As a single, celibate man it’s more than likely I won’t have the typical American marriage with 2.5 children. So in regards to this situation, what can family, intimacy and community look like for me? Oh and btw, what do I do with my longings, emotional needs and sexual desires?
Much luv-Your son,
Scott E. Kingry
Grief, Sexuality and a Way Forward
In my last two blogs (here & here) I shared a growing awareness of grief that surrounds my sexuality—past and future. I talked about the grief in my past. Sadness remains over many unmet needs which led to seeking love in all the wrong places and it’s lingering consequences. Staring into the future can also feel rather bleak. There seems no place for sexual intimacy, pleasure and the emotional satisfaction of sharing life with someone. I hope I’m not silly enough (anymore) to believe that marriage is a 365 day romantic-love-fest all the time. Underneath this Hallmark Channel illusion feels like a loss of something we’re created for and foundationally human. Still, guess who else missed out on the experience of sexual pleasure and fulfillment—yep, Jesus. Ponder that Scott.
Speaking of loss, life in Covidland didn’t help matters either. The Coronavirus systematically shut all my haunts for connection down. No more drinks with friends, movies or game nights. Quarantining alone meant chatting with folks in small boxes littered on a screen. Connection suddenly became a hot commodity and grief spiraled globally, It was a rough, but clarifying time and I hope to take the lessons learned in quarantine forward into this next chapter. I’m also absolutely exhausted by this grieving season and so ready to move forward, but questions persist. I’ve put my question-prayers into the nice succinct letter above to our gracious Father. Here we go!
There Really is No Place Like Home, Dorothy
One of my favorite things to do “Pre-Covidland” was to take full advantage of a good ol’ fashioned blizzard. I LOVE staying in my pj’s all day and simply puttering around and never leaving my small 440 square foot studio condo. I say “good ol’ fashioned blizzard” because it gives it more credence than say, on a warm 80 degree summer day. Which I would still stay in, but your friends look at you like you’re a crazy person and missing the last warm day there will ever be. Well, it’s all well and good for a day or two during a legitimate blizzard, but in a quarantine for weeks? How much simply puttering can a person do every day in a small 440 square foot studio condo?
Shockingly, I didn’t mind the weeks of it as I thought I would. Though I really really really missed seeing folks face to face, I found out I really (x3) love my home and living alone. There are many times I look around this diminutive space and a smile spreads across my face. It’s OCD tidy and no one else is tortured by having to live up to that standard (thank God). Most objects in my home are connected to people I love. I remember “that was given to me by so and so and the shopping trip with so and so when I got bought this”. The cozy size just suits me. What a revelation to have clarified that which only a pandemic could provide. But wait?—doesn’t this somewhat affect your need for family, intimacy and community? Yes. It does.
The “Now What”…
Ok, so you’re wild about your home and living alone. Now what’s in store for your future and your question-prayers and nice succinct letter to God? I believe He is saying something to the effect, “Son, why don’t you use that creativity I created in you.” Oh yeah, that.
Is your family your family?—The Goo Goo Goliath story
There’s a hilarious Looney Toons cartoon from 1954 called “Goo Goo Goliath”. At the beginning we find a drunk stork who’s been celebrating his last baby delivery with too much champagne. While still intoxicated, his next bundle-of-joy delivery is a bit too heavy for him. Pooped, he ends up dropping it off at the nearest mid-century suburban home. The problem? The baby was destined for the home of giant parents. The next funny scenes are of the poor regular sized parents bathing the baby in the swimming pool and being smashed trying to teach him to walk. Have you ever felt sometimes like you were delivered to the wrong home?
I often wondered. So my family was a nice middle class, football loving, camping and fishing type family. Were my real parents actually living in Manhattan on the Upper East Side? Traveling all over Europe and visiting galleries and art museums? I was sure the drunk stork brought me to the wrong place. There were decades of friction because I just never quite fit in my family.. But God has been SO gracious in healing my family over the years, and I’ve never felt closer to them. It’s encouraging to believe no matter how awkward you feel with your own flesh and blood, God can forge new relationships and forgiveness—Is your family your family?
Is the church your family?—Hey Jesus said it
It’s not often that you picture Jesus’ mother Mary being possibly annoyed with her son, but this story comes close. Jesus is speaking while his mom and brothers are waiting to talk to Him. Finally someone says, “Hey Jesus your mom and brothers would like a word with you.” His response is kind of startling. “Who are my brothers and who is my mother?” Then He points to the room of disciples and declares all who do His Father’s will are his family. Ouch!—sorry Mary. I don’t think that would sit well with any mom.
Oh, so couples and families are not entities unto themselves? Does Jim Dobson know this? The Old Testament is literally filled to the brim with families. In the New Testament we hear very little about any family in particular (except the family of Jesus and even He’s redefining). By the time we get to Acts, it would seem we are baptized into a new and bigger family, being together, eating together and sharing everything. Our new family—the Family of God. Does your church feel like family?
Cultivating family, community and intimacy-don’t bury it in a hole
Psalm 68:4-6 says our God is a “Father to the fatherless” and “sets the lonely in families” and I’m grateful. I experienced this reality during the years of disconnection from my own family. But relationships and community don’t magically happen—cultivating them takes a lot of work, investment and intentionality. And time, which in our fast food, microwave everything world is bad news. So thinking creatively, what could our investments look like?
There’s a continuum of community living from easy and casual to highly structured—what fits you? Is it simply roommates like those wacky Golden Girls? Or could you add some intention like meals together during the week? You might not even live in the same household but live near other families and share life together. Perhaps it’s just gathering a small group of friends together weekly sharing a meal or a book study. Of course, you can move down the continuum to more structure if it suits you. My joke was my retirement would be the nearest monastic community. Probably not anymore since brown isn’t my color, but there is something very appealing in sharing life, work and prayer in a highly committed, surrendered way.
Family can look a lot of different ways for us singletons on a continuum, also. There are fostering and adoption opportunities. On the less side of the scale you can be a mentor to a young person like through Save Our Youth or Big Brothers/Sisters. None of these opportunities for intimacy necessitate a marriage. There’s a whole creative range of ways to intentionally cultivate family and community. Relationship is about investment—so don’t bury your talent in a hole as Jesus warns
The Finish with a Flourish
Yes. That is the point—to flourish no matter what relational status you find yourself. To thrive and not simply survive. This series started with an acknowledgement and need to create space to grieve several legitimate hurts and unmet needs within our sexuality. It’s wound its way through a pandemic, isolation and into whatever this world looks like post quarantine with new lessons learned. And what about my question prayers and nice succinct letter to God? It seems these questions are a way forward out of grief. Jesus, the creator of our sexuality never experienced the emotional or physical pleasure of sex. He lived as a single celibate person and creatively furnished love, intimacy and community around Himself and others. Whether in the home I currently love or finding a new situation, I have lots of creative solutions before me. We hope WGA can be that home and family type community for those in which we care.
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