It’s not the despair…I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.1

Seems like nearly everybody knows about my SSA these days. My landlord knows, for goodness’ sake. My landlord, H., also happens to be a coworker and an old friend, and someone who’s been through a lot himself — even before I knew some of the details, I always thought he had the look. I asked to use his office once so I could use the landline for a radio interview, and when he got inquisitive, I ended up telling him about the blog.

H. met my revelation with compassion and understanding, which is the reaction I’ve come to expect from Catholics. But a few days later, he had advice, too: “You need to take care of this,” he told me. “You need to make your life about taking care of this. There are guys who are experts. There are studies.” He had googled around, and wanted to know: had I ever heard of NARTH? Had I ever heard of Joe Nicolosi?

The thing about talking to men about your problems is that they, we, like to fix things, and sometimes that’s not what you need to hear. I knew he said what he said because he hated to see me suffer — I was in the thick of the roommate situation at the time — but the conversation upset me so much that, when I went back to my desk, I couldn’t see my code through the tears, and had to retreat to the bathroom till I could calm down.

Because I used to think that way. Then I stopped thinking that way. Then I didn’t know what to think, so I tried to quit thinking. There was a space of about two years, after attending Journey Into Manhood in ’08, when I did just what H. suggested. I read books, went to groups, forced myself to play basketball, made a habit of hanging out with Da Boys every chance I got.

Did that work? Was that good? I have no idea. I do think it’s largely responsible for the fact that I’m now comfortable with men, more or less — anyway it doesn’t usually make me feel all strung out and artificial and terrified to be in a group of guys, the way it used to, and I have a better sense of the rhythm of conversation.2 I’m glad about that.

But I wonder what else it did to me. It’s good to do things that scare you, if they’re good things; but doing things because they scare you looks an awful lot like masochism. It also looks like a lack of self-acceptance. How good did I have to get at socialization, or at basketball, before I decided I was good enough to just live my life?

I understand why ex-gays get vilified. If they’re wrong, if change is impossible, then they’re holding out false hope, and encouraging self-torture in men who are already prone to it. But if they’re right — and if you don’t follow that avenue, if you don’t do everything you can to get healed, get changed, get “fixed” — then you feel like a slacker, a slug. You feel like the double amputee who decided to just quit, just be a victim, instead of becoming a sprinter.

I wish somebody could tell me that it’s possible for me to get married one day, have kids, share a bed with somebody. Or, maybe even better, I wish somebody could tell me that that will never ever happen. It would be easier to hope if I knew there was something real to hope for. And if I could stop hoping — what a relief.

1 From the very excellent and exceedingly tragical comedy Clockwise, with John Cleese.
2 Several years ago, I mentioned in passing to Fr. T. that, when I was growing up, my family didn’t chat around the dinner table. Everybody got a book and we ate in silence, everybody reading. The way his eyes bugged out made me notice for the first time that there was maybe something a little weird about that, and that maybe possibly not all of my social difficulties were entirely my fault.

27 thoughts on “It’s The Hope

  1. JustinD

    Steve, peace of Christ, brother!

    I feel that your last paragraph may spark a landslide of opinions: do you mean get in bed with some man or some woman?

    Regarding a different part of your post:

    I was doing the stations of the cross yesterday and while mediating I found myself always applying Christ’s pains to myself. “Oh, here Christ’s falls for the third time. I’ve fallen, also. So many weights upon my shoulders. Oh, the struggle of it all.”

    Then, realizing my self-pity, I stopped and said, “Wait, Justin, I’m supposed to be meditating on the last moments of CHRIST, not my passing moments. Here Christ falls because of my sins and the sins of many. Here he is weighed down by my neglect and my self-affirming ego. And yet, he continues on because of his great love. He is love.”

    I say this because I think time spent hanging with the guys, reading books, posting blog entries, making radio show interviews: all of it is helpful for you, yes — I hope — but it is also an act of charity, a work for Christ, a work for his people. It is action being done for others. So no matter the pains or seeming uselessness of it all, or the seeming silence (for you) that they bring, it’s those little actions that are bringing countless graces to others.

    And, whatever your vocation may be: single life, marriage, etc. It seems that right now you are living a very important vocation of single life. Thank you for embracing that gifted cross with so many others of us — including myself!

