Self-Sufficient

For many years, I’ve tried to be self-sufficient in as many areas of my life as possible.  I think this is rooted in a few different parts of my personality.  First, my strong sense of justice chafes at asking someone for something without offering anything in return.  I don’t like my relationships to feel out of balance; at least I don’t want to be the one feeling indebted to the other person.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want other people feeling indebted to me either, but I prefer to feel like I give at least as much as I get in a relationship.  This ties in to the second thing which is that I tend to treat my friendships as delicate and fragile and I’m afraid that if I’m not careful, they’ll shatter.  This makes me hesitant to rely on people because I’m afraid if I’m seen as a burden, it will irreparably damage the friendship that I value so much.  Finally, I think pride plays a big part in it.  I want to be strong enough, wise enough, hardworking enough to prove that I don’t need anyone else.  I want people to see me keeping it together no matter what life throws at me.

Unfortunately, as a result, I often feel closed off from others.  I don’t often let people in on my struggles and worries, I don’t let them see the tears when I’m hurting.  It’s a difficult place to be because as much as I like looking like I’ve got a handle on things, I’m not ashamed to talk about my weakness, but as previously mentioned, I don’t want to be a burden.  I don’t want to bum people out with my sob stories; it’s so much easier to just stick to surface level topics and keep the mood light.  It’s also hard because I know, in most cases, there’s nothing my friends can do for me and I personally hate that feeling of helplessness when a friend is experiencing trouble in their life, but there’s not one thing I can do about it.  I want to get in there and fix the problem, but when that’s not an option, it can turn into an exercise in frustration and futility.

I think, in a way, this need to be self-sufficient ties in to my singleness.  My default mode is co-dependency, I want to care for someone and have them care for me and to be so wrapped up in each others lives that we can’t imagine another way to be.  Without someone to fill that role, I’ve shut myself off decided I have to be completely independent, but what I think I really need is a balance.  I need to find a way to rely on friends, share our burdens with each other, but still be strong enough to make it on my own when push comes to shove.  My prayer today is that God would help me find that balance.

Love: Simple and Yet Infinitely Complex

I’ve been thinking a lot about love over the last couple weeks.  It’s such a simple idea that even young children, soon after learning to talk, can verbally express love.  Yet, at the same time, when you think about it, love is a very difficult word to define.  I think that every single person you ask would have a different way of describing this concept that is so central to our everyday lives.  On top of all that, there are so many different types of love: familial, romantic, social, etc. and the lines between them can be so easily blurred.

What got me thinking these thoughts is that I recently began to feel something the seemed a lot like love (no, not the Ashton Kutcher/Amanda Peet romcom, blech).  I felt intense feelings for this person and repeatedly imagined what it would be like if we were together, but at the same time, my logical mind realized that there was no basis for this fantasy relationship, no shared experience, no reciprocated feelings of affection, none of the elements that make up a relationship.  On top of that, there were so many obstacles to anything coming of it that the thought we could be together is almost laughable.  Despite all of that, it took several days of conditioning myself and grieving before I was finally able to let go of something that was never really anything to being with.

I frequently and easily fall into what some people would call love, but I don’t think that’s an honest description of these feelings.  I meet someone and very quickly feel a connection to them, often based on the smallest shared interest or experience.  I then seek out more information about them inevitably leading to more connections and then I start thinking about how good it would be to spend time with that person.  It very rapidly turns into something approaching obsession, but in reality, it’s a desperate desire to be known, cared for, and wanted.  I have often had to acknowledge that I have an intense fear of being alone for the rest of my life and this fear often results in me filling that empty space in my future with idea of anyone who seems like they may fit.  I think a better exercise would be to fill those spaces with the friends and family who are already in my life and also by seeking God and allowing Him to speak into those places and alleviate those fears.  I think I could also stand to cultivate an appreciation for alone time and practice the discipline of solitude.

A Father’s Love

People have come up with a lot of theories on why some people are gay, some are straight, and some are in between.  It’s been attributed to biology, sexual abuse, parental relationships, and countless other markers.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I’m gay and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll probably never know and that I don’t really care because the why of it isn’t really important.  However, in pondering this question, I did think a lot about my relationship with my parents, particularly my dad.  As seems to be a trend with many gay guys, my dad and I didn’t have a great relationship when I was growing up.

