When Waiting is Really Hard

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love gives lust takes

In reaction to the increasing physical immorality spreading through society today, and in an attempt to counter the message  constantly being sold through advertising, movies, music, and even best-selling books that says sexual intimacy is not only okay, but expected, outside of marriage, the Catholic online world has been buzzing with all sorts of articles on how to stay pure.  Each week it seems Jason Evert’s online blog for young adults comes out with a new list of suggestions for how to become pure, remain pure, return to purity, or increase in purity.  And while this is an incredibly important message, it can be a little discouraging when you prioritize purity as a couple, but still find it very hard to do so—not because you’re tempted to break the rules, but because saying no to what feels good and natural is hard.

For couples who have been dating long enough to be past the “he’s perfect, she’s perfect, we’re perfect for each other and neither of us can find fault in the other” phase, the struggle to remain pure becomes hard on a whole new level when you reach an understanding that comes with trusting each other with more of yourselves.  While physical attraction tends to be an initiator of relationships, and the main facet in them in the beginning (which is perfectly acceptable, as long as there is a desire to know the person better individually, and not just use them for their appearance), the temptations to take things too far tend to center around the “newness” of it all.  You’re both excited to be discovering each other, you’re not serious enough yet to be having intimate conversations or discussing deep mutual feelings, and simply touching each other sends electric sparks through the air.  During this phase, purity is hard because it puts a limit on how many new things can be experienced, but it is also the beautiful restraint which forces the couple to look beyond the physical attraction and truly learn to love each other’s hearts and souls.

But after the two of you have your first fight, endure hardship together, and start to learn all the “perfections and imperfections” (to use a beautiful phrase from Inception) that make your partner who he/she is, you start to form a deeper bond with him/her.  The deeper it goes, the more intimately you begin to know each other, and the more you desire simple affections, quiet moments, and complete closeness.  Your hearts start to feel so intertwined, you become so familiar with the quirks and little things about the other one that make them so unique, and you start to share things together more exclusively.  And as this emotional nearness increases, the longing to physically be as close as possible to the other person, to physically become close to them in the way you are becoming emotionally close, can often be even stronger and harder to resist than the initial, flirtatious, excited temptations.

When your longing to take the next step in the physical area of the relationship is based on a desire to complete the feelings of unity that the two of you have been building, when it comes from an almost spiritual yearning rather than just base attraction, it becomes easy to justify the temptation in your mind.  It’s easy to think “I’m not lusting after them, I just want to be close to them”; while this is a beautiful desire, outside of marriage it is a very persuading argument for impurity.  When thoughts like that take over the mind, not only does it become harder to say “no” when you both feel so united, but it also becomes harder to keep your thoughts pure—because when you’re thinking like an engaged couple, but not actually engaged, your mind starts dreaming of and preparing for things upon which it is not yet appropriate to dwell.

This is a very personal topic, and it is easy to feel alone in this struggle when so many articles and talks about purity make it seem like if you’re following the rules, everything should just be easy.  For those out there dating, trying to do so in a holy, pure, Catholic way, but still finding it incredibly hard nonetheless, do not be discouraged.   As paradoxical as it may sound, a date cut short because temptation was particularly intense is more rewarding than a date that went too far.  When you both look at each other at the end of the night, hold hands, exchange chaste kisses on cheeks, and know that you both want so much more but are offering it up for the sake of pleasing God before yourselves, then kneel before your separate beds to pray, being able to say to God “We took care of each other, Lord.  I put his/her soul before my own desires tonight, so I could take care of him/her for You.  Please see the sacrifice and give us grace instead.  Bless her/him, who I miss so much already, and thank you for the gift of true love stronger than lust”, nothing is more rewarding.  And should God join the two of you together “until Death do you part” one day in the future, the reward will be tenfold when you can pull each other close and come together as husband and wife, giving each other the gift of yourselves so carefully preserved, and showered with grace as you unite both body and soul.  So do not feel guilty or alone when your God-centered relationship still hurts sometimes when yearnings cannot be satisfied: purity is extremely hard, but it is so worth the wait.

St. Joseph, Most Chaste Spouse of Mary, pray for us!

Abigail C. Reimel

Abigail C. Reimel

Abigail C. Reimel is a budding Catholic author in love with her faith. Though her more immediate dreams include successfully completing college and securing an editing position, she ultimately hopes to live in a little beach house with her future family while writing books that present "the good, the true, and the beautiful" to the young adult generation in an exciting way. She has been published in the St. Austin Review and hopes to be published many more times in the future. She adores living by the ocean, but traded salty winds for mountain air to attend Christendom College, where she is majoring in English.

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6 thoughts on “When Waiting is Really Hard”

  1. Avatar

    Thanks for sharing. I think too often we only hear the “sunny” side of chastity and it’s important to remember that it is difficult – but definitely worth it!

  2. Avatar

    Very reality oriented and poignant. Good and true writing. You’ll be an asset if you stay just that way.
    I’ll give you a dogmatic riddle about sexual sin. Aquinas said that the old death penalties for sins like adultery were now void after Christ and he’s correct. But Christ said not one jot or tittle of the Law would end until heaven and earth passed away. Aquinas answered that yes…both are true. Christians don’t stone adulterers but those old laws perdure in this sense…those death penalties teach us which sins are mortal so in that intellectual sense, those old laws perdure until the end of time by teaching us which sins kill the soul’s grace. Problem? Yes, there’s a problem. The Old Law sent by God did not stone the premarital sex couple but punished them with something good that ordinary Jews didn’t have…a Catholic marriage in the sense of no divorce:

    Deuteronomy 22:
    28 ” a man find a damsel that is a virgin, who is not espoused, and taking her, lie with her, and the matter come to judgment : 29He that lay with her shall give to the father of the maid fifty sides of silver, and shall have her to wife, because he hath humbled her: he may not put her away all the days of his life.” Douay Rheims Catholic Bible.

    I think Aquinas missed that passage. How he would solve it without resorting to the over simplistic as he did on the problem of lying….is anyone’s guess. Christ told the Canaanite woman that He had only come for the lost sheep of the house of Israel…but He said that after already helping the centurion’s servant and prior to helping a Samaritan leper. Did Christ fib to the Canaanite woman? Riddles need not be solved. They are there in scripture to keep us from becoming simplistic judges.

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    This is great, plus, chaste waiting may be needed once married, especially pertaining to times of abstinence say, when spacing babies with natural family planning. The online book, “Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach,” also addresses ‘temptations’ including feeling sorry for oneself. Attitudes are very important plus a relationship between modesty and chastity are also touched upon. The book is at NFP International, http://www.nfpandmore.org/ We found the materials very useful over 25 years!

  5. Avatar

    Purity is the only way to wait because the reason why you are kept waiting is because God is constantly preparing your partner until the event or point of time He has chosen in the future to reveal the one meant for you, and when that day comes, the Holy Spirit will reveal in your heart and signal to you that that person is the one meant for you. So trust in the Lord for His ways cannot be conceived by the human mind and the partner He has chosen for you will be the perfect one in the spiritual world.

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