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Monday, June 8, 2015

Finding A Couple Brothers


[You meet someone new and find him attractive. You wonder if maybe, just maybe, this might be “The One.” You start to look for any sign of affection in their behavior towards you, and become mildly flirtatious in your own behavior. We’ve all been there! There’s no physical contact, no premature declaration of love, nothing obviously inappropriate in your relationship. It’s innocent, right?
Except that you don’t have to let your physical guard down to let your emotional guard down. Without meaning to, you’ve taken the emotional connection to a level that the relationship is not, and may never be, ready for. More often than not this risks distracting you from where God is calling you in life and may damage your friendship with the person in question. Not only that, but when we see each other as merely a romantic potential rather than as people, we actually deprive each other of our dignity as men and women.
The Bible calls us to ‘Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters’ (Hebrews 13:1), because that’s exactly what we are in Christ. Our primary identity is as sons and daughters of God, meaning that we also need to view each other first and foremost as brothers and sisters in His family.....]
The article continues here: First a Brother, Not a Lover

Written a bit ago, yes, but I keep coming back to it as sort of a challenge to myself. Chastity Project is one of my favorite sites, and Ester Rich isn't too bad a writer. In her article, the author emphasizes the importance of understanding and appreciating people as their own, unique individual self, rather than just a potential romantic "other."

Eh… this is great…. and terrible. I struggle with Same Sex Attraction, though I do have Opposite Sex Attraction right along side it. I’m not attracted to men very often, so when I am, I’m delighted! I took joy in the fact that I feel that beautiful pull towards someone of the opposite sex! As I should. But… I don’t know. To leave it at that? To say “oh! He’s attractive…” then shove it from my mind and move on..? The attraction itself isn't a bad thing. And as I am constantly being reminded by my other faithfully catholic, homosexual friends, “attraction isn’t lust."

Now, I know that attraction can be lust, but not necessarily. Besides, I've never even been very skilled at bring friendly and sisterly when I'm not attracted. So why ignore it? I supposed there must be a middle ground. I began to ask myself how I dealt with attraction towards female friends. Not very well, honestly, but I DID both rejoice (because beauty inspires joy in me, always) while re-devoting myself towards sisterliness in my appreciations and efforts. And things always turned out alright. After thinking about it, I decided that maybe this should be my attitude for everyone.

 Let me just say that the first time I read this article I found that I viewed it with no little terror. I longed to love somebody, as many of us do, and I admired and felt drawn towards the Sacrament of Marriage. I don’t form friendships well. I had only a few, dear friends. At the time, not a one of them was a man. Not through any lack of trying, and with all types of guys, whether I am attracted to them or not!  Letting myself grow to the point where I could take that initial burst of hope and set it aside, to let it go and deliberately attempt to build a girl-guy friendship (which I had never succeeded with before) where I present myself as something other than his potential “other”…… was a big step of faith. A summer of work and one semester of school later, and I'm glad I took that step!

I’m not the pretty girl people fall for off the bat. Or even pay attention to. Remotely. People are more likely to decide I’m worthless because I’m young, stupid because I’m removed from pop-culture, bland because I’m often content, lazy because of my ethnic background, air-headed because I’m cheerful, and generally repulsive because I’m overweight. For all my desperateness, I was sure that if, IF I could get anyone to slow down and see me as a simple, ordinary human with likes and dislikes and dreams and failures, they would see the untruth. Once I slowed down myself, they could!

When anything outside of scorn or condescension is rare from any non-family male, be it neighbor or classmate or teacher or boss… its was hard to step back and stop trying to simply please. Yes. I admit it. I knew that boys like to be flirted with, even with unattractive girls. Even today I’m afraid that some will go back to either ignoring me or bullying me like all the others now that I've let that go… and as I say that I know what it means. It doesn't bode well for building any type of relationship, let alone a romantic one. A wife can’t live a life of “please him or be ignored. Please him or be bullied.” And how, if I didn’t let the guy I fell for see me instead of his own ego, would I know not to fear? I answer my own questions, I suppose. But it doesn't mean it wasn’t still a terrifying leap.

This past year I took the first step into being mature (or, at least being more mature than a middle-schooler.) I let myself talk to, hang out with, and work with men the same way I would with women.  I'm not saying I didn't flirt a teeny-tiny bit, or that all of a sudden no guys ignored of bullied me, but I shocked myself and made some genuine male friends. Co-workers respect me because they can see the worker, rather than the flirt, and finally the boys don't seem to mind filling me in on their video game, superhero, sci-fi and comic pop-culture (Hey, gotta start with something!) I even thoroughly enjoy it!

It would be cool to tie my own post in a neat little bow by saying "and that's how I met my soulmate!" But That's just not how it worked out. Though I'm sure younger me might have felt disappointment at hearing this, I don't in the least. I still have that longing for someone special in my life, and the occasions my opposite sex attraction pull me towards someone are still kinda rare, but I now possess an ability to connect that I hadn't before. I can take my time, build a couple extra genuine friendships, and ride out the waiting game. I'm not in a rush! I now have a few new brothers, and love them enough to be content without lovers!

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