Friday, April 16, 2010

Number One

I have to admit that I'm enjoying my time in Belize, but at the same time I am feeling very homesick, and am struggling with an almost crushing loneliness and depression. It happens often, but sometimes it's worse than usual, and much more difficult to push through. Just so you know, this post doesn't mean I'm dying. I think these musings are authentic thoughts for any single person, especially those who are Christian and gay. If the Christian culture in which we live was not so plastic, perhaps more would share instead of trying to appear strong.

A lot of this depression centers around the concept of being number one. I don't mean number one at my job or at a particular sport. I mean number one to another person. I have many friends in relationships, married, dating, straight, gay, or ex-gay. They each see their boyfriends and girlfriends, or husbands and wives, as their number one person. If there was a fire, and everyone they knew was in the building, and yet they could only save one person, they would be spared. And everyone else in the building would probably also have a number one who would save them as well.

But not me. I'm not saying that as a, "Woe is me," kind of thing. It's simply a fact. Sure, I have lots of friends and family, but with all of them, I am not important enough to be considered number one. I'm number five or six, at best, with my siblings, because their spouses and children rightly come first. I'm a background character in all of my friends' lives. If every life was a television show, I wouldn't be a star in any one's. I'd be that wacky neighbor who shows up every three episodes.

I want to be number one. I want someone to save me if they had to choose one person to save. I know, the Christians here are going to say that Jesus should be my number one, and he is, but if those Christians are married or in relationships, I will politely tell them to be quiet. Jesus loves everyone, and doesn't play favorites. I want to be one person's favorite.

And I'm sure people are going to say that's selfish. Again, if those people are married, I'll remind them that they're eating cake, and they're asking me to be content with crumbs. I'll be content with crumbs: None of this should raise alarms to people who are concerned about my walk. My feelings don't change my views and I live according to the latter, not the former.

The main problem is that I can't fix this. It's a hard reality. Even for the single people who are totally content, that doesn't change the fact that -- unless they have a best friend who is also single -- they are no one's number one. I know I can push through this. I'm active, I'm friendly, I'm involved. I thrill seek (went rock climbing this past week) and do what I need to do to make it through, but the fact is I'm not any one's number one, and the guy who is mine (my brother, who I consider my best friend) puts his wife and children first, and I tie with my sister.

And yes, I really do have my relationships ranked in list form. It's how my mind works. I guess my main question is how do I live with this? It's a fact. Even if I do get married one day, it will still be a fact for other single people out there. So what can be done? How do you live when you are no one's number one, when that's one of the primary drives that we have as human beings? If you are single, how do you cope with it? If you are married, what do you do to comfort and ease the pain of your single friends, because I don't want to call people out, but I do think that's your responsibility. I don't think just leaving the single people to their own devices is a good idea, but of course that's how the church often acts, because once people have their number ones, they often just forget about everyone else who doesn't.

14 comments:

letraperdidas said...

Hey man.
It's been awhile since i've read a good blog. Loved this part in particular, "I'm a background character in all of my friends' lives." You raise some deep questions, which I think about as well.
Yeah- Jesus is number one, that's a given. (sarcastic)
I think it's just hard times to realize that we aren't alone and that for Jesus we are his number one. But once again, our fleshly beings unable to fully understand his love often fall into a state of doubt.
Maybe that number one idea is just something that we all would like to believe? Does it really exist? Of course we have our loved ones and lovers, but maybe its not even about being number one? Regardless I can relate to this post a lot. Funny thing is sometimes personally for me and from others we just want assurance from others that we are their "number one." In addition, independence is a trait so hard to acquire, but without I don't think we can be successful beings. This is ramble, anyways I hope you're doing well in Bellize!
Ciao Ten cuidado mi hermano en cristo!

Neo said...

Jay,

I wish I had some magic solution to your issues or something, but I don't. I can't lie and say you'd be the number one person on my list (not that you'd believe me anyway), but I do care about you and pray for you often. Why do you think I keep trying to arrange a hang-out time?

I can say that it's important to focus on Christ, have close relationships with your brothers and sisters in the Church, and stay strong. That doesn't mean everything will be peachy all the time, but it is the means of grace Christ has provided us as best as I understand.

