Emotional Chastity
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

My parents have the most intimidating Love story.

They knew each other when they were in elementary school, my dad took my mom out on her first date (refusing to kiss her at the end of the night), they did not date each other throughout high school or college, he drove her from their mutual college alma mater back home several times (refusing to give rides to other friends so he could have her company to himself), and met up again at a party several years later. They married a year to the date of that party.

It’s the kind of story that makes little girls swoon, hope for, and expect for their lives. They make plastic chicken in their miniature kitchens, tend to sick babydolls, and imagine writing and illustrating the World’s Greatest Storybook, while their fictitious husbands wait in the ethos.

At least, that’s the way I handled it. It has only been in the last year that I realized this was the bar I had set for my life, many years ago.

Results NOT TYPICAL

“But that is an adorable story. One with adolescence, romance, Love, and destiny.”

Yes, thank you, mom and dad, for telling it so many times that I may know where I began and that a romantic Love can overtake you like a wave.

However, like when I added two packets of Easy Bake Oven cake mix to the three diameter pan, sometimes too much of a good thing makes a cake bubble around a light bulb. Too much of a good thing digs a path labeled “Means to an End.”

Since the beginning of our Bright Maidens journey, we’ve spent considerable time discussing the clothes we put on our bodies, the way we carry our bodies, and why and why not to keep them to ourselves instead of sharing the intimate details with others. Theology of the Body, in fact, is a misleading term.

We choose to respect the profound importance of our bodies because we learned the deep appreciation and respect for who we are and what we have to give. So why do we have so many good young women falling victim to the wrong side of emotional, intellectual challenges?

Because we desire Love. We were created for it and we yearn for it. We just need to flip the patience switch.

Kids started “going out” in fourth grade at my elementary school, so the yearning started before the boys were even tall enough to be in my line of vision. Even as a kid who walked around with scrapes on her knees from playing soccer at recess, I felt like something must be wrong with me that no ten-year-old boy wanted to sit awkwardly next to me and share my glue stick.

They got to the serious stuff in middle school, where relationships lasted up to three months and consisted of hand-holding (creating that wide V between the tweens avoiding any contact other than sweaty palms). No “boyfriend” for me, though my parents’ story lingered in my mind.

High school, I thought, that is when I will recognize my clandestine future.

By the time high school rolled around, the girls became women, the boys became … grown up boys, and the relationships speckled the gossip mill. The weeks rotated between Valentine’s Day or VJ Day, depending, as the young women in my all-girls school taped pictures of their boyfriends on the inside of their lockers.

My self-preservation tactic was to print out pictures of my favorite celebrities for my binder covers and to add MiracleGro to an absurd number of crushes. He hadn’t arrived yet, so every guy within a preset age range might be him. I needed to stay on high-alert, I thought.

Rather than spending my formative teen years getting to know people as friends who could teach me about life and deepening my faith in God, I took matters into my own emotional hands. It was like I was auctioning off my capacity for Love by investing it in the celebrity photos, in the fantasies featuring my crushes, and in the hope that the guy across the room might be “the one.”

I won’t volunteer anyone with similar emotional chastity issues to step forward, but I know I’m not the only one who pretended a Love life for a chunk of time.

Who can blame us? We are capable of an unfathomable amount of Love and it’s exciting to think we might one day share it with someone else in a day culminating that emotion.

The problem is we expose our hearts to the elements. These are the same hearts we’re so eager to give to someone else. If we can’t keep a handle on our minds to protect these hearts, we run the risk of having one that looks like it got in a tussle with steel wool to offer to the one for whom we wait.

Female Kryptonite

I have to write my examples in past tense because I don’t want to admit to which acute degree I still struggle with this topic, but know that is still on my “to fix” list.

What I have learned is that my increase in happiness is directly correlated to a decrease in romantic presumption. Other people’s Love stories do not add to, nor do they take away from yours, so don’t speed up the process.

At no point are we “safe” from our over-thinking or romantic projecting. Our defense is a good offense: keep trust in God and that He has a plan rather than forcing a romantic Love story or fantasizing too far beyond reality.

It doesn’t get more Easy Bake than letting the Big Guy do the work for you. We just have to be open to it.

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