    Reply
    1. Edy

      I am crying because I prayed the station of cross today before mass and I was meditating on Jesus falls for our sins. You said well Steve is doing a great job of mercy for many. Lets pray for him.

      Reply
  2. John

    I remember going through something like that. I was so terrified that anyone would find out I had bought the book, “The Battle for Normality” that I went to an ATM to get cash for fear that the title might somehow show up on a credit-card statement and my parents find out! I devoured the book, and found several descriptions of the mindset that I felt matched my own, but I also found a barely concealed disgust for those he had counselled and while I had sufficient self-hatred to accept that, it was a bitter pill. I started trying his method of self-humor, and while it certainly helped me take myself less seriously, there was certainly no diminishment in my sexual attraction to men. What is more, as I considered taking the rest of his program and eschewing all the “feminine” things in my life, I found myself praying one morning, fairly sad at the ridiculous idea of building back up a mock-straight personality, I said to our Lord, “Jesus, who will I even be to You if I go through with all this?” With that came a great deal of peace and probably the first inkling of real self-acceptance in my life. I never went back to these things again, although I did find Dr. Fitzgibbons ideas for meditiations to help a person forgive very helpful in terms of forgiving bullies and homophobes in my life. For myself I had to look at my desire and ask myself, “Why do you want what they have? Why do you want to be straight? You don’t desire what they desire, you only desire to be like them, so what good can come from that?” (As in Kierkegaardian despair over not being the other.) Reparative therapy may work for some people and I would never begrudge them the peace they have found, let alone hate them for it. But the implication that because it worked for them I am somehow less because I have no interest in it does not really follow, and I would reject this idea as a temptation.

    Reply
  3. Babs

    Brother.
    What *sometimes* works for me is making certain things Gods problem. Like in college how I didn’t want to be one of those girls who felt like she failed because she didn’t find a good Catholic man from FUS by the time she graduated. So, I put it on God and decided to be happy with my life as is. And I didn’t marry a
    Guy from FUS. Thank goodness, b/c my husband is AWESOME!

    Reply
  4. Br. Gabriel, OP

    Steve,

    I want to ask a really, really, controversial question. Your post made me think about it because you didn’t say anything about it explicitly but I felt it might be lurking in the background. The question is about the inner fear of not doing everything to “fix this” issue. What if part of the fear of and ostracism of reparative therapy is that it partially restores the notion that SSA is a mental disorder even though the clinical community has formally dropped SSA from the official list of mental disorders and diseases?

    Reply
  5. DanTheMan

    Steve,

    Since discovering it, I’ve read your blog with much interest and compassion. While we have different “takes” on SSA, I feel for you. Many LGBT Christians are so “strident” in their views that they leave no room for genuine discourse. Personally, I think you are wise in not trying to be “fixed” (when, as you probably guessed by now, I think you’re fine the way that you are. And, as a medical scientist, I really doubt that attempted superficial behavioral change (playing basketball with the boys) would change a deeply ingrained sexual orientation anyways.

    I reached my own crossroad at the ripe old age of 37. Then, to make a long story short, I “fell in love with my [male] chiropractor.” Prior to then, I had considered myself fully heterosexual in behavior in self-concept. You can imagine the sense of wonder and surprise that accompanied my newfound realization.

    We all need to make the decisions that are right for us in order to live our lives with integrity. I prayed about the meaning of this all and ended up concluding, “OK. I get it. I’m not going to try to fight this.” I came to the conclusion, after much reflection that I am bisexual (which creates even more antipathy in the LGBT and religious communities than adopting a homosexual identity…).

    I am a Christian and an active member of the United Church of Christ (which, as I suspect you know, is a “progressive” Protestant denomination…).

    I remember being in a coming out support group when a very nice, formerly-married lesbian asked me, “Why don’t you just be heterosexual and forget about the gay stuff?” I answered, “Because I can’t. Not and live an authentic life.”

    I suspect you and I differ on where “authenticity” lies. And that’s fine. But kudos to you for not attempting to “fix” yourself. I know that Courage, unlike most organizations of its genre, is not about sexual orientation change. A truly sage position, since scientific research almost universally finds such efforts are doomed to failure, and, at times, leaving depression and suicidality in their wake.