I've thought about the number one person a bit before, although not extensively, and I guess it just doesn't bother me that much at this point. Of course, part of that may be that I do have a significant chance of getting married in the future, but part of it is just being mostly content with where I am now. I guess for me being on several people's "important" list is enough, at least for now. It's normal to have bad days and good days, so don't despair. I wish I had something more substantial to offer.

And of course, I'll be praying for you!

AJ said...

Jay I definitely can relate. I too am really close to my brother and consider him my best friend. Well after he got married a year or so ago it just has not been the same. And I know that its only right for him to put his wife first in front of friends but now I sometimes feel like the third wheel when I go over and hang out with him.

Another thing I noticed is alot of couples seem to only want to do things with other couples even when there is no reason for it. Its almost like they are purposefully excluding their single friends even if they really are not doing it consciously. It really makes it hard for single people to feel wanted. Its like we are not part of the special couples club or something so we don't deserve an invitation.

I wish I had some positive thing to say but I have been feeling really down about this very thing of late.

I want you to know that I will be praying for you though that God will let you really feel His presence when you are feeling lonely and fill your loneliness with His love.

Maybe someday God will provide us with our #1's.

Suffering Servant said...

I really appreciate you talking about this honestly and openly. As a celibate christian who also share your particular SSA "struggle," these thoughts also cross my mind frequently. I guess I could never before quite verbalize what I was feeling in the lack of being someone else's number one. I may be a bit different from you (not sure) in the fact that I am generally a person who is very much a "loner" so to speak. By this I mean I am a person who lives in solitude, which in itself can be difficult.

Jay, maybe this is part of our hope in the resurrected Christ. I think that this persistent loneliness is constant reminder that while we are brokenhearted and can be depressed, there will come a day when we will finally enjoy the fulfillment that we really crave.

Joe S said...

Hi Jay,

Sorry to hear you are feeling so low.

It's difficult to say this without sounding really patronising but you have just got to focus on other things and people will come along who do rate you as their "number one".

Someone recently told me I was his "best friend". Although I love this guy dearly, it was a huge shock as he is very popular and I thought there were lots of other guys he would much rather hang out with.

Set aside your relationships list for a while and see what happens. :)

MR said...

On some airlines, the flight attendants try to make the routine safety presentation a little more interesting by injecting humor. One time passengers were instructed in the event of cabin depressurization to put on their own oxygen mask first, and then to assist a young child with his. If there was more than one child, the flight attendant said to decide which one you love more!

Of course, human love sets priorities, since it is not infinite, but God’s love is infinite, and we as Christians are called to show God’s love to others. God’s love is expressed in giving and serving: “For God so loved the world that He gave…” “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life…”

As a Christian who is celibate, I am called to express God’s love to others by giving and serving, even if I am not #1 to the one I love. Jay, as you said, it is painful to be no one’s #1, but for me it eases that pain when I ask God to change my heart and He then shows His love to others through me. My mentality becomes less “who loves me?” and more “who can I love?” I find great satisfaction and meaning in this, knowing that God is being glorified eternally while I am just suffering temporarily! It is very possible to have solid joy in the middle of temporary suffering, because I know that God’s eternal joy is worth far more than whatever I have to give up here and now!

donsands said...

"I know I can push through this. I'm active, I'm friendly, I'm involved."

Jesus cares for you, and with a good mind and heart as you have, and attitude, your number one, and you being number one may just come along.

Actually there's no words really to help at times.

And sometimes words can be like pouring salt into a wound.

But I will try to pray for you that God would help you with this.

Here's a song that helped me through a heavy time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64uVGQ7EcjI

Be blessed in His love for you Jay.

tmddstett said...

why is it that you feel/think/believe that you need to be someone's number one? i think that's what you really ought to be looking at? what is it about the way you're wired, what is it about your life, spiritually or otherwise, that isn't there that makes you think that anyone other than Christ can provide what only Christ promises?

perhaps it's because Truth isn't in you until it's actually IN you... you really ought to check out this article http://www.mygazines.com/issue/7131/84

Cristine said...

