My tastes, habits, and desires are almost all cultivated. Whatever I tend in the field of my life is what will grow strongest and remain hardy even in times of drought. I regularly cultivate two things that can not coexist: unchastity and Catholicism. Unchastity has been cultivated for far longer than Catholicism has. If I want to remove it from my field, I must not only stop cultivating it but cultivate new things that can grow in its place. I have the seeds of these new crops, but I either don’t plant them – if I do plant them, I quickly rip them up as soon as they start to grow – or I ignore them once they are in the ground and begin to grow.

Many men want to be my friend but I will not interact with them. My mind, along with the enemy of purity, gives me a million reasons not to allow these men into the field of my life.

Some men get past stage one and get planted in the field of life. I cultivate their friendships with time spent together, sharing struggles, supporting one another in good and bad times, hanging out, and listening. I see them start to grow from a seed to an actual plant in my life, and I freak out. I begin to behave in destructive ways. Distrust, envy, fear, and sometimes conflict enter and tear away any budding friendship, leaving our connection in tatters.

A small number get past this stage, and these I stop cultivating altogether. No phone calls, no hanging out, no sharing. I starve them and watch them wither, fully aware of what I am doing but seemingly unable to stop it. They inevitably die, and I am again left with a dry, lifeless field.

During all this, I continue to plant plastic plants in my field to make it look and feel like there is life there. This is what unchaste behavior does. It gives me a false feeling of the connection I want without any real loving friendship. I frequently return to this false connection and avoid, actively destroy, or starve the opportunities for a real relationship that Jesus has lovingly brought into my life. So how do I fix this? I don’t; He does, with my cooperation.

All of my life, I’ve lived as many in the Courage apostolate do – with an open field of a life, if you will. I could freely rip out or put into my field whatever I wanted without anyone’s input or without impacting anyone in an obvious way. Two and a half years ago, I moved in with Brian, and that changed. With him, I have a field that has a fence around it. We, in some ways, have a common field now. Not the kind of common field you get from a marriage or romantic relationship but more of a common field similar to what you find in religious communities. Maybe it’s better to say fields that overlap each other more than people who live entirely separate lives. Though this overlapping of fields is good for us, it has also increased the difficulty of day-to-day life.

Every morning and evening, Brian is here. A seed already planted in my field, so the first stage of resistance for me is already bypassed. Stage two would be to rip him up from my field, but we have a lease on an apartment together, we have gotten to know each other and our families in a way that is not easily removed, and neither of us is in a position financially to live alone at this point. So there will be no ripping out. Stage three is for me to ignore him, which I try to do in subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways, but he will not allow that, thankfully. His sense of humor and considerate behavior makes it almost impossible for me to deploy the cold shoulder. So here we are. We are plants growing in the fields of each other’s lives. What can I do to stop this? The only option is to fill the field with plastic plants, and this is where I still struggle.

The realness of our friendship and the intensity and discomfort of living with each other daily pushes me to turn to what is comfortable—plastic plants of unchaste behavior. I see myself frantically planting these through phone sex, porn, and self-abuse. I ignore and rip out those I can from my field, but Brian is not going anywhere. This is how Jesus “fixes” my field. By keeping me fenced in with this real plant of chaste male friendship, I grow with Brian despite my fearful and anxious planting of fake greenery through unchastity. Jesus slowly pulls up what I lay down through my sinful choices and nurtures what is good in my life, leading me to what I really want – and that scares the crap out of me.

Thanks be to God.

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Garrett Johnson is a blogger and stylist living in MD. He joined the Arlington chapter of Courage in 2012 and has since helped establish the Washington DC and Baltimore MD chapters. He has spoken at the Courage Conference, on EWTN and at other Courage events. You can follow Garrett on Youtube and on his website

The opinions and experiences expressed in each blog entry in “The Upper Room” belong solely to the original authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Courage International, Inc. Some entries have been edited for length and clarity.