Sunday, June 17, 2018
What I Learned When My Fiancé Left Me
Sometimes we single folks do all we can do, and it's still not enough. We dress well, we go to all the right social events to meet new people, we maintain our prayer life as best as we can, we frequent the sacraments. And yet we still suffer greatly, watching others who seem far less holy than we are have all the babies and pretty homes and handsome husbands. We are following all the rules and God still seems to be withholding His favor from us. So why follow the rules at all, then, if there's no payoff for us? Why not just be bad and happy instead of good and miserable? These questions interrogate me every day. My coworkers are all living with their significant others, getting all the sex they could ever want, buying new homes, and living lives of ignorant bliss. Whereas I, the "good girl," come home to emptiness and nothingness every day, and run to confession countless times a week to confess sins I wouldn't have to confess if I were married.
“Just give it time" and "God will bring someone along at just the right time" are two of the most despicable and pathetic pieces of advice you could ever give a single person. It is poor comfort indeed when we're sitting alone at Mass (like I was this morning), surrounded by young families with lots of kids, breastfeeding mothers who look like they just graduated high school, and the like. It's difficult indeed not to start scrutinizing others: "How could SHE find somebody to wed and bed THAT... and I can't!? WHAT THE HELL, GOD!!!"
Something I've learned these past few months is this: 1) We cannot depend on others to complete us, and 2) We cannot become angry at God when He doesn't always give us what we want.
We cannot depend on others to complete us, to take away our loneliness, and to solve all our problems, because only God can do that, and our spouse is not and never will be like God. When I was engaged, my entire life revolved around my fiancé. We did literally everything together. He "completed me," or so I thought. When he left, I realized how empty my life really was. I wasn't me anymore--I had become a parasite dependent on another man for my happiness instead of God. Even in marriage, if we aren't finding our completeness in God, we will be miserable no matter how much great sex we get or how wonderful, caring, and attentive our spouse might be.
We cannot become angry at God when He doesn't always give us what we want, because God owes us nothing. Our very conception and next breath are a gift from Him. We are so completely dependent on Him that if He forgot about us for even a moment, we would evaporate into the dust from which we came. With that in mind, how dare we whine and scream at God for not always giving us what we want! We are not following God for the "sweeties," as the White Witch from Narnia would say. We are not the followers of Christ only as long as the good times roll, only to abandon Him at the foot of the Cross. As long as we are in a state of grace, with a roof over our heads and food to eat, we truly have nothing to complain about. It is important for us single folks to adopt an attitude of gratitude, or else we'll get so immersed in our misery and curmudgeonly ways that NOBODY will want to be around us.
Now, with that being said, God is a good Father who loves to give us joy, just as an earthly father loves to make his children happy. And it's perfectly all right to be honest with our Loving Father and tell Him that we would very much like a spouse, and that it is so hard to wait, and could He please bring along someone before we turn 70? He knows the road of singleness and chastity is a hard path indeed, because He trod it Himself. No one was more lonely in His life than Our Lord. No one longed more to have someone understand Him and enter into His life and heart than Jesus, who came into His Own who received Him not, who had nary a place to rest His Sacred Head, who sweated blood in the Garden of Olives alone while His so-called friends slumbered. No one understands loneliness and longing for companionship more than Christ. Are we not perfect for each other, then? Can we not enter into a beautiful communion with Him now that, in this period of our single lives, we have no man (or woman) between Him and ourselves?
Marriage and holy sex are good, God-given things, so we certainly aren’t doing wrong by actively seeking them out and praying for God to bestow them upon us. However, it is possible to seek something good in the wrong way, that is, in a way that causes us to lose our peace. If all we can think about is getting married, if we obsess over how lonely we are, if we let our desires for love and marriage disturb our peace of soul, then we are seeking our vocation in a way that is not of God. We should never let anything, even our desires for good things, take away our peace. Our souls are like lakes. If we are peaceful, serene, and calm, then God’s love and wisdom can reflect off our waters like the sun. If, however, we are tempestuous, ridden with angst, blown asunder by the storms of life, then God’s love and grace will not be able to calm us.
Do what you can, within reason, to seek marriage. There is a fine balance between waiting for God to send that special someone into your life and actively seeking your vocation. On one hand, we can become passive and before we know it, we’re 45 and still single. On the other hand, we can become obsessed with finding the right mate, spend copious amounts of time online and money on dates, trying to fill the hole in our hearts that no one can fill but God. Most of us have probably been at both ends of the spectrum at one time or another. Seek your vocation, pray for your future spouse daily, but don’t forget to have a life.
Finally, give yourself time to grieve from any past failed relationships. Don’t shove your very real emotions and needs under the rug. If you are lonely, if you are feeling hopeless, if you are becoming borderline desperate, acknowledge that. It’s OK. You are human, and humans feel things. Give these emotions to God as many times a day as you need to. Even Jesus cried out in His despair from the Cross. King David wrote hundreds of Psalms pouring out his emotions to the Lord.
The cross of singleness is a heavy one, but Our Lord carried it first.