Don't even know you, but my heart just breaks for you. I'll be praying for you. Keep up the good work!

donsands said...

I read the article on The Lord's Supper. It was a good one.

Christ is always in those who love Him. And even the Father is in us, as the Holy Spirit came and regenerated us, and made us new creatures in Christ.

Communion is a way to witness, and declare our faith, and it is a sacred time to join with the Lord in a special grace. He truly did give us His body to eat, and His blood to drink, BUT it is spiritually understood. Not as the Catholics teach that the bread actually becomes Jesus flesh, and the wine turns into His actual blood. That is heresy.

I just partook in the Lord's Supper with my church, Bishop Cummins Reformed espicapol, and we do celebrate the death of Christ for our sins, but we also believe God ministers His great grace to us as we eat the bread and drink the wine.

If i never took Communion again, I will still have the presence of Christ in my heart and soul, and I will at times have the Spirit touche my heart and I shall experience the love, joy, and peace of Christ in different degrees.

Thanks for sending a link to that article.

thinkrqp said...

Dear friend,

First off, don't feel bad about ranking friends. How else will you know who will inherit what if you die in a freak accident? Hahaha.

I've actually never thought about being #1 for someone. I've never really thought about me missing out on anything either.

Obviously, I am open to a relationship in the future, but that by no means guarantees that I'll be in one. So, I'm single indefinitely and it's not that bad. However, I will say that I think I had more anxiety about it when I was Side B.

I don't have any grand advice other than to say you make be romanticizing relationships a bit too much. They are a lot of work and require a lot of compromise.

This comment is not really going where I wanted it to. Just realize that being single has it's own advantages and you should enjoy this time in your life as much as possible. Also, realize that just because you think that you will be single forever, it ain't necessarily so.

naturgesetz said...

Jay — So many people speak of their desire for a "relationship." Your description of it as wanting to be number one for somebody (who is presumably number one for you) is a strikingly new way of putting it, which enables us to see it in another light and so deepens our understanding.

As a 67 year old lifelong celibate, all I can say is that accepting that I must remain celibate certainly has made it easier than it would otherwise have been. Not realizing that it was morally possible to have a chaste, intimate friendship also made it easier. Being temperamentally a loner also made it easier. Although now I think chaste intimacy might be possible for me, I did not go through life up to now thinking that I was missing something.

Still, even though I don't think I ever had the generalized feeling, "I want a relationship," or "I want to be number one for somebody," there have been specific individuals whose number one I wanted to be.

I remember that at one time you thought you could have a chaste and emotionally intimate relationship with someone, but you found you could not maintain it. I gather remaining chaste was the problem. That puts you in pretty much the position I thought I was in.

Let me put it this way. The more you allow yourself to think about what you don't have, the more unhappy you'll make yourself. Feelings occur to us unbidden, and your feelings are not at all surprising. But try not to dwell on them and indulge them. Try to think of something else. The primary coping mechanism is coming to accept and realize that this is how it is going to be.

That may sound bleak and harsh. But I don't think living it has to be. You really can have joy in your relationship with the Lord, in your work, in your friendships, in your hobbies. So enjoy the good things. Because I was wrong in saying that accepting is the primary coping mechanism. It is the preliminary mechanism; but the primary one is enjoying all the good in your life.

Rose said...

Jay, when you have a child (by adoption, or marriage, or other serendipity), you will suddenly, irrevocably become the number 1 to a person who feels exactly the same way about you. It's amazing. Really amazing.


I have little doubt you will be a father one day, and it will make that particular void disappear in a nanosecond.

Nathan said...

Jay,

One of the reasons I appreciate your blog so much is that you articulate so many of my feelings. You expressed exactly how I feel regarding a desire to be someone's number 1 concern. It's impossible to ignore the sense of deprivation and loneliness that results from the lack of that special person who would consider me to be his first human concern.

These are my favorite lines from your post:
"I want to be number one. I want someone to save me if they had to choose one person to save. I know, the Christians here are going to say that Jesus should be my number one, and he is, but if those Christians are married or in relationships, I will politely tell them to be quiet. Jesus loves everyone, and doesn't play favorites. I want to be one person's favorite."