    I will pray for you as a brother in Christ. Not that you “change” to my path or that you “change” in sexual orientation (which, as I’ve said, seems to be pretty much impossible). Rather I pray for you that you find peace and understanding between yourself,
    God, and others.

    Blessings to you!

    Reply
    1. Steve Gershom

      Dan,

      Yes, our notions of “authenticity” (and probably a lot of other things) certainly differ! But I’m grateful that you’re able to present your experiences without trying to convince me of one thing or another. We could all use more of that.

      I have to admit that I don’t understand why it would be inauthentic to marry a woman, if you were emotionally & physically attracted to her, just because you were also emotionally & physically attracted to men, too. But maybe you meant it would be inauthentic for you in your particular circumstance, rather than inauthentic in principle?

      To clarify, I never expected playing basketball to effect a direct change in sexual orientation; I expected it to help me feel more like “one of the guys.” To an extent, it did, and I’m grateful for that. I’ve always felt that I could deal just fine with SSA and with celibacy if I were able to have healthy relationships with other men, and a healthy sense of masculine identity — that, and not necessarily a change in orientation, has always been my primary goal. I’ve made a lot of progress in both areas, and expect to make more.

      I’m also curious as to why identifying as bisexual would generate more antipathy (with either group) than identifying as gay or lesbian. That’s just a matter of my ignorance — frankly, I don’t have much contact with people who identify themselves as belonging to the LGBT community, so I don’t know how the politics work at all.

      Blessings and prayers to you too, brother.

      Steve

      Reply
      1. DanTheMan

        Dear Steve,

        Thank you for your candid and thoughtful reply. Bisexuality raises flags in both the liberal religious and collective gay communities. When I was going through my awakening (I don’t use the term “coming out” — because I never knew I was “in”), I received spiritual counseling from a UCC minister. He mentioned that in the “open and affirming” process that most congregants didn’t have a problem with ‘L’ and ‘G’ (after all, they can’t help it…I half-jokingly refer to this as the “birth defect model” of sexual minority status). But as for ‘B’ and ‘T’ some — but by no means all, nor even necessarily a majority — of the congregants were of the mind, “Why don’t they just straighten up and fly right?” (no pun intended).

        My mind immediately flashed back to years earlier (BCA, or “before conscious awareness”) when as a teenager I was soaking in the tub with the radio on in the background. A not very sensitive sounding priest (sorry, I’m sure such folks exist in every denomination…) proclaimed: “…and as for you so-called bisexuals, you’re almost worse than homosexuals: you could be normal, but you just don’t want to be…” I remember bursting out laughing, not knowing that two decades later those comments could be directed at me…

        Some in the gay community (especially men) question the legitimacy of bisexuality, thinking you’re just trying to pass or retain a facet of heterosexual privilege. Others view it as steeped in nonmonogamy (or “polyamory”) — which I have never engaged in nor would I accept in a partner.

        I think it’s great that playing basketball, etc. has made you — if I’m understanding correctly what you’re saying — more comfortable in affirming your own sense of masculinity and in relating to other men in a non-sexual way. That’s terrific!

        But I think many “change ministries” (for which I applaud Courage for taking a different tack),
        have reversed cause and effect. Yes, empirical studies have shown that childhood gender role nonconformity and having a distant relationship with Dad are more prevalent among gay men than their heterosexual peers. In a book that you may (or may not) be interested in perusing, Becoming Gay (not as polemic as it sounds…), psychoanalyst Richard Isay posits that instances of gender role nonconformity together with subliminal sexual attraction (remember we’re talking about the writings of a psychoanalyst here…) makes Dad uncomfortable interacting with an “odd” son, and he may unintentionally distance himself. But that didn’t “cause” the son to be gay, but was rather the effect of those feelings and behaviors deemed socially inappropriate.

        But repairing the strained relationship with Dad may be an important step, consequently, in personal growth, but not — in my opinion — of any use in changing sexual orientation.

        Even though it sounds like you and I have taken different paths, I believe we both share a deliberateness and sense of intentionality in exercising God’s remarkable gift of sexuality responsibly. I suspect we may differ somewhat in what the meaning of “responsibly” is. And — again — that’s perfectly okay.

        The process itself, for me, was an unexpected one, with many twists and turns along the way. Sometimes, I think God loves to surprise us.

