‘And like I can’t force the sun to rise or hasten summer’s start, neither should I rush my way into your heart,’ – Brooke Fraser, ‘Love is Waiting’
Over the past few months, I’ve been obsessively watching talks from the Steubenville Conferences on YouTube. For those of you who don’t know, the Steubenville Conferences are a series of Catholic youth conferences held through the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. They have amazing and faith-filled speakers every summer. Seriously, if you ever need a spiritual pick-me-up, just watch one of their many, many videos.
Two of my favorite flavors of Steubenville talks are the Men’s and Women’s Sessions. As you might expect, these talks focus largely on God’s plan for love and marriage, and as you also might expect, the speakers tailor their message to suit each gender. For the women, the speakers focus on chastity, modesty and body image. The men’s session focuses on chastity, lust and pornography. These aren’t the only subjects they talk about, but they’re themes that I’ve seen across the board.
I now think both talks should be required viewing for both sexes. Why? Because on the most basic level, men and women deal with exactly the same things.
A theme that comes up frequently in the Men’s Sessions is seeing a woman as a beautiful human being to be loved instead of an object of lust to be used. Praise God that that message is getting out there! But I think a similar discussion of lust is missing from most of the Women’s Sessions: how do women fall into the trap of lust, and how can we get out of it?
Sarah Swafford is one of the few Women’s Session speakers I’ve seen talk about how women use men physically and emotionally. Since I saw the video of her 2013 talk a few weeks ago, I’ve noticed how I use guys without even realizing it. Have you ever met a guy for the first time, looked into his eyes, and immediately thought, “Is this the guy I’m supposed to marry?” I have, and I don’t think I’m alone here. Swafford calls it “The Emotocoaster,” where you go from meeting a guy, to mentally planning out your whole relationship, to Facebook-stalking, to texting, to spilling your soul on the phone every night, and on and on. And it repeats for (almost) every guy you meet.
Now of course, this “emotocoaster” looks pretty similar to how many romantic relationships begin. But what’s the difference? Most of the time, when women get on the emotocoaster, we see the object of our affection as just that — an object to be had, a trophy male specimen to be won, instead of a human being with emotions, needs, opinions and desires.
Jason Evert says that, as Catholics, human sexuality is not something we should try to get rid of, but something we should take control of and refine in order to fulfill our true calling for authentic, life-giving love. One naive reason why I wanted to go on this dating fast was because I thought that by not dating, my attraction to guys would go away. I know, sounds backwards, right? It is. But I have been so angry at myself because I still look at guys I know and wonder if they’re “The One.” I haven’t been loving Jesus because I’ve been so focused on not liking guys. My “dare” for Day 2 of the dating fast was to write a love letter to God. I still haven’t written it.
My goal for the next week of the Dating Fast is to focus more on Jesus’ love for me and my love for Him, instead of worrying about not being attracted to men. I know that God put that attraction to men and desire for marriage and love in my heart, and He will realize it in His own time. In order to combat my emotional use of guys in the present moment, I’ve started looking at guys I find attractive and thinking, “I want Heaven for you.” In other words, “I want what’s best for you, even if it doesn’t include me.”
I’ve come up with percentages to keep in mind: 33.3% of the heterosexual guys I meet are called to marriage with a woman that is not me; 33.3% of them are called to a religious vocation; 33.3% of them are called to a single life; .1% are called to marry me.
My math-major roommate has full license to pick apart my hackneyed calculations, but they’ve helped me put things into perspective. I’m going to hold out for that .1%, the one man Jesus has picked out for me, and only me. Until then, I’m going to let Jesus, the only man who can satisfy all the desires of my heart, love me.
Thank you so much for your overwhelming support of my last post. I’m keeping all of you in my prayers this Lenten season.
À la prochaine,