Category Archives: Dating & Relationships

In Defense Of “Soul Mates”

It has been said that:

Real love is not all feelings.

Real love takes work.

Real love requires choosing your beloved on a daily basis. 

These are all statements that I believe to be true.  But, can I let you in on a little secret?

I believe in soul mates. And [thankfully], I believe that I married mine.

“I have found Him whom my soul loves.”
(Song of Songs 3:4)

It is certainly understandable why so many people want to do away with the notion that those of us called to marriage are predestined to a specific “soul mate.” After all, what if you marry someone who is not your soul mate, and then end up meeting your “true” soul mate five years after the wedding?

For this reason, I did not always believe in soul mates. After all, real love requires work. You are not always going to have that warm and fuzzy feeling about your beloved. I used to reason that as long as I married someone that I was attracted to, and who understood these things, we would likely have had a pretty good marriage and probably live a happy life together.  And that would be just fine.

Then I met Tyler.

To be clear: I do not agree with every part of the common definition of a soul mate. When I say my husband is my soul mate, I do not mean that he is the one who satisfies my heart’s deepest longings or who fulfills my every need. If this is what a soul mate is, then none of us have one, and none of us can be one. As far as that kind of a soul mate is concerned, I agree with Saint Augustine: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

On the other hand, I also do not mean that my husband is my soul mate only because we felt some level of attraction for one another, got married, and now we put a lot of work into our relationship. (Even though all of these are of course true statements.)

When I say my husband is my soul mate, I mean that there is a kind of perfection and a peace to our being together that I cannot fully explain— nor take credit for. I think it can only be explained by the grace of God.

When I say my husband is my soul mate, I mean that I believe that I was meant to marry Tyler Pearson, and not just any guy who happened to share my most deeply held beliefs, had similar interests as me, and was easy on the eyes. I believe that God led us to one another, and even though we could have chosen not to, I believe that it was God’s plan for us to get married.

I believe that when I prayed for my future husband while I was growing up, I was praying for Tyler. God knew the name of the man who He would call to lovingly lead me to Heaven through the Sacrament of Marriage. God knew, and it was my job to listen to Him and to discern my relationships to find my soul mate: Tyler Pearson.

If I could tell the younger version of myself one thing about finding my husband it would be this:

Yes, true love will require work and it will not always be easy. But your soul mate will be more than just the result of hard work and similar interests. Believing in soul mates does not mean acting contrary to reason; it just means that you leave some room for grace to lead your heart. Listen to what the desires of your heart are telling you. They are going to lead you to a relationship more wonderful than you can imagine.

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Some Thoughts on the “Blank Space” Dating Mentality (A Song Review…Kind Of)

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I am not at all ashamed to admit that there is a soft spot in my heart for Taylor Swift. Many a drive has been spent rocking out to her albums, and more than one of my teenage heartaches once found a balm in her lyrics.

These days, my appreciation for Miss Swift has less to do with my personally being able to relate to her lyrics about heartache, and more to do with the joyful confidence that exudes from my nieces when I get to see them rocking out to Shake It Off.

However, every time I hear the song Blank Space on the radio, my heart breaks a little. The lyrics are so relatable for so many in that stage in life when they are searching for “the one,” so in a sense I get it. In fact maybe my heart breaks partially because I’ve been there. I know that longing, I know that heartache. I know it can feel like a never-ending cycle.

But I also know now that it doesn’t have to.

The song is all about that willingness to put yourself out there despite past heartache. Swift sings in the song’s refrain:

“I’ve got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane/
But I’ve got a blank space, Baby, and I’ll write your name.”

Apart from the rest of the lyrics and outside of the melancholic melody of the song, these words almost sound like a dare coming from someone who treats love and dating as if it were just a game. In fact, at another point early in the song she actually says, “Love’s a game, wanna play?” However, anyone who has actually listened to the whole song can tell you, Blank Space isn’t meant to be the happy refrain of someone who is content playing the field. Rather, it’s the jaded defense mechanism of all of us who have ever bought into the false promises associated with chasing “the one.”

“You can tell me when it’s over if the high was worth the pain”

I’m not picking on Taylor Swift. I actually like the song and am glad she wrote it. And its popularity attests to the fact that so many of us can relate—and so many of us are sick of it.

