About a year and a half ago, I wrote a similarly-titled article about basically the same subject: what is it like to be a single Christ-following dude? Well, I guess I didn't realize how deep this rabbit hole goes, so here we go, delving again. Here's the other one, in case you want to read it, too: For the Perpetually-Single Christ-Following Dudes in the World
In 2010, I lost a friend when she figured out I had feelings for her. It was one of the worst things I've ever experienced. If you've read much here, you've heard about that by now. I promise: I don't bring it back up in the interest of wallowing or a grudge. I just don't think I've really sorted through everything.
There were things about that experience that I understood. I get the fact that when you get your wires crossed, finding feelings for someone who doesn't share them, it's awkward. What I didn't understand is why someone I cared for, romantic interest aside, pushed me away. In a situation like that, I get needing space, but the severance of a friendship in entirety? Ouch.
It felt like absolute rejection, and in the wake of that (not to blame my decisions on another), I put myself in other relationships I had no business being in. See, when you want to give your heart to someone, the hardest part is putting it back into yourself. You bring out your heart for a reason. Your first instinct isn't usually to stuff it right back where it came from.
Furthermore, it's not a simple matter of stuffing anything anywhere. It's not like putting socks in an overcrowded drawer. Hearts are complex, requiring care, attention, precision. When you pull your heart from your body not only does it take work, but also time, to close it back up.
No, the intention is to keep it out and put it somewhere else. Find someone else who will accept it. But the longer your heart is disconnected from your body, the more of you begins to die. What a conundrum. Caught between the desire to be alive and the desire to not be alone. It's a lot more work to put your heart back in right, but it's even more work to resuscitate the rest of you when you delay recovery.
When you hand your heart over to someone who can do it damage, they will do it damage. It may seem nonsensical, because in order to give your heart to someone you must expose it, but not by necessity to everyone. We're told to guard our hearts. That doesn't mean never letting anyone touch it or join theirs with it, but we have to be careful. The life I've spent trying to be sure I shared it with someone led to me become desperate enough to share it with anyone, even when I knew I shouldn't, or at least had a pretty good guess about it.
As time went on, it became almost like a cry for help: Someone, please take my heart! It seemed logical that if it was the rejection of my heart that damaged me, the acceptance of my heart would be its repair. Doesn't that sound right? Well, it is. I was just wrong about how it needed to happen. I had it wrong long before anyone ever hurt me.
Here's the thing. When I gave my heart over to Jesus in 2009, it wasn't mine to give anymore. That was before any of this began. Before then, the whole thought of finding someone to share my life was still there, but it had no way to happen because I wasn't really very interested in doing it God's way. Afterward, though, my attitudes about everything slowly started to change. When God has His hands on your heart, that's what happens.
With each change, though, came another attack on my life that served to force my singleness into the spotlight, where Christ should be. I would focus on that more than anything else important. It's like I became convinced more and more that this relationship I never seemed able to attain would fix all the other problems I had. Of course, if I thought that, I would have no way to turn to Jesus to work through my problems.
Instead of finding my identity in Christ, I found it in the seemingly never ending desire to be paired with someone. But was it worth losing touch with the one who made me, the only one who can make sense of any of this? No. It's amazing to me how easy it is to base our lives on things and people that have no means to be your foundation. Support? Sure. Passion? Why not. Reason to be? Well, the last time I checked, nobody I've been interested in is my creator, so relying too much on that aspect of my life to carry me has been foolish.
It's funny how in hindsight I can see the work of Satan eroding the foundation of my life through my state of singleness. I suspect he won't stop trying. If he can fix my eyes on something that is made to so clearly model the love God has for us, but make us focus on that instead of God Himself, then he will have successfully altered my trajectory just slightly enough to miss Him completely.
My biggest struggle with the whole thing is that I really don't want to let it go. I don't want to let go of finding someone. I don't want it to distract me from following Christ, either. Is it possible to have both? Is it possible to not feel completely hopeless when dreams fall through and something you wish had been never could be?
Maybe. I wish I had a better answer. I just haven't gotten there yet. I'll let you know when I do.