wanted for possession

There was a fairly long period of my life where one thought in particular would almost bring me to tears whenever it crossed my mind. “You know, Jordan, if everyone in the world paired up, nobody would choose you. You’d be all alone. Alone. Alone. Alone. Alone…”

My subconscious was like a tool who had discovered a reverb machine.

It was only recently that I finally discerned what exactly was going on for those two or three years: I was craving exclusivity. In the throes of a crippling fear of a dark and lonely future, I felt, viscerally and relentlessly, that if I just had one person, one person who I knew would choose me above anybody then I would have peace and all would be well. It might also end world poverty! (I was a desperate prayer-bargainer).

This made me a terribly jealous friend. I knew it was bad, I knew I was ruining my ability to be content in my relationships, but I didn’t know how to stop that panicky ache from flaring up.

Wanna know what’s really helpful when trying to combat such bitter anxiety? Reading the Bible. Wanna know what’s really unhelpful? Reading the Bible’s stories about David and Jonathan. Man I hate those guys – all super non-sexually intimate and “you’re love is better than a woman’s” and “our souls are knit together” and stuff. They’re the worst.

I wanted that, and I let my journal know just how upsetting it was not to have it on a regular basis. But what did I really want? Well, I’ll you what I wanted, what I really, really wanted[1]: to have that one person into whom I could wholly pour myself, who meant everything to me and returned those feelings. It didn’t have to be sexual, it just needed to be a certain degree of exclusive.

Oh, the twisted siren song of that word, tempting me to passionately wreck myself upon the rocks in pursuit of an unattainable phantasm of desire. It almost had me.

I had come to grips with giving up the exclusivity of marriage, but somehow the lie that I needed another person to “complete me,” so to speak, continued to ring powerfully in my ears. But exclusivity is not the end-goal of sexuality. Granted, in marriage there is a sexual exclusivity, but sex is not the totality of sexuality.

Sexuality is never about possessing someone. Never. It is, rather, all about giving yourself to another. And not just one other. We serve a Christ who has literally given himself entirely for the sake of everyone.

The searing myopia that was causing me such pain only began to fade as I slowly gave up on my quest to find the “perfect someone” who could provide me with that life-giving friendship and opened myself up to God’s call to serve others. My desire to give myself to someone was a good desire – but it was far too singular. How arrogant and vain was I to judge others unworthy of my time, my service, my love, and my friendship? Jesus doesn’t play hard to get, and neither should I.

Once I began opening up to people, abandoning my desperate quest for exclusivity, the loneliness, the anxiety, and the fear began to dissipate like an unwelcome morning haze. It was only when I stopped trying to possess my friends that I actually felt secure in my friendships. And on top of that I was finding increasing joy in my interactions with almost everyone because I was persistently asking myself how I could be used to bless them, to communicate to them their immense worth before God. I need to be careful not to over-do it, as always, being sure to pace myself so I don’t bleed out on the altar of self-giving. But thus far it has only been a fantastic turn of events in my life.

This is what sexuality, properly oriented, is designed to do – it draws us to others so that we might display to them the love of God and receive from them the same.

Do I still read the story of David and Jonathan with a twinge of longing? Absolutely. But God has given me a taste of something sweeter. I am rarely more like Christ than when I am casting off the shackles of an exclusive, possessive love and offering myself so that another may know life more abundantly. I have a lot left to learn about what it really looks like to live this way, but these are some of my initial thoughts. Feel free to fill them out.

Peace,

Jordan

P.S. All the major hurdles that arose when I initially came out to my family have been cleared, praise God. Praise God, praise God, praise God. Mom, who was having the hardest time of it, came up to me today and told me God had given her peace about it and had confirmed to her that I was living rightly before him, doing what he had called me to do. It blew both of our minds. Thanks for your prayers, it is truly a humbling thing to be so blessed.


[1] I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really really really wanna zigazig, ha! (Betcha weren’t expecting me to quote the Spice Girls. Please don’t leave me.)

 

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10 thoughts on “wanted for possession

  1. With the minor difference that I’m not attracted to men, I can wholly relate to your longing for exclusivity and the struggle that comes when it’s not there. Thank you for the practical wisdom!