        May you enjoy pleasant surprises and know that I am praying that you are surrounded by the path that’s right for you! Peace and joy, my brother!

        And your prayers for me would be most appreciated!

        Reply
  6. Karyn

    Steve, I have nothing to say on the issue of whether people with SSA can or can not be “fixed”. I’ve heard both sides and it seems they both make good points, but SSA is not an issue for me, so I’m not sure. Maybe it’s a both/and? Maybe there are some people who can be helped through therapy and others who can’t. I do know that the only one who can fix what is wrong with any of us is Jesus Christ.

    I want to thank you for being an agent of His love. Many of your posts speak to me and touch the areas of my life that need healing. I think you reach more people than you think, and not just those with SSA.

    I do feel compelled to share with you this video, which has nothing to do with SSA. It’s about being introverted, which I think you probably are. That is something we would share in common. Anyway, this woman’s book has really helped me to understand and accept being introverted. Maybe you’d find something useful in it too? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4

    Reply
  7. Gabriel

    Yes! I had no idea anyone else on earth had even heard of Clockwise! (“I saw her eying the sherry glasses. What does she need with sherry glasses when she doesn’t drink?” Etc.)

    Truly, there are few things as exasperating, and sometimes (as you recount) hurtful, as the well-meaning person who wants to fix you, or at the very least help you fix yourself. Ditto John’s remarks, too. The shallowness, and the apparent incapacity to listen to LGBT people sometimes, often makes me feel very discouraged about the possibility of ministry to same-sex attracted Christians. Not in and of itself, I mean, but in our current cultural situation. Everybody’s so bent on “winning the culture war,” and not noticing the casualties in real human souls. You know what, I’m going to stop here because I’m being super negative, and just say: Good job Steve, keep it up!

    Reply
  8. Edy

    When I did my confirmation last month I told my mother crying this may be the last time I received a one time in my life sacrament. I don’t know if I will get married, a priest or single forever but I have trust in Jesus and she hugged me and we cried. God I am crying again. ..God bless you.

    Reply
  9. TheGafster

    Steve, as a casual lurker on your blog for the past few months, I thought I’d chip in my two cents. I understand how difficult it is for you to share your feelings about SSA. As a “straight” male, I never really appreciated how hard it was for “gays” to live a chaste lifestyle according to the teachings of the Church.

    But now I do. Steve, I may not be a homosexual, but I understand the pain of lonliness. all I’ve ever wanted in life(aside from becoming a world-class novelist) is to get married, and raise a family. I’ve had wave after wave of disappointment crash over me. All I ever wanted was for someone to love, and to be loved in return.

    So, I know what it is to be lonely. I can only imagine what it is like for you. I can tell that it is possible to be married, and have a family. (I won’t bore you about the whole reparative therapy stuff- you probably already know about it. Although you should probably grab a copy of Dr. Satinover’s book, if you don’t already have it).

    My point is, is that I know what is to suffer. The Way of the Cross is not an easy one, even for the best of us. I have suffered intensely throughout my life. I have gotten angry at God, questioned why the things that have happened to me have happened. I’m not as far along in my life as I want to be. But I know that God has been with me all along, even in the darkest moments in my life.

    If there is anything that I have learned, is the value of redemptive suffering. I found that in order to get the things that I wanted, I had to let go of everything that I ever wanted, or had. And it was only when I did that, that things started to change.

    I’m not saying that will happen to you. But I will say that you should see this an opportunity to grow in holiness. Unite all of your sufferings to cross. Offer it up, as my father would say. But not just your sufferings. All your hopes and dreams, and ambitions- everything that you dread losing, or fear to lose. All that you struggle with. Just give to Jesus, and see what happens.

    And who knows? You might just get it back! God Bless You Steve, and good luck on your journey!