The problem with the Blank Space mindset is that it has a false premise. It assumes that your only two options in soul mate-searching are “forever” or “down in flames.” When faced with the latter, we are presented with the choice to become closed off and bitter, or to continue to be open in the hopes that the next one who comes along may actually be “the one.”  We justify putting ourselves on this merry-go-round by hoping desperately that any and all heartache or pain will be worth it once we finally find our happily ever after.

For what it’s worth, to anyone still caught on the merry-go-round, I’d like to offer another way. “Putting yourself out there” does not have to be synonymous with “giving yourself away.”  And not giving yourself away to everyone you date doesn’t have to mean becoming closed off and bitter.

I’m not promising that you’ll escape all heartbreak, nor that you won’t encounter pain.  But there is a way to avoid those feelings of emptiness, being utterly lost, or broken.  It’s called chastity, and it’s more than just not having sex.

2337 Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.

2338 The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.

(Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Chastity means admitting that love isn’t a game and dating isn’t merely for fun.  (Dating can and should be fun, but “fun” isn’t the end goal.)  The chaste person agrees with the Blank Space mentality insofar as admitting that real love must involve an utterly terrifying, and completely vulnerable, total gift of self.  The difference is that the chaste person waits to do so until forever is promised— not with empty words, but with a lifelong commitment.

One of the first blog posts I ever wrote explains the way that I wish I had approached dating in my Blank Space days.  It’s still among my most visited posts on this site, so check it out if you’re looking for tips on how to get off that merry-go-round.  😉

I’ll be praying for you!

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Book Review – Chastity Is For Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin

Ave Maria Press recently gave me the opportunity to read and review Arleen Spenceley’s  Chastity Is for Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin.  I was given the book free of charge, but the opinions in my review are 100% my own:

 

Arleen Spenceley was a journalist for the Tampa Bay Times when, in 2012, she “outed” herself as a 26-year-old virgin in an op-ed that went viral.  Chastity Is For Lovers tells that story (and so many others), while inviting young people to discover the meaning of chastity in our universal call to love.

I was intrigued to read Spenceley’s book not only because I am a sucker for chastity books but also because it sounds like the beginning of a romantic comedy (another thing I can’t resist).  Young spunky journalist writes op-ed about being a virgin and is caught in the midst of a media frenzy—hilarity ensues.

Chastity Is For Lovers did not disappoint, and Spenceley’s unique voice and style of storytelling was a refreshing change of pace on a topic that can often feel over-saturated with voices merely repeating one another.

The risk of a chastity book written by a self-professed “happy virgin” is of course that it has the potential to come off as prideful or judgmental to those who have walked a different path.  Or, to compensate for this fear, often those who preach chastity are so afraid of coming off as judgmental that they end up all but apologizing for their virginity. But Chastity Is For Lovers succumbs to neither of these pitfalls.  Spenceley is bold enough to be authentically herself—neither apologizing for her virginity nor boasting of it.  And it pays off.

All in all, Chastity Is For Lovers is a solid book on the Christian virtue of chastity that I would definitely recommend for young Catholics of dating age, or anyone looking for encouragement in navigating the world of dating.

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Why You Should Pray For Your Family

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(cary pennington photography)

“Marriage is to help married people sanctify themselves and others.  For this reason they receive a special grace in the sacrament which Jesus Christ instituted.  Those who are called to the married state will, with the grace of God, find within their state everything they need to be holy”

-Saint Josemaria Escriva

This weekend, my family and I are attending our fourth wedding of the year!   Seems like every time I turn around I’m at a bridal shower, wedding, or a baby shower!  It’s that time of life, I am told 🙂

The super-cool thing?  This makes the fourth wedding this year of awesome Catholic couples we know beginning their journey towards Heaven together! (In fact, this weekend’s groom-to-be actually used the line, ‘”seek heaven with me’” in his proposal.  Seriously.  Awesome Catholic couple land is where I live.)

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So Tyler and I began a little tradition this year of praying a novena for each of the couples’ weddings we’re attending beginning nine days before their big day.

We’ve been using Saint Josemaria Escriva’s “Novena for the Family” (and we’ve about memorized it by now!)

What I love about this novena is that it has short reflections for each day on the vocation of marriage and the family.  In typical Saint Josemaria fashion, the reflections are succinct, but oh-so practical and rich.

