I was listening to “By and By” by Phil Zito’s band on the way home. (But of course, as the jazz nerd that I am, I was listening to a transfer that I made myself from the original 78 with my Crosley USB turntable.)
Almost the entire time the song was playing in my car, I cried. I’ve been fairly emotional for the past few days. I think it’s due largely to the overwhelming support I’ve had from guys I have class with.
In the course of a conversation I had the other night with two awesome friends, I disclosed that there are things I won’t even post here about myself…things that I suspect that if my closest friends knew, they would disown me…or at least keep their distance. In my mind, if I’m a window that my seminary brothers can look through to help minister to people who wrestle with homosexuality (or even those who fully embrace it), then that’s great.
Maybe even if they know me as someone who is lonely from time to time, then that’s a little more risky…but as long as I spread out my expectations of who I want to hang out with, people won’t tire of me and my seemingly endless loneliness. It might even get to the point where someone might offer me a hug, which of course means a lot, but isn’t something I readily ask for.
But when I stop being a window and start being someone who is real flesh-and-blood who crushes on people, finds them attractive…then what? Will people still love me?
The answer from these two guys was a resounding “yes.” And I’m not sure I know how to take a “yes.” I know what it’s like to get a loud “no.” But a yes? Still kind of confused as to how to get on board with that. A great problem to have, no?
So why was I crying? One of the reasons is that I’m emotionally exhausted from the past week. It was a very difficult week in terms of trying to get things done for school. I had a rough week of fighting sin (and the mind is always the loudest battleground, right?) and in the conversation I told folks that sometimes I just want to meet Jesus. I don’t want to send myself there (so nobody panic), but some days I just yearn to see the face of my Savior and hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Maybe this sounds trite to the blog reader…but it’s not a Christian euphemism for me at all. Regardless of the rest of the song, Scripture tells us we will indeed understand it better by and by. We won’t be omniscient, but we’ll be able to see redemptive history in retrospect (at least the period of time we’re currently in) and be able to, with bodies free forever from temptation, worship the risen Christ.
But as for now, I can offer my tears and my actions and my worship with a body which is being redeemed and is, because of Christ, unstained with sin from the perspective of God. My sin has been laid on Christ and His righteousness on me.
So why does it still hurt?
Because we’re in the already-not yet phase of history. But the Gospel is that my redemption is secure, even if temptation still bombards me.
And by God’s grace, when I see his face, I will hate my sin completely and will have what the psalmist prayed for: the fear of the Lord from an undivided heart.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Jeff S. said:
Continue to being a window so your brothers can pray for you and so you can be an agent of change for helping others know how to minister more effectively.
Love ya, bro.
Loneliness! I have wondered that this something that all of us who are single are plagued by? I became acutely aware of it after my husband died and because church culture is oriented towards couples and families rather than singles, it seems to intensify the loneliness. I was astonished at how attitudes changed towards me after I became single. Because I was a fairly young (early 40’s) and attractive, it seemed that suddenly I was suspect of wrongful behavior/intentions with the male population. I had not changed in my behavior, there was no reason to suspect me of bad behavior, and it was painful to be on the receiving end of harsh judgements. I didn’t date, drink, dance, or etc. and had no interest in those things, but I had joined a Christian singles group to make new friends. Unfortunately, married friends tend to drift away once you are no longer part of a couple, so I needed single friends who were available evenings and weekends for companionship. Single friends also seem to be somewhat transient because single people become involved in dating relationships, get married, and relocate with their employment, so this can feel like a kind of an unstable limbo.
At times, like you, I become teary because of people’s kindnesses. I think part of it is my response to my loneliness – my desire to love and be loved – to know and be known – love that is impossible to have apart from marriage. Before I became ill with a chronic illness and was able to socialize, I had several male friends with whom I had wonderful friendships. I loved them dearly, but was not interested in anything else and it was mutual. How cruel people can be because they cannot believe that these kinds of relationships can be innocently platonic. It’s impossible to be friends with a married man because it can be misconstrued as something it is not. Being single definitely has it’s challenges.
I may be incredibly ignorant in this, but I look at the temptations in singleness regarding sex as common to us all. As far as I can tell, the ease of being attracted to the wrong person seems to be common to us all (eg: the person is married, an unbeliever, pornography, etc.). The only way I know to handle it is to cling more tightly to the fact that Christ is my All in all. He knows my estate and loves me with an everlasting love. If it is of any comfort, there are many of us with similar struggles and everyone seems to have different flavors of sexual sin that they are more vulnerable to. I hope my comments make sense?
Hugs – Lily
They do make sense and I appreciate you leaving them. This part really hit me: “I think part of it is my response to my loneliness – my desire to love and be loved – to know and be known – love that is impossible to have apart from marriage.” I would say this is a significant part of what I’m experiencing. But, like you said, sometimes the kindness of others is overwhelming as well. When the two get combined so you can’t separate them, I think you end up with what happened to me in the car yesterday.
Your comments are very encouraging to me. I hope I can encourage you in your walk as well.
Thanks, David. You are a blessed encouragement! And so right about it being hard to untangle the feelings!
Another aspect I would add as part of the loneliness is that I see my longing for the permanence/stability in a marital relationship whereas friendships seem to come and go, and are necessarily different in commitments. I think it must be normal to have these longings because God wired this way (eg: God said it was not good for us to be alone – yet, Paul commends singleness – go figure!)
Talk with you, later, when things calm down for you!