Ladies, it’s time to embrace our calling. Lucky for us, this embrace can be simpler than you might think. We have been created for so much more than the world tries to make us believe. If you are anything like me, your childhood was consumed by fairytales. Being a princess sounded like the best profession ever and that role came complete with Prince Charming. We were made to believe that happily ever after was a promised outcome.
Luckily for us, happily ever after is exactly what we have been created for, but it looks nothing like the ever after of fairy tales, and the path to get there can be more difficult than our favorite movies let on. We might not be fighting against an evil sea witch or a wicked stepmother, but we are in a battle, and our opponent is even uglier.
So what’s a damsel in distress to do when she realizes birds aren’t going to fly in her window every morning to help her dress (for me it seems those birds flew in overnight and made a home in my hair), and how do you cope when Mr. Princiepoo takes his sweet time, if he ever shows at all?
Simple – you turn to the actual hero of your story, the hero of all stories, the man who wants an intimate relationship with us on an individual level. He’s probably not going to come riding in on a white horse (unless Revelations 19:11 plays out for you) and I don’t think He sings show tunes, but He wants to be the subject of your daydreams and the man who sweeps you off your spiritual feet.
You’ve probably guessed by now that the hero I’m talking about is Jesus. What may be more concerning to you, is the fact that I used the words “simple” and “intimate” in the same sentence when talking about Him. It’s true, though, Jesus wants to be your knight in shining armor, the one you go to with your joys and your sorrows – the love of your life.
The problem I see is too many of us have fallen for the tricks and lies of the devil and have a distorted image of who Jesus is and the type of relationship He wants with us. That was definitely me several years ago, until one of my sisters-in-law gave me the best advice I have ever received. At a crucial point in my faith, when I was at a breaking point trying to figure out what the whole purpose of life was, and at a time when I was extremely angry at God, my sister-in-law looked at me and said, “I know what you need, you need to fall in love with Jesus, head over heels in love.”
I’ll admit, when I was given that advice, it took me a bit off guard. In the moment of my despair, being told that I needed to fall in love with Jesus was the last thing I thought I needed. I wanted the answers to life’s big questions, I wanted an explanation, and instead I got… relationship advice?!?! But at that point I was desperate for something to fill the spiritual void I had in my heart, so I decided, why not – I mean, what was the worst that could happen?
Turns out, this was the best advice I could have possibly been given. I didn’t really know where to start when it came to falling in love with Jesus, so I thought about it and came up with a plan – if you want to fall in love with someone, you have to get to know them, and how do we do that – we date them. As crazy as it sounds, I knew that was what I needed to do – date Jesus.
That idea could have been daunting, but as soon as the notion came into my head I thought that daily Mass would be the perfect way to do this. Looking back, I don’t really think I came up with that idea. I truly believe that Jesus asked me out on those dates, I just didn’t recognize His voice at the time. Even though I didn’t recognize His voice, thank God I said yes.
During this period of time, I was blessed to live down the road from a hospital that had a beautiful little chapel that offered early daily Mass. At this point I had a twinkle in my eye. I knew in my heart that I would NEVER have gotten up that early to go to Mass, on a weekday mind you, if there wasn’t something, or Someone, pulling me there. That pull was Jesus, assisted my His mama, Mary.
I remember being so nervous as I walked into the little chapel that first morning. Apart from the fact that the sun hadn’t even risen yet and, by all normal accounts, I was alone, it felt like a real date. As soon as I walked into the chapel and dipped my hand into the holy water font, it became very clear to me that I was anything but alone.
Jesus was there, He was waiting for me. He had been waiting for me for years, the problem was, until then, we had never properly been introduced. Jesus didn’t just want to be my friend, like I had constantly been told as I grew up; the lover of my soul wanted to be just that, my lover, my deepest desire and my most intimate companion.
Ok, I hope at this point I haven’t lost you, because the thought can seem crazy. My lover, Jesus wants to be my lover? Yes, yes, He does. This is where those tricks and lies of the devil come in big time. We tend to have a very distorted vision of what love truly is.
Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians all about love (1 Corinthians 13), and when we remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit is the true author of scripture, we can then know that love is a multitude of wonderful things: patience, kindness and rejoicing in the truth. Jesus loves us in the most innocent yet passionate way. The intimate relationship our Lover wants to have with us is not erotic, it is pure and beautiful; gentle, yet fierce.
