So what’s the smartest path to peace?
I think the best answer I’ve found to this is summed up rather nicely in a book that I think everyone should read, Jacques Phlippe’s Interior Freedom:
The exercise of freedom as a choice among options, plainly is important. However, to avoid making painful mistakes we also need to understand that there is another way of exercising freedom: less immediately exciting, poorer, humbler, but much more common, and one immensely fruitful, both humanly and spiritually. It is consenting to what we did not originally choose.
This has helped me immensely when I think about the single life, and think about the loneliness I’ve felt at times in my life.
Though I hadn’t planned to write about this today, it came to mind when I was reading some comments at an article online, where I read this from a well meaning and compassionate soul:
Just to point out the mistake that conservatives always make in this type of patronizing post: if you are straight and single, you always have the hope and possibility of getting married. If you are gay, single, and faithful to the Church’s teachings, you don’t. There is a fundamental difference. Let’s just acknowledge it and move on: it doesn’t really change anything theologically. It just makes you sound less like an asshole.
A fellow whose thoughts on all of this I value quite a bit, who goes by the avatar “Daniel P” wrote this in response:
It’s not clear, however, which is worse: having the possibility of marrying, but no one willing to marry you; or having no possibility of marrying.
This is exactly how I view the subject, and the way I’ve chosen to view the subject, for my own peace and sanity.
I have a choice, and it seems to me that I have made the smartest choice out of a healthy self-interest. I’ve chosen to view my life as easier, because I don’t live in the constant hope or expectation of getting married. I’ve chosen the path that leads to more peace: the fact that I’m primarily attracted to men, means that I know that I’m going to be living a single life the rest of my life.
Which makes it a heck of a lot easier to deal with.
Now, I could wallow about in the misery of dreary self-pity, constantly saying, like the well-meaning Tony did: “My life is harder, because all of my single friends who want to get married to the opposite sex at least have the hope that they’ll get married.” There were certainly many, many times when I felt that way. And for me, since I do have attraction to women, for a long time I kept clinging to this, and I’d ask out any woman who I found remotely attractive, with the hope that I’d finally find the one who could be my soul mate.
After awhile, nothing came of it, and so I said, “I’m done looking.” Four years ago, I consciously consented to the single life, something I never would have chosen on my own.
Life got a heck of a lot better.
At this point in my life, why would I focus on “all of my other friends at least have the hope of marrying,” when all it will do is lead me away from peace, and interior freedom? That seems nuts to me.
Here’s another choice: I can either say that God has forgotten me, or I can choose to say that God loves me enough to reveal His plan for my life.
For a long time, I chose the former. Now, I choose the latter.
Here’s what I mean, and why I think my life is actually easier than all of my friends who still hope to be married to the perfect spouse. They are constantly living with a question mark before themselves: will it ever be God’s will that I be married? They’re always looking, they’re always hoping the next social gathering will be the place where they’ll meet Mr. Right, or Mrs. Right.
I don’t have that weight on my shoulders now. I don’t live with that question hanging over my head: what is my vocation? I’ve chosen to believe that God has graced me with the clarity of what that vocation will be: he wants me to live a single life. Now, I could mope about, sad that I don’t have the hope that my other friends have, but I choose to see it as a gift.
It would drive me crazy to think otherwise, and make me constantly depressed–as it once did.
Remember the story of United Flight 93 from 9-11? I’ve always been inspired by those brave souls.
They realized what was going on–they knew that hijackers had crashed the two planes into the World Trade Center, and they realized they had to do something to stop another tragedy that day.
They bravely consented to that which they wouldn’t have originally chosen.
The last words anyone heard from that flight were Todd Beamer’s final, triumphant and courageous words: “Let’s roll.”
We have two choices when confronted with those things which we wouldn’t have chosen. We can bemoan what “could have been,” or bemoan what hope others have, but that’s not helpful, or realistic. All we have is our life, and the only control we really have over what happens in our life is how we choose to respond.
I refuse to give up that freedom.
I think the best thing to say when confronted with unwanted same sex attraction is what Todd Beamer said.
And then choose to live life, to the fullest, with the peace that comes from consenting to that which we would never have originally chosen.
Want to be inspired? Watch this about Todd Beamer and the other heroes on United Flight 93.