    Reply
  10. george

    As usual a deep authentic topic. Sorry we are being too long this time.
    With some years on (unfortunately it doesn’t mean wiser) my perspective about healing or not healing: I tried hard but didn’t get the appropriate help. Some time later I came across asome readings of “growth.”.and Cohen that helped me to a point. The “thing”(just to joke about it) faded for a time but it didnt disappear. However it doesn’t mean it cannot go away. No matter what “pope therapists” say, there is not conclusive evidence (and probably won’t be) to demonstarte one thing or the other. Of course around there are personal experiences with also both positive and negative “results”. But as you mentioned before: Is this the main point? I kept asking myself for years about future possibilities: to be married with kids, or forever alone. The hope? Besides what is mentioned in “better than fair”, I am still not sure: Perhaps the present day and the uncertainty as a not common pattern, taking the oportunities and help that appear on the way if I feel they are worth a try (without impositions): as these blogs:..I must say that contacting these blogs has been of the greatest things of the last years (not exagerating). Sharing the pain makes you closer with others and even a sort of family. I prefer to face the future thinking (is this lack of hope?, trying to be realistic?) that I’ll have to manage it alone (I have now less possibilities than most of you) but I am not closed to any unpredicted surprise.
    Thanks again.

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  11. Victor

    What George said, basically. The thing is, each time when I think I have made my peace with having SSA and the perspective of a lonely life, something happens that shatters my “faith”. Such as: the distinct feeling that God’s plan with me has not unfolded yet, dreaming of my unborn children, suddenly being convinced that one day I will be married with children. Perhaps these are just glimpses of the joy of life everlasting that hopefully await me, but perhaps… perhaps… God gives me signs not to give up. If He wants it, He can do it.
    The real question is: just because I wish to have a family, am I supposed to?

    Reply
  12. ck

    I bet you have more single female lurkers than you know. We, ironically, face similar issues. In the past, it was reasonable to expect that anyone could do the most normal thing in the world – get married and have a family. The sexual revolution and the pill changed all that. You know the cliche, “Why buy the cow if the milk is free?” The guy I’m supposed to be married to is probably out enjoying all the free “milk” instead of looking for a wife and ultimately we both end up lonely. Same with the “nice guys” who finish last – the woman he is supposed to be with is wasting herself on guys who look good or talk a good talk instead of who she is supposed to be with.

    I do some public speaking on Catholic sexual morality, but unless this teaching is embraced on a mass scale, I am just a human billboard that says, “If you embrace this teaching, you can expect to be lonely like me.” And yet, loneliness is better than self-destruction. Despite being alone (and I hope this doesn’t sound like bragging) I know I am “lit from the inside” because people tell me so. Even people who have only talked to me on the phone say, “That voice!” And if they ask, I tell them: it’s because I love God.

    So here I am, in my early forties and single, and ask myself, “Should I still hope?” Am I going to die without ever having found my “vocation”?

    And now for something completely different: I have a loved one who suffers from SSA and I’ve know for years but didn’t tell him because I didn’t feel it was my place. I finally told him I knew because I couldn’t take it anymore that he was thinking I (or anyone else in the family) would reject him if we knew. He needed to know he is so precious to us! Do you guys with SSA realize that WE are just as afraid that you will reject US! We don’t want you to “be” anything for us, just be truly safe and truly happy and get to heaven when you die. That’s all!

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  13. Lady Harriet

    ck–Just yesterday I attended the wedding of a wonderful woman I know from church who was getting married for the first time in her 40′s. It was also the 5th wedding anniversary for my aunt and uncle, who got married at 51 and 48 respectively, having lived alone their entire adult lives up to that point. I don’t know how common it is, but it does happen.

    Steve, I wanted to let you know how tremendously you have helped me personally. I’m a girl in my early 20′s and have had a rather difficult transition after graduating from college a year ago. My boyfriend of two years (although it was really more like three, since we spent about a year in that awkward “not-dating” phase you find so often in small Catholic colleges) broke up with me in January, only days after discussing marriage (and not for the first time, either.) He graduated a year before I did, and we had a well-functioning long-distance relationship until I got done with school. I was paralyzed by depression and fear, and got myself stuck back in my hometown (which I can’t stand), rather than just moving to where he lives without a job waiting for me. I’m still in love with him, and truly believe it is my vocation to be married to him, but he made it quite clear in a very painful phone conversation this week that he wants nothing to do with me. I’ve been in extreme emotional distress over this. I’m trying to surrender my will to God’s, but at the same time I feel certain that the man I’ve been in love with for three years is the person I’m supposed to be with. Last night, after getting home from this wedding I realized how much your struggle has inspired me, Steve. Your work to reconcile your own desires with God’s plan for you is something I need to emulate, and your thoughts on dealing with depression give me hope. Your blog is the most spiritually nourishing thing I have read on the internet.