  2. This is a really great post, though I have to confess I’m still a little unsettled by your broadening of the meaning of sexuality. I know in another post you explain why you think sexuality means more than just sex. The reason I find this difficult to accept is this: how do you know where “sexuality” ends and something else, like love or friendship, begins, let alone when to use one term over the other??
    I’ll put it this way: what are your reasons for NOT interpreting the Jonathan/David (or even Jesus/John) relationships as sexual, as some revisionist theologians do? Given th broadening of the term sexuality, it’s hard to find a principled way to distance one’s self from the crowd that reads sexuality into everything.
    Maybe it’s really only a matter of semantics. Maybe not.
    That said, I think this post is really insightful. I don’t thank God very often for the friends I do have, but God get’s an earful from me for the friends I don’t have.

  3. My ability to relate to this post is seemingly endless. Amen, amen, amen. It is so freeing when you stop looking for that one person and allow your life to be shared with several friends. I still do catch myself longing for that exclusivity with someone but nowhere close to what it once was. Good stuff!

  4. Great post. I love you and appreciate you endlessly, and I think I already suggested this to you, but especially after reading this post, if you want to be inspired and get a seriously contagious taste of what a life lived to love others looks like, read the book Love Does by Bob Goff. It basically just blew my mind and will restructure the way I approach life and love. As my grandma used to say when she couldn’t be near someone she loved, consider yourself hugged:)

  5. “My subconscious was like a tool who had discovered a reverb machine.” LMAO!!! I loved that!

    On a different note though, your post was a “light bulb” moment for me. I could never quite put my finger on why I was so possessive of the friends I had! Thanks for the insight!

  6. I hear you. I’ve recently come to grips with the realisation that all my life has been consumed with that longing for exclusivity, for that one relationship that would heal me, complete me, make me happy. And you know what? It’s a lie, really. I’ve wrecked the exclusive relationships I have had, or ones that I wanted to be exclusive, through that consuming demand that one other person be to me what only God can be. (Psychologists call it “codependency”, and that’s a whole area of discussion, but what an eye-opener that was). I’ve slowly come to the realisation that I need to be, and CAN be, a whole, healthy, happy, complete person ON MY OWN, with God, and that from that place, and only from that place, can I enter into and sustain a healthy relationship with someone out of choice, not out of need. That consuming obsession with someone, that desire to feed on their essence and suck the life out of them, really only ends up destroying both of you and the relationship. Been there, done that. Thank God I’m free and know what to look out for and how not to get sucked into that again.

  7. This is an excellent post! It’s so important for us to start thinking towards singleness, and what you have written resonates very deeply with my own experience of concern for exclusivity.

  8. Man, oh man. I’ve recently (well, currently) been in the middle of this exact desire. Perhaps this gives me a place to start from. I’ve got a lot to ponder this weekend.

  9. I think you make a lot of good points. Obviously, there can be a possessiveness in the desire for “exclusivity” that is spiritually ruinous. As you say, in marriage there is sexual exclusivity, but it’s not like the couple then cuts themselves off in all OTHER ways from all other people.

    However, let’s also be realistic. “Exclusivity” is one thing. But “priority” is another. We all only have a certain number of hours in the day to commit to people, and (especially as more and more friends get married) so many friends to call upon in a given situation either for help, or just for company. And the way humans are, we tend to start to RELY on, to count on, certain people to be there for us (and on us being there for them.)

    I suppose it is certainly possible for a small group of, say, four to five single friends to all sort of constantly spend time with each other in various combinations. But I also imagine the logistics of that would get very complicated very fast. What if two people want or need you at the same time, or for the same purpose? Eventually you prioritize someone.

    Which is what I think I mean by “priority” vs. “exclusivity.” I don’t think I or anyone else needs someone who is “exclusively” theirs, as if we need them constantly and they can’t have any relationships outside us. But in communion, there will always be primacy. It’s the nature of particularity. And I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with wanting to be primary to someone, wanting to prioritize someone. Someone who doesn’t, indeed, get ALL your time. But who gets the plurality (even if that plurality is not a majority). It’s inevitable. Someone will wind up being the one you spend more time with than anyone else (at least technically; you might be able to divide it up with a sort of rough equality). Someone will be MOST intimate, someone will be preeminent in their emotional importance to you.

    I suppose someone of heroic sanctity can just sort of live without reciprocation and accept that there is someone who is most important to them for whom they are not most important. Who takes priority in your interactions but for whom you do not take priority in theirs. But I don’t think there’s anything WRONG with desiring that it be mutual. It just makes things a lot SIMPLER to know that there is someone you can always count on to be there for each other, whom you “tell everything” (without having to start at square one again each time), who gets the plurality of your time together, whom you prioritize each other as regards your obligations to people. “The buddy system” just makes sense.

    Exclusivity, no. But priority, primacy, plurality??? I’m much more inclined to view those potentially positively.

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