Thursday, May 4, 2006

'Chaste' Taste

Earlier this week, my editor at my publisher, W Publishing Group/Thomas Nelson, sent me the front cover of my first book, due in December:

I love it. I really can't get over how good it looks.

I had steeled myself for a chick-lit type of cover with a corny caricature, juvenile candy colors, and the title written in a dainty script typeface. Instead, the publisher's gone for a classy, mature, introspective look, with just a hint of playful irony. It reflects the book's tone, which is the most that I could ask for. What's more, it looks like something that one wouldn't be embarrassed to be caught reading on a bus.

I am so, so happy and excited that this is going to be the cover of my book; it makes the book's publication, though still far away, seem that much more real to me.

* * *

One of the things that I write about in my book is the different stages that one goes through as a single woman working at chastity. The stages go in waves; one can feel confident and secure for a while, and then dip down into loneliness and a sense of lack. I believe that the worst of the loneliness gets less severe over time, but it's important not to deny one's longings for love and companionship.

Our rational nature as human beings makes us resist paradox, yet the acceptance and even embrace of paradoxes is necessary for spiritual maturity. I take issue with those who boast that a single person who has any desire for marriage can nonetheless feel fulfilled in the same way that a married person can feel fulfilled. For me, as a single woman, the paradox of being chaste is that it is nothing and it is everything. It is nothing, in that it is not good for man to be alone. Marital love is one of the greatest things that a person can experience, and it has no direct equivalent. But being chaste is also everything, in that it enables me to see, on a day-to-day basis, what beauty there is in being incomplete.

None of us are ever complete. To be complete is to lack any upward striving, any need to grow. The rubber plant on my table as I type this is complete in that it doesn't have any obviously broken leaves or stems. But to consider it complete, in the sense that it contains within itself everything it ever needs, would kill it. It can't go on living without growing; that's not in its nature. It's the same for me, and that's where chastity enables me to pursue my spiritual goals in a way that I couldn't before I was chaste.

Before I began to work at chastity, I tried to fill the empty space in my heart and soul with things that would never fill it. Now, I work prayerfully to overcome my fear of having that empty space. As I do, I find that, as painful as it can be sometimes, I need it there.

One of my favorite Bible verses is in Psalm 37:

"Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart."

I see the instruction to "feed on His faithfulness" as meaning that I should look to God for my spiritual food. To do this, I must be hungry. Chastity acknowledges this spiritual hunger, and so opens me up to God's blessing.

That's part of the thrill of the chaste. For the rest, the book will be available for pre-order on Amazon in a few months. I know a chaste person shouldn't use this phrase, but why not: I can't wait.