    As far as thoughts on hope, I leave you with the words of T.S. Eliot, which have been really helpful to me as of late:

    “I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
    For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
    For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
    But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
    Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
    So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

    I have no idea what I’m doing, but Steve, you help me go on. I am so grateful.

    Reply
  14. Joshua Gonnerman

    Beautifully said, Steve. While I don’t dismiss reparative therapy entirely, success rates are so small, and success so ill-defined, that it ends up becoming a sort of false hope. The unspoken implication that you are slacking off if you aren’t a great success story is all too familiar to me, here and in other areas.

    I grew up in prosperity gospel type circles, where the theology was “if you have enough faith, God will heal you/give you a house/give you a spouse/whatever.” Every once in a while, someone would really feel the implications; I remember a woman breaking down in tears, and asking the pastor “Does the fact that I have to wear glasses mean I’m not a good Christian?” He had no real answer for her, and the eager promotion of reparative therapy ends up having much the same effect on non-straight Christians.

    Even worse, realizing the falseness of a false hope often leads to the opposite extreme of despair. I know too many people who were pushed towards ex-gay ministries and reparative therapy, spent five, ten, fifteen years in them, realized it didn’t work, and walked abandoned the traditional sexual ethic or even the Church altogether. Hope can be so very, very dangerous.

    Reply
  15. anonymous

    Hello Steve

    Let me share with you about what helped me.
    If ssa is similar to heterosexuality except in that it’s oriented towards a person of the same sex,then what I share might make sense.
    I’m a woman. And when I was younger and more of a rule-book catholic,scrupulosity was a major problem. The very thing I wanted to avoid at that time kept becoming the elephant in the room that I couldn’t but bump into :/
    So my sruples arose from merely having a crush on a guy.I didn’t fantasize.Because before I could go anywhere near that area, my brain would be frying with guilt..(of course only metaphorically )… So I would run to confession and ‘lust’ would be on my list of sins.Almost every week.[because I had read that when we confess even the small sins ,we get grace to overcome even those... and mother teresa n JP2 went frequently,so it was easy to go to confession ]…[of course this created the second problem of self-rightoeusness...(it was complicated living in my head back then).]
    So instead of seeing guys as PERSONS , I just thought ,” I think he likes me.” etc. It kind of ruined the possibility of developing any meaningful relationships with the opposite sex. Anyway, as time has passed ( that phase too has passed.) It could be maturity kicking in or the theory that confession gives us new grace to hack away at the monster hiding in our closet one hair follicle at a time:P donno… like growth, grace too is invisible,hence my dilemma. Faith tells me,it’s grace.
    Funnily enough,at one of my frequent confessions,the priest told me that my problem ,more than sin, was focusing too much on myself. He told me to shift my focus to :outside of me…hmm.:) Jesus can help us live with ourselves (no matter how messed up our circuits are) and bear good fruit too!! :) Trust Him.
    I’m just thinking… would it make it easier,if no one need know that we are waiting for a healing?… Like if I am married,(which I am ,now) then no guy is allowed morally to make a pass at me… you know, I’ve become consecrated to my husband and to Jesus,no? Telling the world,I’m forbidden fruit, makes it easier for me and for them… its liberating.So now everyone is a PERSON and not prospective boyfriend material.Cos this declaration works on us(the declarants) too unconsciously…(am I making sense?…(bear with me)]
    So if you become a consecrated brother…[not a priest (cos,yes, they wouldn’t allow that ..) but a lay missionary… you would have an identity and that would change the focus from the sexual aspect of our life to the personal life mission part,no?
    I know,that without a help mate life is difficult,but even with a help mate it can be difficult … only God can ultimately satisfy us.
    Sexual pleasure like the yumminess of chocolate lasts for an ‘un’remarkably small span of time,no?…it’s just a preview or sample taster of the good things to come which God has kept for us in His heart,in Heaven :) So cheer up, there are things more wonderful,than choclate and sex …no?
    Pier Georgio Frassati, was frustrated in his love life,the girl he loved, didnt love him back… different pain,but pain nevertheless… but he’s beatified,God’s plan was still fulfilled in Him.
    “The hope that I can’t stand”… let me comment on that from experience.Sobred from stupid hoping… a hurtful yet teaching life experience.
    I spent more than a year “hoping” that a particular christian guy would fall in love with me!…I know,how lame right?… Instead of praying with open-ended hope (which is the required thing) I prayed with specific ( though unfounded) “hope”… that “hope” was “my will”. I prayed for my will and even fooled myself into believing that this was God’s will too. Well, suffice it to say, I set myself up for a MAJOR disappointment…:/… So don’t relieve yourself of hoping…just hope for the right things,that’s all.
    Sirach 2:9 “you who fear the Lord, hope for good things,
    for everlasting joy and mercy.”
    @ CK : Every moment of our life,lived with joy.bearing good fruit,with the hope that God is working out His plan in us IS our ‘vocation’ :)We are not going to truly die…we are alive, in Christ,forever ;)..i think, spiritually ,it’s a continuum …

