Why we’re writing Lonely Awake.

 This story is about sexuality and identity.
Our culture has a very broken and hurt view of love, sex, and romance. 
And it’s rooted in a deeply deformed, selfish connection with ourselves.

There was a sweet meme I saw about a newly married couple. They were on their way home from their honeymoon, and the guy almost dropped his wife off at her parents house, just out of habit of always picking her up and dropping her off there. I was disheartened by the comments. Full of people saying marriage was stupid and how the couple was going to get divorced because they needed to live with their partner before getting married… but there was one girl who’s comment broke my heart. She called marriage “antiquated and unevolved.” She even disparaged people who got married young, pessimistically and critically saying that it was stupid and an almost guarantee you’ll get divorced.

Now, I don’t usually get into comment debates. I really don’t. But I suggested that the divorce rates might have more to do with our culture’s selfish attitude of “me first,” that if the relationship does not benefit them or hurts them, they break up or divorce. Love requires sacrifice, and people these days don’t want to sacrifice anything for anybody. We are incapable of real, true love because Love isn’t the romantic feelings or the sexual tension between two people, it’s the decision to stay together through thick and thin, commitment for the sake of growth and strength in trials together. 

Her response was almost demonic. She was berating and hateful, had no arguments aside from aggressive words and projecting her own insecurities on me. I kept talking with her because it was a clear and obvious window into the heart of the women in western culture today. Sure, she was a bit more extreme and obnoxious, but her words were interesting to me. She chose to set herself above the idea of marriage because she thought it was pointless and almost embarrassing, (Considering she herself was actively making fun of me for choosing to get married at a young age.) and that the risk was not worth her time. She wanted “freedom” to have sex if she so chooses, without the commitment involved that God designed to protect it.

“Thus it would be quite a good thing to make the patient decide that ‘Love’ is ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ If he is an arrogant man with a contempt for the body really based on delicacy but mistaken by him for purity– and one who takes pleasure in flouting what most of his fellow approve– by all means let him decide against love. Instill in him an overweening asceticism and then, when you have separated his sexuality from all that might humanize it, weigh in on him with it in some much more brutal and cynical form.” (Letter 19, The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis) 

Almost every other woman I’ve been very close to has had this exact sentiment. Not only that, but a more dominantly prominent amount of men I’ve met have it as well. The concept that marriage and commitment aren’t for them, either from a place of fear that the commitment won’t pan out because they’ll “fall out of love,” or their partner will if they don’t. It’s not the high divorce rate, it’s deeper than that. It’s that they’ve seen so many divorces, because they’ve never seen anyone living a marriage in true love. 

People give up. They care more about what they can get out of the marriage rather than what they can give. They only see how they were hurt, not how they are hurting the other. They put a cap on their extension of forgiveness out of self-preservation rather than falling into that recklessly selfless love that extends forgiveness to any necessary level and hold out in faith and love for their partner. It’s all about how “toxic” everything is, when really every human is fully capable of just as much evil as the next- it’s just a matter of how far they’re pushed and in what way they’re tested. Everyone is toxic. Having fights and having problems is human, and you can very easily pull the toxic card and get out of any relationship if you just take it from the selfish view of “prioritizing your mental health.” Yes, I do think that prioritizing your mental health is selfish. You can’t be bothered to take on the burden of another? Your inner turmoil and your problems are more important than another’s? You’d leave another person’s struggle in the dust to save your own peace of mind? We talk about “taking on burdens” and think it means “standing by” someone struggling through a hard time, like a poor financial situation, or a sickness or an injury- but that’s not carrying a burden. That’s having sympathy. That’s easy, because it makes you look good with no cost to you but a couple minutes where you at least look like you’re listening, and even get some bonus points for remembering details. Truly carrying the burden of another is taking hits, paying prices, and sacrificing anyway.
I’m not saying this from a place of judgment, because, believe me, I’m more than guilty of doing this myself. I’ve shoved off so many people in my life without a second thought because their shortcomings were not worth my time or my energy. But as I’ve received the grace and mercy from people who’ve carried the burden I loaded on them- the burden of my own hurtful words, actions, and horrible, delusional beliefs about them, the mercy and grace they had for me changed my life. That mercy and forgiveness let me see myself for something I wasn’t, to extend that mercy and forgiveness to myself rather than bounce around to new seasons of people like a pinball, never establishing any deep and meaningful relationships. I got the “maybe I’m the problem” realization without the lonely, hopeless feeling of being all alone with the monster that I am. Because of the people carrying the true burden of my shortcomings, holding out in patience with my hurtful ways, when I came around, I was standing in love. I had the hope that I can still be loved, and that fixing myself is worth it, and I don’t have to see myself as a horrible creature unworthy of holding anyone close to me.

In this world, there’s no grace. There’s no mercy. It’s only extended as far as people are willing to extend it to themselves, and this self-obsessed world has too high of standards for even themselves. Everyone is all too important to be bothered by other people’s toxic behavior, because they’re too busy hating the person in the mirror for their own shortcomings.
No one wants to change because it’s not worth it. What’s the point of fixing yourself if everyone only sees what you’ve done, ruminates on your sins… keeps them lingering around and pulling you back down to them? In a world thinking like this, everyone is against you. Some even hope you always stay the same to justify their own hurt. Others have no hope in you, and abandon you to protect themselves. It’s a vicious cycle that permeates through parents and children, friendships, romances- it’s no wonder the fundamental idea of marriage doesn’t stand a chance in hell.

So in Lonely Awake, we’re gonna talk about that.
We’re gonna talk about how true love is a choice. A choice to love someone despite all the hurt, failure and sin of someone else, and learning how to really love yourself, too.