Monday, June 09, 2008

Futures

This post isn’t really anything new, since I guess there are only so many things I think about when I’m alone and at home, and I’m sure I’ve written something like this before. Stick with me, though, and maybe I’ll hit some new points. Once again, I’ve been thinking about the future recently… and how difficult it is for me to put it totally into God’s hands. We all have our “problem passages” in the Bible. I’m not just talking about those verses that state certain things we’d like to do are sins, either. There are other commands and bits of advice that we just find really, really hard to take, because they go against our internal natures. For me, the biggest “problem passage” has always been Matthew 6:25-34, which can best be summed up as the “do not worry” passage. That doesn’t sit well with me… at all. I always worry.

More than worry, I always plan. I just have to know what I’m going to be doing tomorrow, next week, next month, next year… I can’t just leave it up to God, even though I’d really like to. That’s probably been my biggest challenge with being celibate. Doing without sex is a challenge, but I’ve done okay with it. I mean, if I can have a very handsome boyfriend for six months and not stumble in that area any more than I did, I think I can do without. I’ve even done okay with the lack of intimacy and closeness, because I have a large group of friends and family to rely on. But those things won’t last forever. College will be done in two years and my friends are already starting to pair off. Eventually we’ll all go our separate ways and they will move on to start families. I’m not jealous or anything, because that’s just what happens, but the prospect does hurt a bit. Even my own family will drift apart as we go through careers and location changes.

As for me… I have no clue what I’m going to do. I’ve written extensively about the benefits of celibacy before… or at least the aspects of it that make it doable. But I’m not quite sure I’ve ever taken that advice to heart. Sex, like I said, is something I can do without. But it’s hard to go through life without someone, especially in a society where everything seems built for sets of two. I guess in the back of my mind I’ve always had plans. They are farfetched and unfeasible plans, but plans nonetheless. Plans that I will meet a nice Side B Christian (male or female) and set up a life with them… plans that I will one day meet a woman that I am genuinely compatible with (physically and spiritually)… even plans that my influence will somehow convince a certain nice Side A man to “switch sides” so that we can go through this together (and we all know how well that plan worked out for me, right?)

Note that I’m calling these things plans, not hopes. Farfetched though they are, my mind just can’t accept that these things won’t happen. When I think of my future, I always see one of my own ideas coming to fruition. It’s not like this is just my problem, either. I think the majority of Christians deal with this. Everyone says they put their future in God’s hands, but they have their own plans for marriage, family, careers, etc. I guess the difference with me is that my plans are so farfetched that I really can’t rely on them, whereas most people can continue being secure in their futures. Maybe that’s a blessing for me. Our little planned futures can be idols; I’ve come to know. If it doesn’t look like you have one before you, then you have to rely on God more, and trust that He will provide one for you. It’s harder, but maybe it’s better that way.

I just have to trust, obey, and let tomorrow take care of itself.

12 comments:

P said...

Jay,

I really think you just need an hour of therapy with Joe Nicolosi, a membership in a rugby league and DVD collection of Bruce Willis films and all this stuff will sort itself out ;)

Seriously, though, I get what you mean by the planning/trusting in God dichotomy -yet don't see it as such. Maybe this is why Proverbs is one of my favorite books in the Bible.

But allow me to offer some advice on the "planning" side: I think a crucial key to success in celibacy is not just "how" but "where". In my urban church, there are plenty of single fortysomethings and they lead very enjoyable lives and are fully engaged in the community. Of course, if they lived in rural NC, they probably would be bugged by their singleness a bit more...

otrolado said...

I can certainly relate. In fact, my post for today was very similar. Singleness rocks right now, but I do wonder how long before I start wanting a mate. More and more of my friends keep pairing off. I guess I could wait it out until they are all divorced and single again (just kidding).

Good luck on not worrying. I inherited my ability to worry from my mother. She is amazingly gifted. When I want to China her worry was that I was going to be put in prison on accident. I mean, really? Not that the plane would crash, or that I might get lost? She jumped straight to jail! It's almost a gift. I told her that if there was a way to harness her worrying into energy we would cease to have an energy crisis.

RikFleming said...

Learning to trust God and be content is a lifelong lesson. It is one that I myself have to learn and relearn over and over again.

If you read the life of Abraham it is one long series of lessons in which he grows more and more in his faith all the way up to the point where he is able to trust that God can raise his son from the dead.

Another related passage is Philippians 4;6-7, "Do not be anxious..." It is an amazing epistle when you keep in my how much he talks about joy and yet he is writing from the inside of a prison.

If you haven't watched or listened to Mark Driscoll's sermons on Philippians "The Rebel's Guide To Joy" I highly recommend them. You can find them at:

http://www.marshillchurch.org/sermonseries/philippians/

Brandon said...

I'm like you when it comes to planning and worrying. I always like to be very prepared about everything. I'm probably a little bit OCD in that regard. And I know how you feel about the future. I've worried a lot about what's going to happen to me. Will I become some old, lonely man? Will I ever be in love? Will I ever have a family of my own? Will I have kids? Will I get the job I want, or write that all time great American novel, or go here or there? I've worried a lot about such thoughts.

