“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)