Category Archives: Dating & Relationships

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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Why We Long For Love & How to Glorify God in Your Singleness (Part 1)

Question:

A question that has been bugging me lately: Why are we women so in a rush to get married?

I’m a 26 year old medical student and I’ll be graduating at age 30. I was dating this guy…but sadly we had to separate. The event devastated me and I started to seek God more, and trust that this happened in my love life for a reason.

Its been months since the separation, but its still nagging me. Why is it in my mind I’m so obsessed about getting married, when I know its not the time for me to get married and have children right now? I guess, loosing a potential husband caused me to think it more. And my age makes me think about it, but I have a feeling even with different circumstances, many women are desperate to get married. Why is that and how can we stay ‘calm’ about it 🙂

Thank you very much!

Answer:

Thanks for this great question!  I am actually deferring it to someone who I think can give a much better answer than I could.  Lisa Marie Hunt is a Catholic youth speaker in Southern California.  (She’s also my confirmation sponsor, has known me my entire life, and is basically big sister to me.)  The first of her two-part answer is below.  Check back Thursday for Part Two!

 

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It’s not surprising that when Mary got this question that she sent it my way. I am the “token” single woman in most of my friends’ lives.  For most of my 29 years of life this has seemed like a curse, but in recent years I have realized the blessing that God has given me in my singleness, and I long for others to see their singleness as a gift as well!

I would first like to answer why we women (and really people in general) are so “desperate to get married.”  This desire—the longing to be married to somebody who knows the most intimate parts of our heart, who sees our strengths and weaknesses and who has chosen to love us despite our unworthiness—is a longing placed on every human’s heart.  That longing is on your heart, on mine, on the stranger’s you see in the grocery store, and that married person sitting in the pew in front of you at Mass.

The longing is real and good, we should not dismiss it.  The Catechism states that the longing is actually “the desire for God [that] is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God”(27).  We desire for God to know the most intimate parts of our hearts, for him to see our strengths and weaknesses and to choose to love us in spite of our unworthiness.  No person, friend, parent, spouse or child will ever be able to fill this longing.  And yet, God in His goodness, has given us different ways on Earth to see the way that He loves us and to fill part of that desire.  For many of us the spousal love we partake in on Earth will be the closest way we will have that longing filled this side of Heaven.

The problem comes when we let that longing stifle us and stop us from living in the moment that God has called us to.  For the large majority of my life I was stuck. I was stuck dwelling on why I was single when so many of my friends started dating, got engaged and eventually married. One of the blessings of my singleness is that I have a lot of girl friends and with that I am blessed that I will be in my ninth wedding this summer.  However, with each wedding comes an even bigger reminder that I am still single… and that most of the brides are younger than me!

As I worked my way through bridesmaids dress after bridesmaids dress (not quite 27… but I still have time!) and continued to grow spiritually I wondered why God didn’t think it was time for me to get married.  Was I not holy enough?  Not pretty enough? Was God upset with me for something?  Did he want me to be a Sister, even though my desire to be a wife and mother was so strong? Was I ever going to get married or would I be stuck as a lonely, old, lady… who couldn’t even have cats because I am allergic to them!?  And then about five years ago I read the very first paragraph in the Catechism: “He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength”.  Nowhere in that sentence, or the paragraph that encompasses it, did the authors mention marriage, religious life or singleness.

I had been dwelling on the longing in my heart and thinking it was for a man, when in reality that longing was for Him and my purpose was to seek Him, to know Him and to love Him.  If getting married would help me to do that, then Praise God! if becoming a Sister allowed me to do that, then Praise God!  And if for whatever crazy reason God wanted me single, then Praise God!  That moment was a life-changer for me.

Come back Thursday to see how God has been blessing my singleness since I started allowing Him to have control of it!

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Woman In Love: A Love Story Worth Reading

I’m sort of a sucker for love stories. 

But then again—aren’t we all?  Love is the most basic human need.  The music we listen to, the TV shows we watch… everything about the culture we live in testifies to the fact that we are starving for real love that satisfies.  Because of this, I believe that great love stories—REAL Love stories—deserve to be told and re-told.  The story of Mark and Katie Hartfiel, which I got to read this past week in Katie’s book, Woman In Love, is one of those stories.

Woman In Love

As a highschooler in Colorado, Katie was convicted one week to begin praying in earnest for her future spouse.  She began to keep a notebook in which she would write letters to her “Husband-to-Be” (or simply, “HTB”), assuring him of her love and prayers for him.  Years later, she would discover that the very same week she began her journal and her prayers for her HTB, a young man in Houston, Texas was inexplicably brought to his knees one night in an outpouring of grace that began his conversion to a life in Christ.

Woman In Love tells the story of Mark and Katie’s journey towards true Love, while encouraging young women everywhere to follow in Katie’s footsteps and “get in the trenches” for their Husband-To-Be.  What I especially enjoyed about the book was that it was both a love story as well as a practical guide to living a life of purity.  With each chapter you get a little bit more of Mark and Katie’s love story, but the story is infused with practical advice for young women to live out our universal call to Love.

Every woman can and should be a “Woman In Love”—in love with Jesus and in love with her future spouse (some will even learn that the two are actually one in the same!).