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I’ve said it before, but our culture is getting further and further away from understanding what marriage actually is supposed to be.  It’s a party.  It’s a way to celebrate your love.  A way to make it “official” (whatever that’s supposed to mean).  If the part of the vows that promises a lifelong union are even recited, they’re not taken seriously a few years down the road when things get tough.

But I truly believe that a Christian marriage—a truly Christian marriage at which Christ is the center, Heaven is the goal, and both spouses know and live this out—is one of the most powerful witnesses to the love of God that our culture is so thirsting for.

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That’s why I’m excited about these new families, and it’s why I pray so earnestly for them.  As Pope Francis says:

No matter what our vocation is, we all belong to a family.  So pray for families!  Pray specifically for YOUR family!  Know that I am praying for you, too.

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How to Glorify God in Your Singleness (Part 2)

 

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This is the second of a two-part guest post from Lisa Marie Hunt on glorifying God with your singleness.  Click here to go back and read Part One.

On Tuesday, I wrote a post answering why we women (and really just people in general) have a tendency to long for marriage.  Now I would like to focus more on how those of us who are single can not only be ‘calm’ in our singleness but actually realize the gift we have in our singleness.  If I had been the author of my story, I would have been happily married by 22 and would now be pregnant with my sixth child, since at least one pregnancy would have blessed me with twins.  The reality is that I am not the author of my life and for some reason God still has me as a very single 29 year old.

Although I am still praying God has a spouse out there for me, I can truly say I am content and honored that He has called me to serve Him as a single woman at this time in life.  You see, in the past five years God has been showing me that my purpose in life is to seek, know and love Him with all my heart.  Each stage in our life will look different and at each stage there will be challenges and gifts that will help us to live that out most fully.  I will admit that now when I think about this stage of singleness I see a lot more gifts than challenges.

First of all, as a single person we have SO much time.  This question was written by a medical student so she might be laughing at that idea.  I have never been a medical student but I have had my fair share of times in life when I would have claimed to have had no time.  That was a lie, I just didn’t use that time very wisely.  I spent it watching TV, stalking people on facebook, crushing digital candies and the list goes on.  I still do it, but now I am real with myself.  When I choose to prioritize my life I realize that I do have time. Time to stop by the Blessed Sacrament Chapel more regularly, to read books that challenge me spiritually, and to spend time with my family and friends.  You might think you have no time but just look at those parents, loaded with kids and realize that even their down time is still usually consumed by their little blessings.  And I bet, as much as they love their kids, they have moments when they wish they could have a quiet half hour in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.

Singleness also allows us to dive in to our Catholic communities.  When I first became Catholic at 20 years old I started volunteering for my parish’s youth group (Mary was one of those teens).  The CORE Team was made up of seven 18 to 20 year olds, all in college, all single.  Over the years I have been blessed to watch many of those CORE members get married and have kids.  That has made it hard for them to invest their time into the ministry and they have slowly had to step back and find other ways to serve.  Use this time in your life to find how you want to serve your parish and start serving.  Had I gotten married at 22, like I wanted to, there are so many teens (who are now adults) that I would have missed getting to walk alongside on this journey to Heaven.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, use this time to really discern what God is calling you to do.  Discern which job will allow you to serve Him best.  Discern where you should live.  Discern how you should be giving of your time, talents and treasure.  But also discern your vocation.  If you are like me you have spent most of your young adult life saying the right Catholic answer: “I am open to religious life but I want to be married so I don’t think God is calling me to it”.  You are probably right, but have you actually discerned?  I challenge you in this time of singleness to go visit and seek opportunities to be immersed in situations that will allow you to see the fruitfulness of the different vocations you might be called to.  I would always say the “right” Catholic answer, but until the Fall of 2012 I hadn’t even had a real conversation with a Sister, let alone visited a convent.  How could I say I wasn’t called to be a Sister if I hadn’t ever experienced the utter beauty of religious life?

So does God have you single?  Good.  Go and praise Him for allowing you this time to seek, know and love him more.  And then start figuring out how you can structure your life to actually make that happen during this time of singleness.  He has you here, right now, for a reason.  And I can tell you there is nowhere better for you to be to fulfill His purpose for you.  So don’t wait, use this moment!

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