When I was a kid, my dad was under a lot of stress: my family was struggling financially, my parents’ marriage was on the rocks, and my dad was spending every day at an unfulfilling job, watching his future slip away.  I didn’t know any of this at the time which made it impossible to understand why he was so upset and standoffish.  At that time, I saw my dad as a source of fear, definitely not a beacon of love and support.  Looking back and analyzing him through the idea of the five love languages, he definitely never expressed love through physical touch or words of affirmation and quality time and acts of service certainly weren’t his forte.  However, recently I’ve discovered that my dad had been showing love the whole time through gifts and sacrifice.

I wasn’t aware of it back then, but now, when I consider what my parents were able to provide with so little money and how much they gave up for my brother and me, it speaks of an enormous amount of love.  I found out fairly recently that my parents love to travel, but I don’t think they went on a single real vacation the entire time I was growing up.  No matter how tight things were, my parents always made sure their was food on the table, clothes on our bodies, and gifts under the tree at Christmas.  People don’t just give up the things they want unless it’s for something they truly care about and I wish I had been able to appreciate the full measure of my dad’s love instead of being upset that he wasn’t expressing his affection in the way I wanted.

All of this leads me to wonder if these facts have influenced my relationship with God.  The way I’m used to experiencing love is through gifts, through receiving what I want.  I think sometimes I don’t feel God’s love for me because He rarely gives me what I ask for.  It’s hard for me to feel His love in other ways: the words of affirmation through the Bible seem to be meant for someone else, the quality time seems insignificant when it lacks physical presence and verbal responses, and obviously anything involving touch is off the table.  Acts of service seem to be the primary method God has used to show His love; He sent His son to live and die for us, but again, He did it for us, not for me.  I’ve heard it a million times, “even if it was only you, God still would have sent Jesus, He still would have suffered and died because He loves you,” yet somehow it seems so hard to internalize.  Sometimes I think it’s because I’ve heard it so many times it’s lost it’s meaning.  I hope that I am eventually able to understand God’s love for me, but I think I need to grow in wisdom and my understanding of love.

Let’s Talk About Eunuchs

I think it’s a pretty common occurrence, but I’ve noticed that the older I get, the less I care about sex.  When I was a teenager, I thought having sex was one of the most important things in the world; I lusted, I obsessed, I dreamed about it.  In my early twenties, I still thought of sex often and I still desired it, but it had lost much of its mystical importance.  Now, as I’m approaching thirty, I’ve realized that I hardly care about it at all.  If some magical genie appeared out a lamp or whatever and gave me the choice between having all the sex I want for the rest of my life, but having no romantic attachment or having a loving celibate relationship, it would be a no brainer.  I think this is why, at this point, I’m very open to either a mixed orientation marriage or a celibate gay relationship; in both situations, physicality is going to take a distant back seat to the emotional part of the relationship and that’s more than OK with me.  Now you maybe be wondering what this has to do with eunuchs.  Well, I’m getting to that.

11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”  -Matthew 19:11-12

When I read this passage, I find myself wondering, “Am I one of ‘those to whom it has been given?’ Can I ‘accept this?'”  To really know that, I need to determine what “it” and “this” are and for that, I need to have a full and accurate description of the word eunuch.  I looked up all the instances of it’s use in the Bible and virtually all of them seemed to use the word interchangeably with the word servant, sometimes seeming to imply a certain type of servant.  I read through several definitions of this word from various Bible dictionaries and though most of them associated the word eunuch with those unable to have sex, many also suggested that was merely the origin of the word and that it was also often used to describe a person in a position typically held by someone who had be castrated.  This leads me to conclude that Jesus is likely referring to someone who will serve Him without the interference of sex.

The next question, then, is whether the benefit of a sexless servant is in the lack of sex or the foregoing of romantic attachments.  From the aforementioned research, it sounds like the primary purpose of making someone a eunuch was to ensure that the servant could be trusted around women (primarily the king’s concubines) which suggests that lack of sex drive was the primary motive.  I also found it interesting that many of the definitions I read, when talking about eunuchs, inextricably attach sex and marriage.  Strong’s Concordance go so far as to describe a eunuch as “someone who abstains from marriage (sexual relations) to be solely devoted to God.”  Notice how “sexual relations” is used parenthetically after marriage as if you can’t have one without the other?  With all this in mind, how does Jesus’ metaphor apply to our situation today?

To me, it sounds like any type of celibate relationship would not have been considered a true marriage, though that is, admittedly based only on Biblical resources with no actual biblical citations to back them up.  It seems that two people in a committed relationship (no matter their gender) sans-sex would still be considered “eunuchs” in Jesus’ eyes.  Is this conclusion accurate?  Who knows?  Does it matter?  Probably not.  Did I go off on a huge tangent for no apparent reason?  Yes.  Well, that’s all I’ve got.  Over and out.