When I first began exploring the area of Catholic moral teaching that is chastity—not only implementing it, but also internalizing it—I couldn’t get my hands on enough material. I discovered I absolutely loved reading books that deepened my understanding of something so good; that I loved connecting with other young adults to hear their dating stories and to share my testimony with them; that I loved the person that practicing chastity made me. I loved and deeply valued the newfound understanding I’d gleaned of authentic love as a result of studying chastity. I was ready and willing to wait for my future husband’s body.
…Not so much for him, though.
Now that summer’s here, I’ve begun taking frequent drives to the shore, often alone and always with my windows down and music blasting. When I arrive, I spread out my blanket, dig out a book and my rosary, and “spend the day with Jesus” as I’ve come to affectionately think of it. People are always shocked to learn that I go to so many places and take trips on my own—especially to the beach. I go because the more time I spend alone, the more Jesus seems to reveal to me in those solitary and quiet moments. He can only speak so loudly when I’m conversing with someone else.
During my last solitary trip to the beach, Jesus revealed something new to me about chastity, and about my longing for my vocation: chastity not only depends on our willingness to wait for a person’s body, but on our willingness to wait for them, as a whole person. To wait on their presence; to wait on their being when we have no idea where they are, or whether they’ll actually show up one day. For the past three years, I believed I’d learned everything there was to know about chastity, but here God is again, proving me wrong and humbling me with His assertion that there is a more perfect understanding of love as He created it.
I can be a very impatient person, so waiting for my future spouse to show up has proven exceptionally challenging. Since my last long-term relationship ended a few years ago, I unconsciously set a limit on the amount of time I was willing to be single, and when that period drew to a close, I found myself angry and frustrated with God. I began asking Him things like, “What have I not given to you that you still need me to surrender so that I’m worthy of my vocation?” and, “Are you punishing me for sins I confessed so long ago?” and especially, “Have you forgotten me?”
It wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized for the first time that in the midst of my impatience, I’ve been failing to practice true chastity—not in a way that’s sinful or immoral, but in a way where my attitude isn’t conducive to true love. In order for true love to exist, chastity (and patience) must always be practiced between lovers, so who am I to set limits on how long I should have to wait for the one God has planned for me? And who am I to demand anything of God, at all?
Upon coming to this realization, I’ve decided to go on a month-long dating fast. While this might not seem like a long period of time, the point is less to fast from actual dating and more to give my heart wholly and completely to God without secretly wishing I could give all of it to someone else. If you’re struggling with a strong desire for your own vocation, I encourage you to also spend time in prayer, reflecting on what God might actually want for you rather than praying constantly for what you think God owes you. He already knows the desires of your heart, so you don’t have to harp on them each time you pray, because He’s already taking care of it for you.
Chastity is so much more than abstaining from sex, friends. It’s about anticipating the love that God has promised to each of us, whatever our vocation… if only we are willing to wait.
Lindsey Todd is a Master of Arts student at Dartmouth College, and is building her career as a novelist. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, singing, hiking, literature across genres, and exercising. She has a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and a great affinity for St. Joan of Arc and St. Pope John Paul II. Lindsey is passionate about sharing the beauty of chastity with others, particularly as a Catholic writer. Her book about pure dating relationships, Freedom to Love, is available on Amazon and Kindle, and has been endorsed by Jason Evert and Pam Stenzel. Lindsey currently resides in New Hampshire with her Shiba Inu pup, Mazie. You can learn more about her work at www.lindseytodd.net. Check out her book, Freedom to Love, to learn more about God’s design for the authentic love He’s destined for you.”