Based on the emails I get from you, the myth that attraction is purely physical keeps many of you from having confidence in God’s plan for your vocation. I struggled with this topic over the last couple weeks because I am trying to prove something that is a mystery. Attraction is a mystery. But, I also believe it to be supernatural and not all things that are supernatural are impossible to prove. They are difficult to prove, but not impossible.
The approach I am using to bust this myth includes the profound insights from
Blessed Saint Pope John Paul II regarding human love and sexuality. Here is a little primer on the approach and then I will tie it to my own personal experience.
You Are A Person
“The essential reason for choosing a person must be personal, not merely sexual. Life will determine the value of a choice and the value and true magnitude of love. It is put to the test most severely when the sensual and emotional reactions themselves grow weaker, and sexual values as such lose their effect. Nothing then remains except the value of the person, and the inner truth about the love of those connected comes to light. If their love is a true gift of self, so that they belong to the other, it will not only survive but grow stronger, and sink deeper roots. Whereas if it was never more than a synchronization of sensual and emotional experiences it will lose its raison d’être [reason for existence] and the person involved in it will suddenly find themselves in a vacuum.”
Blessed Saint Pope John Paul II
In very simplistic terms,
Blessed Saint Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body distinguishes between the “gift of self” (chaste marital sexual love) and lust (to use). Chastity is the virtue that fights against lust and allows for the gift of self. The gift of self can only be realized when we understand which “self” we are referring to. The ‘self’ is a person and that person is you. You are the gift.
You, the human person, are both body and soul and this true gift of self requires the integration of your body and your soul. The challenge is to bring these two aspects of yourself together. In addition, you must fight against the forces of darkness which are always at work to build a chasm between your body and your soul. To be holy means to be made “whole” and the integration process, through the power of grace, makes us whole.
As a single girl I did not understand the amount of disharmony there was between my body and my soul. I fell into the trap of emphasizing my body and allowed society (and myself) to distort and disconnect my body from my soul. My guess is that this is happening to you. We are living in a time where the body and the soul are more disconnected than in any other time in history.
But this disconnect and disharmony is nothing new. As a result of the Fall of Man, the relationship between our body and our soul is in constant tension. Because Man revolted against God, the body started to revolt against the soul. Now, the body no longer obeys the dictates of the soul. Our struggle is to find harmony and the only way to do this is through Chastity and a Sacramental life in Christ.
You may be asking, “What does this have to do with my vocation?” Dr. Alice von Hildebrand teaches that marriages are going to pieces and collapsing because, unless there is harmony between our body and our soul, it is almost impossible for us to properly relate to the opposite sex. I believe this to also be true in the dating world. The disharmony is not only leading to divorce, it is causing delayed and missed marriage vocations.
As a single girl, I struggled with common girl issues like body image. I was also in need of girl-type healing. You know, the type of healing associated with a poor understanding of our bodies. I was riddled with negative messages resulting in a negative relationship with food and a poor body image. In other words, I, as a person, was disconnected. And this led me to focus on this aspect of myself. Because I was focusing on my physical body, I was attracting guys who had the same focus. Thankfully, my commitment to Chastity kept me from being used.
I am also ashamed to admit that I was attracted to and attracting very good-looking guys. As it teaches us in Isaiah 6: What you revere, you resemble; you become what you worship. Because I focused on the physical for myself and the guys I dated, my results yielded only the physical. I experienced that vacuum in my relationships that Saint Pope John Paul II refers to above.
Once I started living a Sacramental life and committed whole heartily to Chastity, my body and my soul began to merge. It was undetectable at the time, but looking back, I can see the healing proof. Once I took the focus off of the physical and allowed the Lord to integrate my body and my soul, I was able to love and be loved as a person, body and soul. And, in God’s perfect timing, I met Gregg.
I am not saying that I was merged completely when I met Gregg. In fact, with God’s grace, I am still being merged. But, the process needed to at least start so that I could be loved as a whole person and learn how to love a whole person.
What You Can Do
What I have presented so far is pretty deep stuff so I will stop here. Next week I will tie all this together with Chastity, Superabundance, The Veil and specific advice to help merge your body and soul (posted 2/28/13). In two weeks Gregg will share his perspective on attraction from a guy’s point of view!
In the meantime, please go back and read the above profound and beautiful words by
Blessed Saint Pope John Paul II again. Have you experienced this vacuum in your relationships? Are you allowing too much focus on your body and is this keeping you in bondage? Think about what you are focusing on. What do you revere? You remain in my prayers.
God love and bless you!
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