Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and [the disciples] woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” - Mark 4:38
Have you ever prayed to God for something you desire with all your heart? Have you ever waited on God and it seems as if He is taking His time? I have. Like the disciples on the sinking boat so is the story of my love life.
I want to have a marriage and family. I want a partner in life, not a hookup, a convenient call, or friends with benefits. I’m tired of men who say “we’re talking,” but never define the relationship. Society sometimes deem that being single is “The Life” - you get to do whatever you want and go out. There is some truth to it. Yet there is also something so beautiful in the sacrament of marriage that attracts me. It is not only about the commitment of a shared life but also how that love can reflect God’s love for us.
Over the past few years, I put many checkmarks next to Destiny Child's "Independent Woman" song. The shoes on my feet, I've bought it. The clothes I'm wearing, I've bought it. The car I'm driving, I've bought it. They are all good things and I am grateful for them. But at the same time, singlehood feels like a toothache for me. Small yet the discomfort and/or pain can be so distracting. When attending weddings alone, my heart feels as if I am left in a "hood." My married friends are on a one-way ticket uptown and never looking back.
I rejoice for my friends, but my relationship with them changes once they are married. We no longer go out like we used to and they have more in common with their new parent friends. It also seems to me that there is an engagement announcement on social media every weekend. I started asking God, “Did you forget about me? You seem to remember my friends...but wait, did the devil delete my name from your spreadsheet?!? Am I even on your list, God? Have you forgotten me?”
I struggle with uncertainty and God’s timing. I like to predict, anticipate, and control. I like to plan. I feel that if God can give me the dreams and/or desires, I want to do everything I can to execute ASAP. I ask Him, “Why do things have to be so hard? Why does Your timing take forever? If the desire for marriage is supposedly good, why do You allow my relationships to go in circles?”
My head understands there is a season for everything under the heavens, God has my best interest at heart, and everything happens for a reason. Leading youth groups in the past, my head knows that “God’s plans are to give me a future and a hope” and that “His grace is sufficient for His power is made perfect in weakness.” My mind knows it and my heart is still catching up.
A few years ago, I thought I met “The One.” He was good looking, 6’2”, Catholic, athletic, highly educated, and spoke several languages. He was Prince Charming personified. We even met on the Feast Day of the Holy Rosary because he sat next to me at Mass! I thought it was a God-given Catholic Hallmark love story for me. I remember how I used to have heated arguments with my father about how wives should not submit themselves to their husbands. And there I was calling my parents about how much I respect and admire this man. I was head over heels in love and I lost myself. A year later, he finished his studies in the U.S. and went home. We gradually stopped communicating and I was devastated. I did everything I could to make it work until it was clear that it was time for me to let go. It was difficult. At first I “let go and let God” with the hope that God would make things right. Later I learned that letting go means “let go” and letting God means “let God.”
I grew weary with my new reality and started losing hope. I pressed the panic button on God because I reached my self-imposed timeline where I thought I would no longer be single. I am done asking if my Mr. Right is one of my friends or if he is someone I have yet to meet. I am done analyzing what daily “good morning” texts and 2-hour Skype conversations could mean. I am tired of putting so much effort to becoming Miss Right because I know I cannot make a strategic plan and make love work. What works in business does not necessarily work in romantic relationships. I discovered that love, in order to be genuine, must be given and received freely. There is no microwave, instant, or magic formula for love. Cynicism can be a bandaid so I will not be disappointed but it drains my spirit, vitality, strength, and zest for life.
A wise priest once told me that my walk with the Lord can be messy but it’s okay, because it is real. In the unexpected storms of life, God is extending His hands to me so that I can learn what it means to have faith in the Living God. Not only in theory, but in practice. Perhaps a season of loneliness and transformation are different sides of the same coin. To think about it, this quiet season in my life allows me to think more about the fact that even though my heart was broken, I am still beloved and blessed so I can give myself to others. Jesus himself showed us how it’s done as He broke bread and gave us the gift of Himself. Perhaps this is the season where God is teaching me how to pray, leave my subtle selfishness behind, and give myself to the Lord in joyful surrender and quiet trust. Perhaps Pope Francis is right — prayer is not “a means of devotion for obtaining useful things from God” but prayer in itself is a recipe for joy.