I just finished reading a book entitled Single, Gay, Christian – A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity, by Gregory Coles, and was awakened to more from that than almost any other book I have read this year. The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, was a tie. I am a straight woman who has gone through a divorce, and while reading Coles’ book, at times I felt like his head was where I wanted mine to be. I picked it up as a responsible writer who is trying to learn what it is like to be in the shoes of the man who I’m writing about (he happens to be gay). But what I learned while reading was just as much related to me, my walk with my God, and the intimacy I desire. The young author labored over Scripture for years to figure out what to do with his predicament that contradicted everything he had been living for and has now committed to a life of celibacy. I was intrigued.
While he was not thrilled about being a gay man and tried for years to find another way, Coles has discovered the following to be true:
“The calling to gay celibacy is a calling to longing. It’s an admission that our deepest sexual desires can wait for another world, for another life, for another kind of fulfillment. But a life of longing isn’t a life without happiness. On the contrary, it’s a life rich with detail, alive with wonder and beauty. It’s when I am happiest that I long most. And someday, when I look into the face of my Savior, I will taste the fulfillment of an intimacy a thousand times sweeter than any pale earthly imitation.“
A thousand times sweeter. Yes.
I was stuck in Psalm 106:14-15 last week because it says that the Israelites only cared about pleasing themselves and this provoked God, so He gave them what they wanted – along with empty hearts. I love Coles’ words above because they remind me that just because there might be some denial of what our flesh wants, it doesn’t mean that we are empty. Our empty hearts come when we think we can find happiness outside of what God has given us. I do think that we can still have “a life rich with detail and alive with wonder and beauty“. It’s about how we choose to see – and what we choose to see as beautiful.
“There is a kind of love that I’ve forsworn, and it’s a real denial, a painful one. But I’ve received a hundred kinds of love in its place. It seems selfish asking for pity when I’m so unspeakably rich.” – Gregory Coles
So, for now, I am choosing to be content in my singleness. One of the ways I can do this is by continuing to create. My recent delve into The Artist’s Way has helped me to realize that as I write, I am creating, and because God created me in His image, I am made to do that. I think we all are. It brings us life. I am not at all where I want to be as far as ability goes, but it’s fun for me and it’s a craft that I can continue to work on and grow in.
“To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
I have read a few times that spirituality is not so much about adding things and becoming more, but really it is about subtracting. It’s when we start to let go of stuff – our desires for certain foods, or drink, or clothes, or a partner to do life with, that we begin to find we already have what we need. This is when we find that other kind of fulfillment.
- I have learned that I need set times of solitude and silence each day in order to fully accept who I am, who God is in me, and others as they are.
- I have learned that my African friends are a gift from God to show me how little we need to be happy.
- I have learned that when I long for (obsess over) something to bring me comfort or joy that is not Jesus, it’s gotta go. And when I do let go, it’s just the beginning of noticing and loving and seeing beauty in more things – like flowers and birds and crazy stuff like that that I never used to notice.
- I have learned that I need to write every day, to create a little bit, or I feel like I missed some living that day.
- I have learned that my girlfriends are a gift from God to me and that my recovery group is a big hug from Him that I get to walk into every week.
- I have learned that worship in song reminds me how in love I am and I need that reminder every single day – often loud and in the car or with a gentle whisper during my sunrise walks.
- I have learned that when I come alongside those who are forsaken or forgotten I am actually the one who gets poured into.
- I have learned that my two-hour date with Jesus every morning is like sleep – not an option and necessary for functioning properly. I actually love waking up just as much as going to bed.
- I am learning that every time I choose to accept and allow and forgive and show mercy rather than critique and judge and condemn, my heart gets a little softer and fuller at the same time. Each time that I do this, I am reminded that what I already have is what I truly want and this brings me peace and joy.
“From head to the heart – you take me on a journey – of letting go – to get lost in you… There’s no shame in looking like a fool when I give you what I can’t keep to take a hold of you” – United Pursuit