You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him who I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England. I did not then see what is not the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape. The words compelle intrare, compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.
– C.S. Lewis, “Surprised By Joy”
I had a long-ish chat with a guy tonight from Texas from that same site. Another nice guy, this one Catholic, and again, not my type. Nor is he looking for romantic partnership at this point in his life. But it puts in me this fear that there aren’t any non-effeminate Christian guys out there who aren’t already taken; who value intellect as much as I do; who are comfortable with their sexuality and see it as compatible with their faith; and know where they’re going in life (i.e., have it mostly together) and are interested in someone to truly share a life with.
I’m just feeling like I’m never going to find what I’m looking for. I don’t want to be 35, single, dating, knocking on doors and either getting turned down or not finding what it is that I’m looking for, and I’m feeling so down and discouraged right now. I want to either not care and ditch my morals, or somehow develop fortitude and wait. Neither is making me happy at this point.
I want a Joy (C.S. Lewis’ wife), a man who understands me, and who I understand; who gets how I think, and doesn’t just tolerate me; someone who can make me, like he said of Joy, look like a fool, because he’s smart and calls me on the stupid shit that I say and do.
Here it is: I’m afraid there isn’t anyone good enough for me. That’s an incredibly haughty and arrogant thing to say because implicit in that statement is the idea that I’m all that great of a catch. But I’m afraid there isn’t anyone masculine enough, intelligent enough, or interesting enough. My date last night could barely hold a conversation about C.S. Lewis outside of the first three books of the Chronicles of Narnia, let alone his other books (including the non-fiction stuff).
I feel conflicted about that because I fear this image of l’homme idéal will get in the way of any future possible relationships. Is it so much to ask that he’s well-read, well-spoken, attractive, has a wide variety of interests, and most importantly loves God and can articulate his faith? I’m just afraid I’ll never find anyone like that before I’m thirty, and damn it, I can’t take another year of being alone. I just can’t. I’m going to end up an awful, alcoholic mess of a jaded bastard, and it seems unavoidable at this point. My standards are set so insanely high that there seems to be no one else. I’m trying so hard not to extrapolate the whole population of gay men from a single piece of fairy cake, but it just seems hopeless.
So why am I still single? Yes, I haven’t been dating all that long, but I seem to want that which does not exist. I want a Christian gay man who has not been beaten down by Christians or his own doubt and fear and has a faith that is thriving; doesn’t come with baggage that weighs him down or defines him; and basically appears as a normal guy to the outside world, like myself. Perhaps that comes back to the desire for someone to just understand and relate to me; because I feel like no one does.
Herein lies the paradox. John Donne would revel in it. I would revel in it, if he wrote a poem about it; of the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against me finding anyone who is even remotely compatible for me.
Oh little self that walls itself within
This cage of thine own making and despair,
Resign thyself to vigor or forbear
For thou art not of ilk to bend to sin.
The bars of thy design hath been, yet bear
The imprint of Divine conspiracy
That deigns for good and ever seeks to spare
The heart from useless ill, and courtesy
Of that degree we seldom show or see
From fellow man, for he can only will
Our happiness or pleasure. Oh! to be
A beast that finds contentment in its fill!
By condescending mercy am I mired,
And standards unattainable conspired.
It’s not quite Donne, but it’ll do.
W.C. Fields observed that “comedy is tragedy happening to someone else.”