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Give It a Try

There was a common response when I told people that my housemate Brian and I were moving in together. Give it a try. See how it feels to you. I knew then that my response to the suggestions needed to be firm, not for the sake of those making comments but for myself.

My response was and still is that this cannot be something I do based on my feelings; this cannot be something that I try out. There has to be a commitment based not on my feelings but on whether or not this is my calling, and I am sure it is, at least in the near term. 

Living with another person is difficult after living alone for 21 years, as I have done, especially when you’ve developed selfish habits and live in a self- and feelings-focused culture. 

In our culture today, almost everything comes down to how you feel. Do you feel called to the priesthood? Do you feel called to religious life? How does it make you feel when you’re in the seminary or doing a come-and-see at the monastery? How do you feel about your husband, wife, or job? If I based whether or not I live in community right now on how I feel, I would go back to living alone in the basement apartment again.

Feelings have to be balanced by reason and our intellect. It feels right to some people to burn and loot when they get angry. It feels right for some people to abuse women and children. Do their feelings mean that what they are doing is right? No. 

 Lifting weights hurts, and learning a new language can be difficult and painful. Are the pain and difficulty a sign that you are doing something wrong? No.

I have many books… Many! When Brian and I moved in together, I told him that because we were living as brothers in a community, my books were no longer mine but ours. Over time, as the newness of our friendship wore off, I started seeing my books as mine again. I shared this with him a few weeks ago and told him I needed my books to be mine, and he agreed. I took my discomfort with him having free access to the books as a sign that I had made a mistake, and that was incorrect. My discomfort is a sign that I had made the right decision because it was causing me discomfort. Discomfort comes with growth, which is why, or at least part of why, I moved in with Brian in the first place.

Community requires sacrifice. Community is a way of living out a family life without a wife or husband and biological children. I know I need this, but I hate how it makes me feel. I understand, in general, that what I hate most is usually what I need most. So I stay. And I will, shortly, make the books ours again instead of mine. I’m sure I will regret the decision almost immediately, but that is not an indicator of whether or not I am doing the right thing or if this is my calling. So, I persevere by God’s grace.

Written 1/16/21 AD


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