My heart can still feel the ache of singleness. My eyes well up with tears, and I feel the pain of what used to be. It was a long road of sadness, anger, uncertainty, and loneliness. It seemed like I was always discerning God’s will and discovering more about who I was becoming. There were blessings of joy and beauty. For 16 years I longed to have my deepest desire filled. In college, I cried with friends telling them of this ache. I have journals with pages of sorrow. There have been so many prayers.
Unless you’ve traveled the road of singleness for quite some time, it may be hard to truly understand what it is like. It was never about just getting married or going with what I just wanted. It was about what God wanted for my life. Coming to realize that is one thing. It’s another to want what God wants and to embrace it with joy!
I prayed often for God to take my desire for marriage away until the time was right. It hurt to have such deep desires with nowhere to go with them, especially when I believed they were from God Himself. I prayed for my heart’s desires to be His desires. I laid down my desire for marriage time and time again. This all took place during dating, break-ups, and singleness.
I discerned if marriage was the vocation God was calling me to. I have always enjoyed Mass and sharing the Gospel message. Parts of religious life are very beautiful, but I didn’t feel a call to that life. Was the single-life for me? I enjoyed many parts to that life, and I served God faithfully. What about marriage? Little-by-little, I laid my will for marriage down and focused on becoming a happy, healthy woman. Laying my life and future down to the Lord (completely) was one of my most painful experiences.
I always say that once we make a decision after discerning for some time, God brings peace. Once I surrendered, I learned that what will be, will be when it will be. I embraced each day being present in it, rather than living in the past or in the future. We aren’t truly living if we’re not in the present. When I got busy living, I wasn’t so focused on what I thought was missing from my life. Instead I was busy being happy and growing in so many ways.
I started taking care of myself by putting things into my life that made me my best self. I also took things out. I learned to move on from a relationship that was never going to bring marriage. I learned to love again, but guarded and with confidence in who I was becoming. I discovered how to be ok with alone time and then eventually I embraced it. I ate right and exercised. I learned what a healthy dating relationship was. I balanced my personal time and work time better. There were weekly goals I set that focused on building confidence. I said good-bye to men that brought me extreme joy and frustration, because they were not God’s plan for me. I turned down a wedding proposal and a future seeing a clear vision of who my husband should be. I closed a chapter in my life with someone who was “perfect,” but couldn’t love me according to God’s plan for marriage.
I’ve been working on embracing life and God’s plans for my vocation since 2011. I looked at it as a mountain climb. In order to get to the top, I had to go through the tough stuff – the healing, forgiving myself and others, taking new risks while being afraid, moving on, letting go, laying my life down and trusting God. I realized that I couldn’t skip or take shortcuts to get to where I was going. As Robert Frost said “The best way out is always through.”
I love the person I became and the person I am becoming as a result of the “going through” and embracing God’s plan for me each day. Hard? Yes, but worth it.
A Practical Note:
Please pray for the single and the pain they suffer. If you ever need to offer words to someone struggling with their state of single life, it’s always best to walk with them rather than give advice. There is so much bad “words of wisdom.” Be there. Listen. Offer an “I’m sorry you’re hurting and going through this.” Pray with and for them.