When I made the effort to say yes to Jesus, I was consumed with that fierce love like I had never felt before. Up to that point I had been struggling, majorly struggling, with believing that I was a beloved child of God. I felt like God made a mistake with me, maybe He didn’t really create me because He wanted to, maybe I was an accident that now He just had to deal with.
I thought I was worthless and undeserving of love, the devil had his claws in my heart so deep I used to hate whenever anyone touched me; if someone hugged me it actually caused me physical pain. All the while on the outside I looked fine – I went to church, I prayed – but I was hiding emotional scars, and the burden that was pressing on my soul was getting heavier and heavier.
Those feelings are what led me to the despair I lived with for many years. Top that off with constant questions about why I wasn’t dating or why I wasn’t married yet or was I even trying to find a boyfriend, and I began to believe the lies even more. On my worst days I asked God to take my life, on my best, no one tried to hug me so I didn’t have to feel repulsive, and I could continue to hide behind my smile and sarcasm. I think all along I knew that I wasn’t made to feel this way. I knew that God loved me and created me out of beauty, but if I admitted that, I’d have to face my demons head on, and that to me was more terrifying than my pain.
So imagine the joy I felt when I finally faced those demons, and instead of terror, I found true love – divine love. As I sat at Mass that first day, and on the days following, it was like Jesus was truly courting me. Every reading and sermon spoke to the scars I had been trying my best to hide for the majority of my young life.
The tears that ran down my face every morning at Mass seemed like an inevitable part of the healing process. With every teardrop, a part of my false facade was washed away. Normally people would question a man’s motives if he was making you cry on a date; but when those tears are filled with the Holy Spirit, I assure you, God’s motives are pure.
As if the peace I was feeling during those moments in that quiet little chapel weren’t enough of a personal love song, Jesus sent his Mother to me as an added comfort. No one can wipe away your tears like a mother can. I had spent my life running in the opposite way from her Son, yet there she was to let me cry on her shoulder when I realized I should have turned around ages ago. I don’t think it was any coincidence that the readings and little sermons at Mass that week were about Mama Mary. The lessons I was learning used our Holy Mother as an example, an example of perfect humility.
Up to that point I would not have thought I had a problem with humility. I didn’t think I was prideful, I thought I was worthless. What I learned that week was that pride isn’t the only opposing force of humility, just as damaging to our soul is not recognizing our worth. Thinking we are without value is contradictory to the truth of our identity. Each and every one of us is created in the image and likeness of God. The Creator of the universe, the artist of the breathtaking landscapes and intricate flowers, the choreographer of the dances of the trees in the breeze, the conductor of the choir of birds- He made all these things, all the beauties of the world, and then He made someone even more beautiful, a creation that would be a reflection of Him. He made you. And at no point in the Bible does He look at any of His creation and say “oops, I’m takin’ a mulligan on that one.”
How deeply I must have hurt God in my moments of despair, those moments I asked Him to take my life, those moments where all I could focus on were my faults, my feelings of loneliness. Through the sacrament of confession I have been forgiven of those sins, but they still pain me; God gave me the gift of life and instead of living my life as a thank you to Him, I asked Him to throw that gift in the garbage – not very humble.
Humility is seeing the gifts that God has given us and using them to praise Him, acknowledging that we do have value, we do have talents, and they are from God and can be used to glorify Him. Mary is the ultimate example of this, the handmaiden of the Lord, she can guide us out of despair to true humble praise of God.
I didn’t change overnight, I left Mass the first day, and the next, and the next, and was forced back into the reality of the world. I had good days and bad days with all that life brings, but I was set on a path towards greatness. Greatness in knowing that I was made for more, that I deserved more than the lies fed to me by the devil. I was made for a purpose, and even if I didn’t know what that purpose was just yet, I needed to keep on trusting, keep on dating Jesus, to get closer and closer to Him. Once I began letting Jesus love me, my life at last seemed to have meaning.
I took a leap of faith, and I fell, I fell hard. I fell head over heels in love with a Man unlike any other, Jesus, who had patiently been waiting for me with open arms. I can’t image the heartbreak I caused Him while He waited for me. All the times I told His Father what a mistake He made in creating me, all the times I begged for Him to end it all and end my suffering, all the times I lashed out in anger at those around me because I couldn’t bear to let anyone close enough to tend to my wounds.