It's helped me to realize, though, that worrying about what may or may not come about tomorrow is a very useless thing to do. Planning is okay, but worrying isn't, because who of us knows that tomorrow will even come. And if it doesn't, for what was all our worrying worth? Nothing. So, trying to just focus on the plans of each day alone, rather than life plans, or just taking one day at a time, seems to help a bunch. Besides that, I know God will take care of me. Even if I turn out to be lonely or alone, or if all my plans or hopes fall apart, I know one plan is always assured. I plan on going to Heaven some day and meeting the greatest love of my life, and I can't wait for that. With that thought on my mind, there's no worries about what tomorrow will bring.

Love ya, buddy. Hang in there. :)

Brandon

kurt_t said...

If it makes you feel any better, when I was your age, I didn't have a clue where my life was going either.

Jay said...

P: Well, I would hope that I wouldn't have to move just so I could find a supportive community of Christians. But I see what you're saying.

Otrolado: That's a funny story about your mother. Mine can get like that sometimes too. :)

Rik: I think I'll check out that series, and reading Philippians all the way through probably couldn't hurt either.

Brandon: Good point. I know to take it one day at a time. I was just reflecting on how a lot of Christians rely on their plans for the future more than God. Maybe since I don't have those plans, I get a little extra blessing. :)

Kurt: Thanks. So many of my friends are even more confused about their futures than I am. That's why I'm wondering why I let this thing get to me so much. It's not like it's an uncommon problem. :)

Joe said...

Don't worry, the rest of Matthew 6 is just as challenging. We all want to be appear righteous before men (1-4), pray as if it was a performance art (5-8), let everyone know we are fasting (suffering) (16-18), store up treasures on earth (19-21) and serve two masters (24). If you manage to follow any of the recommendations in Matthew 6, you're doing more than OK. But you are also doing OK if you fail on all counts.

I agree with P’s advice on the "planning" side: if a community opportunity arises, go for it. I’m not sure I would have lasted very long without the diverse group of urban ‘misfits’ I share my life with. :)

Norm! said...

". . . Everyone says they put their future in God’s hands, but they have their own plans for marriage, family, careers, etc. I guess the difference with me is that my plans are so farfetched that I really can’t rely on them, whereas most people can continue being secure in their futures. Maybe that’s a blessing for me. Our little planned futures can be idols; I’ve come to know. If it doesn’t look like you have one before you, then you have to rely on God more, and trust that He will provide one for you. It’s harder, but maybe it’s better that way. . . ."

The folks who have their remaining life planned out (career, marriage, family, etc.) are a little humorous to me. Careers are often unexpectedly changed, marriages can end, family can be far from the nuclear ideal. There's nothing wrong with setting goals, but you're right that we shouldn't idolize such goals or be unwilling to change our goals in the face of reality.

If anything, Jay, you have an advantage in recognizing that few things in life can be accurately planned or predicted.

David Roberts said...

You might also include the possibility that one of those nice Side A guys will bring you over to his way of thinking as well ;)

You will probably never be harder on yourself as a believer than you are now. Nothing turns out the way you expect or even plan, and that's a very good thing.

Good luck this summer!

Anonymous said...

Hola Dios te bendiga yo no hablo ingles asi que no se si me entiendas lo que escribo jejeje. desde hace tiempo leo tu blog a travez de un traductor y e encontrado articulos muy interesantes como en este que te escribo .
es cierto pensamos sobre el futuro que nos espera para el mañana por que tambien lucho contra la atraccion al mismo sexo y se lo dificil que es pensar en el mañana y pues permanecer celibe es algo muy dificil aun que este este en el camino del Señor pues no deja de ser dificil , pero de que se puede se puede bueno bendiciones de Papa Dios.


Hello God bless you I do not speak English so I do not know if I understand what I write jejeje. long to read your blog through a translator ye articles found in this very interesting as you write.
it is true we think about the future that lies ahead for tomorrow that also fight against the same-sex attractions and how difficult it is to think in the morning and then remain celibate is something very difficult that this even in the way of the Lord because it is nevertheless difficult, but that can be can be good blessings of God Pope.

Jay said...

Joe: Good call! I guess any part of the Bible is hard to follow. It almost seems hopeless sometimes, but the moments of hope and peace are worth all the moments of doubt. Also, thanks for stopping by!

Norm: Yeah, I think I've always had a problem with wanting things that weren't good for me (although I think that's everyone's problem). This might all be more about wanting to appear like one of those people who thinks they are secure about their future rather than actually being one. Which of course is even more ridiculous!


David: I might, but it would take a lot of convincing. ;)

Anonymous: Thank you! It is good to hear from you. Please stop by again. God bless you. :)

naturgesetz said...

Jay,

As one Side B to another, I'll say it would be great if you meet one who is right for you and you for him. I've just started a blog, and I'm beginning to ask myself if there is any point to it now that I know yours exists. But I'm planning to tell some things about my own lifelong celibacy without the intimacy to which you aspire, and I hope it can be both cautionary and encouraging. So You may never find the person with whom to share your life. But even that does not have to destroy you or deprive you of joy.

I'm sure you've heard the joke/parable of the guy who was trusting in the Lord as the flood waters rose. It is at least a pretty good tangent here. The Lord's intervention is usually not clearly miraculous. Sometimes the Lord can work through our preparations.