I never thought I would be doling out dating advice. I’m not a dater; I struggle with small talk, and I relate better to people my parents’ age. My sister likes to call me a crazy cat lady, I guess it’s lost on her that I don’t actually have any cats. Recently, though, it has become very clear to me that God has always had big plans for my singleness. Unfortunately, until now, I was too busy to realize those big plans because I spent a lot of time thinking and praying about all the things I didn’t have, things that were part of my plan. I wish I would have embraced this understanding earlier in my life and not spent so much time wondering if I was destined to be alone.
There is a beauty in being single; a single woman has the opportunity to serve God and His church in a way that is unique and needed, and most of all, necessary. As Pope St. John Paul II said in his Letter to Women, “Necessary emphasis should be placed on the ‘genius of women’, not only by considering great and famous women of the past or present, but also those ordinary women who reveal the gift of their womanhood by placing themselves at the service of others in their everyday lives. For in giving themselves to others each day women fulfill their deepest vocation.” 1But let’s be honest – if you are anything like me, your single status has kept you far from feeling that your fulfilling your “deepest vocation”. Why do you think that is? It’s something that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind recently, and usually when I have the same constant thoughts nudging my brain, it’s the Holy Spirit doing the nudging, not me. So I decided to reflect on why the Holy Spirit was putting so much effort into making me focus on my relationship status, and with His guidance, I began to learn something amazing about the genius of being a single woman.
I wasn’t lacking all of the things I thought I was when it came to life as a single lady. The complete opposite was true – I was given so much more than I understood. I also quickly realized that the problem wasn’t the fact that I was single and happy, and content to be so; it was that the people around me thought I couldn’t possibly be happy alone. I was whishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ for all the wrong reasons. I wasn’t begging God for a better half because I thought I needed one, I was pleading for one because other people thought I needed one, and putting too much thought into what other people think has never really been my style. So why did I care so much about this? Simple, I’m a people pleaser – and what a horrible reason that is.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that people care about me and my well-being. I know that the questions and the suggestions and the constant pleas to join Catholic Match are truly because my loved ones care about me. The main problem I see isn’t with the people I know and their concern for me, it’s with the way that singleness is viewed as a whole.
When you learn about the sacraments and it comes to the ever important sacraments of service, many of us were raised to see two options – marriage or holy orders. So from the get go you begin to think those are your only two options and you should be fulfilling one of them as soon as possible in your young adult life.
Hmm, so where is the sacrament for the “single and not quite ready to mingle” Catholic? Where is the guidance and the teaching on the importance of single, non-religious, people in the church? These were the thoughts that consumed my thinking – why was I being overlooked because me, myself, and I was all that I brought to the party?
I love the Church, being Catholic is my jam; but man oh man do Her and I have a love hate relationship sometimes. I think the hardest part of embracing my singleness hasn’t been the well intentioned nudging of my family, it’s been the lack of support from the church.
It’s the moment that you realize a lot of the ministries in the church are focused on marriage and families. Don’t get me wrong, these ministries are SUPER important. As the daughter of two parents who are celebrating over 50 years of marriage, I know that strong Christian unions are vital to the church; but so are single people. And single people shouldn’t just be important when you need something.
For how many of you reading this does that resonate with you? You know that there are certain people who have your number and use it only when work needs to be done – but nothing else. No fellowship, no friendship, just work. One of the many beautiful gifts available to singles is the ability to easily lend a helping hand. You don’t have anyone else’s schedule to work around or little ones needing your attention. When you begin noticing, though, that the only time you are contacted is to work, it can start to weigh you down.
So what does all this have to do with “dating Jesus” and what the heck does that even mean? For me, these thoughts have everything to do with my relationship with Jesus. Once I realized how I truly felt about myself, my loneliness and my relationship with the Church, I learned that none of that had anything to do with the fact that I didn’t have a man in my life – well, an earthly one anyways.
I wasn’t lacking a male companion, I was lacking a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus, and the hardest part of coming to this conclusion was that I had known this for years, yet still I begged God for something else, as if His offer wasn’t good enough for me. All the while I was thinking God was breaking my heart, I realize now that I was breaking His.
My hope is that the insights I offer into my spiritual dating life and the struggles I’ve faced can help my fellow crazy cat (or non-cat) ladies out there understand the gifts you have been given in your waiting. There are gifts, there is beauty, I promise. How can I promise this? Because my goal is to be who someone was for me almost 10 years ago, a heavenly matchmaker, and – big shocker here – we are all destined for the same Man. But don’t worry, there is plenty of Him to go around. Get ready to be wooed ladies because our guy Jesus is the ultimate gentleman, and He is patiently waiting for each and every one of us.
Finally, to all my already mingled, no longer single ladies out there, this story is just as much for you as it is for those lacking a plus one. I have not been blessed with the same state in life as you, so I can’t specifically speak to the beauty and struggles you encounter in your vocation. I do know, however, that in the heart of every woman is a desire for authentic love and that love is only possible when your heart is united to the Trinity.
While you may not be single now, I’m gonna go ahead and bet you were once, and I’m also gonna boldly bet that you have women in your life who are important to you that are single. This book is for us all, to help us relate and lift up one another, with the common goal of lifting each other all the way up to the King.
While some of us are single here on earth, we are all spiritually spoken for.
- John Paul II. “Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women.” The Holy See, 29 June 1995, https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/1995/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_29061995_women.html