If you are a young woman or if you know a young woman, I encourage you to pick up this book.  Here’s just a little excerpt from the first chapter:

“…Yes, your vocation has a name.  This name was spoken when the Lord breathed you into being within your mother’s womb.  Your Creator set out a perfect plan for your life ending with a triumphant ‘happily ever after’ as you fall back into the Father’s arms at your death…

…Does this mean that there is only one person for you?  Maybe…then again maybe not.  What it does mean is that the Lord knows everything.  He stands outside of time and is intimately aware of every breath you will take.  He knows the decisions you will make.  He knows the man you will marry, and He knows where your Husband-To-Be is at this very moment.  He would love to shower grace upon him in response to your prayers.”

You can read more about Katie, and order Woman In Love, by clicking the image above, or visiting www.womaninlove.org

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Love and Selfishness

In recent times there has been somewhat of an appropriate backlash against the idea that a girl is supposed to be an idle “princess” just waiting around for her Prince Charming.  In fact, not to long ago I wrote a post about how we don’t actually have to wait another minute for our love story to begin, because Love has been waiting for us since the beginning.

But along with the well-meaning advice of being told to first be confident in yourself before diving into a relationship, I think we’ve been getting some not-so-good advice regarding what will lead to true happiness.

I hear way too much talk of being selfish as an antidote to losing your identity in another person.  Now, instead of being told to change who we are in order to please others (which, by the way, is also not-so-good advice), we’re told things like: be selfish, put yourself first, and don’t let others “get in the way” of your own success.

Ladies and gentlemen:  This is not the message of the Gospel.  Nor is it a recipe for lasting happiness.

We’re supposed to love ourselves, yes.  But that’s not the same thing as being selfish.  The idea that another person is an inconvenience, or something to be overcome for the betterment of ourselves, is a poisonous one.  We’re called to love and to service—not selfishness.

Now, this doesn’t mean we’re supposed to be pushovers, or that a poor or ill-formed understanding of “love” should be an excuse to settle into unhealthy romantic relationships.  But throwing love of others out the window in favor of selfishness will ultimately lead to emptiness, no matter how much material success it may bring you.

If you want to know the secret to lasting fulfillment, Jesus already gave it to us in the two greatest commandments: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…[and] you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39).

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Love and Marriage and the Catholic Church

I’ve gotten several questions over the past few months about the Church’s teaching on same-sex marriage.  It’s a topic I’ve written on before, but today I wanted to focus on the bigger picture.  Let’s put same-sex marriage aside for a just one second and discuss what love and marriage are supposed to mean to man according to the Catholic Church.

The official teaching of the Catholic Church for all persons—gay, straight, male, female, single, married, what have you—is that we are all called to chastity.

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Let’s just stop for a moment and think about how counter-cultural that idea alone is.

As a Christian, I don’t believe that two unmarried people should live together as if they were married.  I don’t believe that any person—married or single—should look at pornography.  I believe, as Jesus teaches, that any man who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart (and vice-versa).  I believe that the marital embrace ought to be reserved for, well, marriage.  I believe that a valid marriage is binding until death.  I also believe that marriage is for both the procreation of children and for the unity of the couple.

Let’s face it, you guys.  In eyes of the world, we’re nuts long before you even introduce the idea of same-sex marriage.

But this is sort of where the problem lies.  Like the frog slowly boiling in the pot, we’ve gradually become accustomed to the way the rest of the world views sex, love, and marriage (and unfortunately, it’s usually presented in the that order).  We invite all sorts of misrepresentations into our homes in the TV shows and movies we watch.  We stand by silently as our friends move in with their significant others before marriage.  Artificial contraception is accepted as normal— even responsible— for the unmarried and married alike.

We excuse our silence in the face of all of this because, “it’s not our place to speak up.”  It’s not our place to impose “our views.”

This could be why the rest of the world is— somewhat justifiably— so confused and so angered by our stance when it comes to things like same-sex marriage.  We don’t make a huge fuss when it comes to all of the other ways in which society has skewed the truth about sex, love, and marriage—why are we picking this one to be so upset about?  It’s a valid question.

Many other people in the Christian blogosphere have already made this point.  And by it I don’t mean to say that we’re so far gone that we should just let this one slide, or even that same-sex marriage is “no big deal” because we’ve already accepted so many other misrepresentations of what God designed sex and marriage for.  It is a big deal—but it’s also in some ways just the next [il]logical step along the slippery slope on which we’ve set ourselves.

So what’s a Christian to do in the face of misrepresentations of the truth about love?

We start living out the truth—the whole truth—of God’s plan for love in our lives.  Instead of opening up a book on what the Bible says about same-sex marriage for the sole purpose of winning the argument in the Facebook comments, let’s open up the pages of Scripture and ask God to write His Law on our hearts.  Let’s begin to speak up when love is misrepresented, and make an effort to stop welcoming the lies into our homes without so much as batting an eyelash.  And let’s do all of this not because we’re angry, but because it genuinely breaks our hearts to see love misrepresented as something less than what it is.

We’re called to be light to the world.  Are we living our lives in such a way that people are surprised to learn that we believe in the truth about God’s plan for love, marriage, and family life? 

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