Through all that, Jesus never left me. He loved me and He waited patiently for me to love Him back. Jesus is a gentleman like that. He will never force us to love Him or force us to do what He knows is best. God gave us free will because He wants us to love Him. How profound that the Creator of the world wants something from us, something so simple, yet so seemingly difficult – our love.
Once I fell in love with Jesus, I finally realized there was nothing wrong with me. Of course everything in my life didn’t magically get better. I still had a job I didn’t care for, strained relationships, and I still struggled with insecurity and sin. We are a fallen race, original sin means that there will always be suffering in our lives. Falling in love with Jesus isn’t going to eliminate that, but it will change how we get through our suffering.
For all the years that I had had the outlook that I was going at it all alone, when I fell, I pushed Jesus away and landed in the ugliness of my own sin and self reliance. Now when I fall, I call out to Jesus and He catches me well before I hit the ground. He is there to comfort me in His divine arms, listen to me as I pour out my sorrows to Him, and wipe away the tears that fall from not just my eyes but from my soul. As long as we call out to our Lover, we will never be alone. With Jesus by our side, we can take on the world and be the person we are meant to be.
You might remember in the beginning of this chapter I said that we needed to embrace our calling and that it could be simple. It’s important to remember that simple doesn’t always mean easy. Like with any relationship, if you want it to be deep and meaningful and long lasting, you have to put effort forth and you have to trust your partner. Embracing our calling means that we seek to live out the life God wants us to live and we recognize that His plans are better than anything we could dream up for ourselves.
For single ladies, that isn’t always easy. Seeing our friends and family get married and starting families of their own can make our own material longing seem like a burden. For so many years I believed that I needed to get married to live a full life. I believed it because it was what everyone around me was telling me. However, God puts us where we are and will take care of us in whatever role that might be if we let Him – it’s simple, not easy.
I wasted many years of my life pining for a prince that never came. I say wasted because had I simply embraced my singleness and chose happiness over anger, jealousy, envy and frustration, I know I could have moved mountains. As women, we were made to be helpers, if you don’t believe me read Genesis. Even if you haven’t read the creation story lately, you don’t have to look hard to see that helpfulness is in a woman’s nature.
Bake sales, fundraisers, friends in need – what do these things have in common? They are all places you will find a ton of women. We flock to those in need, we are the helpers. By embracing our singleness we can help in a way others can’t. We are free to offer up our time, we are free to be spiritual mothers to people around us.
How often have you heard that it takes a village to raise a child? Well I’m gonna guess that village was made up of a lot of helpful women. Help your friends, your family, your community, your church, and do so with a joyful heart. Choosing joy is not always easy, but you’ll be amazed at what happens when you do.
It’s time to live your life to the fullest, to live the life that God created for you. Trust in God, not just blindly, but by courting Him like He courts you. Try every day to choose joy, and at the end of the day reflect on how you did or didn’t live out that choice. Choosing joy doesn’t mean that you will always feel joyful – you’ll stumble, you’ll struggle. The joyful part comes in knowing that no matter what, Jesus will be right there by your side.
Remember that Jesus once walked on the very same earth you did. If you are struggling to have an epic spiritual relationship with Him, sometimes you just need to remember that He is human too. Get to know Him, date Him, fall in love with Him – show your love for Him by glorifying the gift He gave you; be the helper his Father created you to be. When you start living for others instead of living for yourself, you will be amazed at what, and who, God sends to join you.
Getting to the point where you fall head over heels in love with Jesus will take time. Jesus wants an intentional love; He doesn’t want to be just an afterthought. If you are ready to become a part of the greatest love story you could ever know, now is the time to open your heart and soul to the love of Jesus.
Opening your heart can hurt, to truly give yourself to the Lord you have to confront the demons that you have allowed to live in the depths of your soul – the ones you have feared to address, the ones you spend most of your energy trying to hide. Take comfort in knowing that you can’t hide anything from the Lord. He knows your sin, He knows your flaws, He knows your weaknesses. But guess what? He loves you anyways.
Jesus is holding out His hand to you – will you take it?