    Reply
  16. Mary

    It might sound hopeless, but maybe you might be called to be single. I know that sounds weird; is “singleness” even a vocation? Maybe not in the same way that Holy Orders or marriage is, but God can, and certainly does, work through single people just as much as he works through others.

    I myself am a woman who, I suppose people would call heterosexual, though I’m not usually attracted to anyone (Though I, like you, would like to be married). I’ve come to accept that I’ll probably continue to be single for the rest of my life, but I know I can serve God by doing that and be happy. After all, this life is just a prelude to the next. We should try to do our best in whatever situation we are in.

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  17. Joshua Gonnerman

    Mary, I definitely think that the single life is a major lacuna in Catholic thought. It seems to me that, quite often, this neglect of (non-vowed) singleness in the face of the emphasis on marriage can makes the burdens of celibacymeven heavier.

    Reply
  18. Narcissus Goldmund

    I think the only reason the single life could be considered a major lacuna in Catholic thought is because it is the state out of which one is called. There is vocation to the married life or to the priesthood/consecrated life. I am not sure that I would call the single life a vocation.

    Personally, I am pretty much convinced of a call to the priesthood. My SSA renders this highly unlikely, but I did give it my best shot.

    I believe there are huge numbers of us singles who are called to religious life or the married life, but are so damaged (by a multitude of factors) as to be unable to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of those states. There was an eye-opening post on this at another blog a couple of months ago. I am not sure the post is still up, but it blew my mind and put into words for the first time something I had deeply felt but was unable to verbalize.

    Does it make it easier? A little. The thought of a wife and children is incredibly comforting, but highly unlikely. Alone is okay, lonely is not.

    Like Steve, I read the books and tried the martial arts thing (although not basketball – my “sports wound” revolved around basketball and it still makes me nauseous). Bottom line: they gave me hope where there was none before. And I had a measure of success and some mitigation of symptoms. My goal now is not “change” but to at least feel like a man for the first time in my life.

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  19. mary

    I heard a speaker earlier this year who spoke about vocation in a different sort of way. Basically, each of us has a vocation to be Christ-like and to be Christ to the world, every day and at every point in our lives. Being single and constantly feeling that “I’m not living my vocation yet” is unfulfilling and can allow me to excuse myself from the responsibility I have NOW to live a vocation. I have always desired to be married and have a family; I believe that is my vocation. But does that mean that the past 30 years have been a sort of limbo? Or does being single have its own vocational rules? I lean toward the latter.

    In an unrelated matter, I have been struggling with a question, and this seems like a good place to ask it. Friends of mine are in a relationship – they were when I met them, but I didn’t know they were lesbians and so they were just people. This summer they are having a “commitment” ceremony. As I said, they are friends, and I care for them and certainly do not want to be hurtful, but I can’t in good Catholic conscience attend their ceremony. What do I say? What do I do?

    Reply
  20. WeAreAllBroken

    This life has shown me
    how we’re mended and how we’re torn,
    how it’s okay to be lonely as long as you’re free.
    Sometimes my ground was stony
    and sometimes covered up with thorns
    and only You could make it what it had to be.

    Reply
  21. Alejandra

    Hello, my Friend.

    Consider the following passage and for verse 31, substitute something to the likes of “this open wound” or “this ontological problem” or however you most simply can describe to yourself the sensation of anguish, non-existence, or weight you life under. Staring at that Cross won’t make it disappear from your shoulders.

    <> Matthew 6: 31-33

    I hope that helps.

    Reply

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