In my last post, Single, Celibate & Struggling (Part 1), I talked about many of the reasons why I’ve decided to wait until I’m married to have sex. While I am standing firm in my commitment, waiting is no less of a struggle. Even with all of the benefits that come with waiting, I can still come up with just as many reasons why I sometimes feel like throwing in the towel. I have moments where it seems like it would almost be easier to give in than it would be to stay strong. But despite the mental war that I experience from time to time, I know that this is a promise worth keeping. This post isn’t meant to discourage anyone from waiting, but to instead offer support and empathize with anyone who may be struggling. Celibacy isn’t an easy vow to keep and it would be naive to pretend that it is. Because of this, I couldn’t only focus on the good and ignore the hard parts. The struggle is real and worth talking about. I know that if I often feel alone in this, then someone else probably does, too. We need to talk about this more.
There was a day recently that I was having a hard time. Deep in my feelings and I couldn’t understand what was going on with me. I believe there is so much value and wisdom in taking time to analyze our thoughts and emotions, so I was on a mission figure out what was happening with me. Long story short, I discovered that many of the emotions were connected to the insecurities I have surrounding waiting until marriage. In that moment, the words “Single, Celibate, & Struggling” kept flashing through my mind and I was reminded of the verse that had been on my heart all during that week, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. I knew what I had to do – press past the fear and talk about my struggles and insecurities. “For when I am weak, I am strong.”
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
With that being said, one of the hardest part for me is feeling like an outcast. I’m proud of myself for making this sort of decision, but at the same time, I can’t help but feeling “weird”. This is something that has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older because at this point, people younger than me are active and having kids. Meanwhile, I can’t relate. The topic of sex is almost inescapable. Movies, music, social media, friends, etc. It’s everywhere. Our society is saturated with talk about it, and to not be doing it is seen as out of the ordinary. It’s not that I care about how others view my decision, but I think I’m still in the process of becoming more confident in it. I know it’s a good choice, but for whatever reason, I still experience some insecurity.
When my decision to wait does come up in conversation, people don’t intentionally try to make me feel bad, but they will have reactions like “oh that’s good, but it couldn’t be me,” “I don’t know how you do it,” or “life is too short”. I’ve even been referred to as a unicorn. Little do they know, it really is a struggle sometimes – a lonely one at that – and those comments aren’t supportive at all. This is especially hard when I start making the same comments to myself. “Life is short and I’m missing out,” “nobody else is out here living pure, so would it be so bad if I joined them?,” “it’s a basic need, so I shouldn’t restrict myself,” “times have changed since biblical days and people aren’t getting married as young anymore, so do those rules even still apply?”.
Another difficulty has been the lack of role models in this area. I know a few other people who are or have waited, but it’s hard to focus on the few when there are so many more who haven’t waited. I struggle the most when I see people who I know have a strong spiritual life get pregnant before marriage. It’s not that I judge them or think they’re bad, but I think I have this assumption that they’re all waiting, too. Realizing that they aren’t can sometimes cause me to stumble a bit spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. I know that I can’t allow what others are doing to be the standard I base my decisions on, but it does make it more difficult from an accountability standpoint. I have moments where I wish I didn’t have such strong convictions about it and could just do what I want, too, without feeling guilty. I think there is a part of me that almost envy’s people who don’t have those convictions. I know that sex isn’t everything and that there are far more important aspects of a relationship, but I think it’s that phenomenon where you want something more simply because you know you can’t have it. These are all thoughts and emotions that I have to work through personally.
A more extreme example of this was last year when my previous pastor had a baby out of wedlock. I was pretty impacted by his situation. I already struggle with seeing my peers have kids before marriage, so when it was my pastor, it was that much harder. I had been feeling alone in my walk, and then I found out the one person I thought would actually be living this life with me, wasn’t. “If he can love God, lead a church, and still do whatever he wants, then I might as well do it, too, right?” Talk about discouraging. Yes, I know how problematic that entire statement is. He is not the standard, Jesus is. He is still an imperfect human like the rest of us and his decisions are between him and God. Trust me, I had plenty of conversations with myself about this. But the truth is, it was still difficult for me to cope with and those were some of the thoughts I was having. To struggle with something like celibacy and then watch a person who is supposed to be encouraging and guiding you do the very thing you’re trying to refrain from – it was hard. I don’t mean to put pressure on anyone to be perfect and I’m not here to judge. What I am saying is that to feel like you are alone in something and like there isn’t much support definitely makes this walk harder.
A similar yet different challenge is that my baby fever has been real. Seeing people get pregnant and have babies (married or not) can be triggering emotionally some days. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m single, celibate, and feel alone, or if I’m just excited to start my own family, but baby fever is a real experience. The thing about this is that it’s not just “aww, babies are cute and I want one”. It can be more of a longing, accompanied with sadness or jealousy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for all of the new parents and I enjoy seeing pictures and videos of their families, but some days I have to log off of social media to avoid seeing the next pregnancy announcement. I know it isn’t my time and I’m actively working on being totally content in my singleness, but it can be easy to let what others are doing make you feel hurried or like you are missing out.
Then there’s the common fear that no one will ever actually want to wait for me. If a guy can find another nice girl who is putting out, then why wait for me? Of course, I know who I am and I know there is no other like me – I’m uniquely made – but I also know that men (and women) have innate needs. Yes, self-control can be exercised, but even when talking to someone who accepts and respects my decision, I still get nervous that he might change his mind and decide this is too much. It’s also easy to feel like I’m disappointing or frustrating him even if that isn’t the case. It’s another insecurity thing on my part. That’s why I always hope a man would truly understand my decision and not just tolerate it. But if a guy were to walk away because of my vow, I’d respect the fact that he was honest instead of stringing me along while getting it from somewhere else. I would be hurt, but I couldn’t even be mad at him. But even if that did happen, then he wasn’t the one anyway. This is only for the strong.
The last struggle I want to mention is the one of actually not having sex. I put this last because for me, not engaging in the physical act is not nearly as difficult to handle as the spiritual-mental-emotional struggles that I face with waiting. It could be because I’m single which makes it easier to manage, but even so, I believe the physical aspect of it is a different type of challenge. We are all human with desires, but physically holding out doesn’t cause emotional distress like the struggles discussed above do. I’m sure it could cause a bit of tension in a relationship, but hopefully not too much. If so, then there is a different conversation that needs to be had. I’m not saying it’s easy to regulate the desires – because it’s not – but physically speaking, I have control over my body (mostly)… Of course my flesh wants to do what it wants to do. Temptation is real, but we have the power to create boundaries and say yes or no. It can be exhausting trying to fight the flesh, but that’s when we have to sit back and remember the promise.
This is not a comprehensive list of all the struggles that come along with waiting and I imagine many challenges will be unique to the individual. In any case, it is super important to not become consumed with the negative aspects of waiting. There is a difference between acknowledging the struggle and dwelling on it. Most days I feel strong and confident, but I am also aware that I still have a great deal of room for growth in this area. Many of the challenges I face are rooted in insecurity and negative self-talk, so I have to spend time working through that. I believe coming face to face with my struggles will only make it more manageable and eventually I hope to overcome them.
To say waiting is easy would be misleading, but it will be worth it. My goal is to persevere, allow God to do exceedingly and abundantly in my love life, and them come back with a great testimony about His goodness and how He keeps His promises! I’m waiting with expectation and that far outweighs all of the momentary hardships. Whether you have made the commitment and are currently having a hard time, tried to wait but fell short, or are contemplating taking that step, I pray this post has encouraged you and/or strengthened your faith that God can carry you through it.
P.s If you’re feeling like this is too much, please revisit Part 1.