Last week’s post asked the question, “Does God ‘take away’ our desires?” and in it I shared that God, instead of taking away our desires, wants to put our desires in proper order. In response to that post, Amy provided this comment:
“Cindy, what does a having a healthy and ordered desire for marriage feel like? Sometimes I struggle with despair and don’t know if those feelings are disordered or if it’s just my God-given desire for marital union. When do you think that natural desire turns disorderly? Thanks!”
“…what does a having a healthy and ordered desire for marriage feel like?
Unfortunately Amy, I don’t really know. Prior to being married, my desire for marriage went through several stages. First it felt unruly. Then, it felt disordered. Then, I felt numb.
Stages of Healing
Initially, my desire for marriage was unruly. It was disruptive, wayward, intractable, recalcitrant and any other adjective you can think of. For some, this unruliness can manifest itself in unhealthy outward actions. But for me, I turned it inward on myself.
Once I returned to a Sacramental life of grace, things got better. But, only to a point. I still felt disordered. I was still preoccupied with being united with my husband and wondering if it was ever going to happen. I still suffered judgment and ridicule from others for not being married and my heart was in constant pain. Hot tears that sting your eyes and lump-in-throat kind of pain. But, I was not acting out nor was I turning inward against myself.
Then, I went through a final stage where I felt numb. I compare it to the anesthesia I had during my C-section. I could see all the activity going on around me but I could not feel any pain. I was still somewhat preoccupied with my desire for marriage but I was not in pain. Looking back, this was an extraordinary gift of grace.
“…I struggle with despair…”
Amy, you mentioned that you feel despair at times. Despair is the complete absence of Hope. I never felt true despair and I wonder if you have truly experienced it. My guess is that what you are experiencing is doubt. I felt that. I always had Hope, but, I did doubt that I would ever get married.
Feelings Are Not The Problem
“…and don’t know if those feelings are disordered or if it’s just my God-given desire for marital union…”
Your desire for marriage will result in various intense feelings. But, the feelings are not the problem. The problem is what you do with the feelings. Do you curse God? Do you avoid Him in worship? Do you regularly lash out at others in anger? Do you live a life of promiscuity? Are certain areas of your life obsessive or compulsive? This is when you know your desire is disordered.
Your hunger for marriage could be likened to your hunger for food. Both are natural, God-given feelings/desires and neither are wrong. But, an extended time of fasting will take its toll on you as will a life of extended singleness.
What you are feeling and experiencing is completely natural and understandable. The healing processes teaches us what to do with these natural feelings.
“When do you think that natural desire turns disorderly”
Again, desires become disordered when we act out our feelings in a way that leads us away from God. But we can always turn back towards Him.
Note that in my experience, the process went in a positive direction…towards healing rather than towards disorder. I healed over time as I grew closer to the Lord in obedience.
Did God take away my desire? No. But, He did draw me closer to Him and over time as I drew near to Him, something happened.
I made a decision to walk with the Lord. He is the answer to the peace I needed. It seemed obvious to me that my obedience was required. So, I prayed and worshiped Him at Mass. I went to Confession regularly. I read books about the faith. I taught CCD. I sang songs of praise. I started jogging. I surrounded myself with marvelous comrades. The Lord became my portion and my cup. I claimed Him for my prize. I gave myself to Him.
My mind healed as I read His word in Sacred Scripture. To this day, I favor the Old Testament because I know what it is like to walk in the desert. I relate well to Job and Isaiah. The book of Deuteronomy and the Psalms spoke to me daily and guarded my heart and mind.
“Lord, listen to my prayer; turn your ear to my appeal. You are faithful, you are just; give answer. Do not call your servant to judgment, for no one is just in your sight. The enemy pursues my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead, long forgotten. Therefore my spirit fails; my heart is numb within me. I remember the days that are past: I ponder all your works. I muse on what your hand has wrought and to you I stretch out my hands. Like a parched land my soul thirsts for you. Lord, make haste and answer; for my spirit fails within me. Do not hide your face lest I become like those in the grave. In the morning let me know your love, for I put my trust in you. Make me know the way I should walk: to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me, Lord, from my enemies; I have fled to you for refuge. Teach me to do your will for you, O Lord, are my God. Let your good spirit guide me in ways that are level and smooth. For your name’s sake, Lord, save my life; in your justice save my soul from distress.” Psalm 143, 1-11
I am wondering, dear Amy, if you are going through the same process? It may feel like this time of singleness is leading you towards more disorder. But, if you are walking with the Lord, and I do believe you are, then I believe that your desires are being ordered by Him through this process. Trust in the process. Trust in His timing. Trust in the Lord.
If anyone is struggling, please feel free to write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
God love and bless you!
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