two weeks.

Yeah, I have to say my church is pretty friggin unbelievable. We seriously LOVE each other and say it, and we hug and hang out and watch sports and drink beer and all kinds of fun stuff.

I think singleness needs to be promoted in the church along with marriage. So many married preachers I've read that interpreted Paul's exhortation to singleness said that he didn't REALLY mean singleness is better. HUH?

Anyway, I feel for the guy that's 26 and not married yet... welcome to my life, I'm 26 and single also. I just hope I'm married by the time I'm thirty so I can have a bunch of little jakes running around. But God only knows whether that will happen.

Also, the Holy Spirit says that those who are blessed with singleness will be spared some troubles in life. And elsewhere He says that those who are eunuchs that serve Him should not despair their lack of children, because to them He will give a name that He will write in His house that is greater than that which will be received by those who have sons.

Finally, the Son also says this: do not worry on these things, about whether you shall have them, but seek first the kingdom of God and the righteousness He gives you, and all these things that you heart needs and your soul desires will be added to you in abundant measure, pressed down and overflowing.

Jay said...

Pomoprophet: Thanks man. I think a lot of the reason I feel pressured to go the "normal route" is because my parents are older than most. If they're going to have grandchildren from me, I want them to be able to see them. That's a tiny piece of the puzzle, at least. I just realized it tonight. I hope that any worries you have are calmed in this new year.

Kurt: Nope, never seen it, but if I do, and I post about it, you will certainly get the props that will be due. As for Liza, I'm not so much of a fan. I liked Cabaret but that might have been more because of Michael York. ;-) Best wishes!

Jake: I've never been to Charlotte, unfortunately. I hear it's a nice town (probably not as cool as San Diego, though).

Yeah, I noticed how chillaxed your church seemed to be when I checked out the site (for those who might not know: chillaxed = chill + relaxed). I'm more of a wine than a beer person though. ;-)

The "do not worry" verses came to mind almost as soon as I wrote the post, actually. Thanks for reminding me of them again. I know them, and they do bring comfort, but sometimes I worry anyway. I'm reminded of C.S. Lewis' advice on the subject. In The Screwtape Letters he speaks of how the future is one of the least real of all things (for both the present and the past are based in reality, but the future is as non-existent as it gets). Therefore, one shouldn't live in the future or the past, but focus on the present and how they can serve Christ there. It sounds easy. It's the going through with it that's hard.

Jay said...

Oh, by the way, are you in any of the photos? I'd love to finally have a face to go along with the name!

To be honest, though, I'm surprised that you spend any time away from your computer! Where do you find the time to write the wealth of comments that you do here and at Townhall (and other places, I assume). You really need your own blog, my friend. Several people have actually come to mine after doing Google searches for you (gotta love that StatCounter!) so it seems that you're pretty popular.

jerubaal said...

Oh yeah, jay, none of those pictures are me - I'm not an elder, and I haven't been on any trips yet. I'll let you know though. We're redoing the website, so eventually there might be some pics of me on there.

I used to have websites and stuff when I was a teenager, but I got fed up with all the effort required to maintain them so I tore them down.

Catchya later.

-Jake

celticdragon said...

Hey Jay!
I have added you to my blogrole. It's good to hear that your holiday went well, and I'm looking forward to talking with you soon.

Best Wishes, Annemarie AKA Celtic-Dragon

Robert said...

Jay, Jay, Jay . . .

No one needs to worry about "being alone." Even those people I know who worry that they are entering such a phase eventually find out that they have to sneak moments of solitude.

Somehow, people always wind up with families, regardless of their orientation or how those families are composed. Moreover, whether you couple or not, you will have plenty of opportunities to raise children. TRUST ME on this one. There are too many kids and not enough responsible adults. If you want children, you will have as many as you want. If you want to start now, suggest taking your nieces and nephews out to a museum, park, zoo or other place for some "quality time." Their parents will be delighted for some time off from the kids.

Jay said...

Annemarie: Thanks! First Jerubaal, now you. Hopefully I'll get the whole group from Townhall over here eventually...though MikeScott and Kathy don't have to come ;-).

Robert: Thanks for the encouragement, man. Looking back on this post now, I feel like I was being very overdramatic. Yeah, it's a worry, but I'm not miserable or anything. I'm too much of a people person to ever be alone in the truest sense. I'm certainly not shy, and I have a large circle of friends and family that love me and that I love. What's to worry about? Best wishes!

jerubaal said...

"though MikeScott and Kathy don't have to come"

ROFLMBO! I intentionally have never said one word to the Kathy person. I don't know why, but I cannot bring myself to actually read what she says.

Oh and...

THE DRAGON AWAKES! Whats up Anne?

-Jake

MR said...

Hey Jay, I am a 47 year old Christian man who is happily single. I have been tempted by SSA my entire adult life, but by God's grace I have never acted on it.

Your stories of feeling out of place are very familiar to me. When I have taken joy in God and sought to care about others instead of being self-absorbed, I do not just endure these times, I enjoy them. You see, we can derive great joy from God blessing others!