As a widower, the thought of “what now?” is often on my mind. What in the world is my vocation now? What is God calling me to do? Discernment sucks. I have to try to clear out what I want from what God wants for me. I want to be able to say “Thy will be done” without flinching. Saying “May your will be my will” is what I am aiming for, but the emphasis is weighted towards “my will.”
I am not sure if this post is self-indulgent or a reflection on discernment. I think my motive is to help others with the same difficulty. Knowing others have the same struggles can be very helpful. I found this especially true being involved in the Christ Renews His Parish process.
Being sixty and alone was not something I was prepared for. After being married for over 36 years, it is not something you prepare for. So I, of course, feel that lack of companionship leading to loneliness. Sure I keep myself busy and spend my time being involved in my parish, reading, studying, and playing guitar. Have always been one to keep myself amused and not saying “I’m bored.”
So I could easily keep up this state of involvement and amusing myself without second thoughts. I am highly suspicious of this state as I have always been prone to a self-involved life more selfish than giving of self. Introversion has been my excuse for maintaining this state of affairs. So it dramatically annoys me in scripture to see time and time again — God dealing with the excuses his prophets put up against him. I know I am doing the same.
I certainly think about one day being married again. The line that it is not good for man to be alone resonates with me. Anything that is now good about me, was really brought about by my late wife. As a selfish, arrogant jerk, I did so much damage to our relationship — especially the years of my atheistic materialism. I feel our marriage was also rather selfish as far as benefits go. I benefited from knowing her and finally acknowledging and repenting of my many sins. Her part of the bargain was putting up with me. Seems pretty one-sided to me now, although I suspect I am possibly too harsh on myself. I don’t want to paper-over how bad I was.
There is another aspect of marrying again that makes me suspicious. Having grown up on dirty jokes and pornography, I have always tended towards the objectification of women. Something that for most of my life, I did not struggle against this. After my conversion, it just became a struggle I wanted to overcome. There are some aspects that it is only through the grace of God that I overcame. He probably knew I would never overcome this on my own and was given the grace in this regard – something I seriously consider miraculous.
Still, I am hyper-aware of women and find it so easy to objectify them based only on appearance. Some years I have felt that I have received an Easter grace that would mitigate this somewhat for a time. This Easter I have felt this same grace. To fight off that lingering stare. That second or third look to take them in visually. A constant fight indeed, but I don’t want to be that creepy old guy. The only positive thing in this regard is that this level of objectification is not turning to thoughts of lust.
So I am suspicious of my desire for marrying again. I don’t want a one-sided thing where I am a user. I do believe that I am genuinely seeking companionship, and even a corny “walks on the beach”. Someone I can talk to. I don’t fully trust myself that I am escaping my self-absorption and giving of myself. These self doubts certainly make this harder along with being such an introvert does not precisely open up opportunities in this regard.
Plus it could merely be the case where God is calling me to something else that I should be looking for opportunities of self-giving instead.
My current aspirancy as a Discalced Carmelite Secular Order is part of this discernment process. My time daily before the Blessed Sacrament and engaging in contemplative prayer moves me out of my self-orbit and towards supplication and being love at the heart of the Church. My thought processes are usually too abstract; I need this to turn these prayers into concrete acts. So I am now spending more time praying for others, a step in the right direction.