“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” — 2 Peter 3:9
Recently, I made the decision to pursue intentional singlehood.
As a young, single woman in the world today, the choice is a bit unorthodox. My chosen pursuit of remaining single and not dating came as a surprise to many. Many people tried to understand what that means and what the purpose of this was.
I was (and probably still am) a little boy-crazy. I desired nothing more than to have the attention and affection of someone who wanted to love me in the same way I loved them. I wanted someone to spend time with me, call me by sweet nicknames and eventually get married and start a family together.
A lot of my friends found wonderful people to date and call their own, and it seemed like an easy enough task.
My dating experience reflected a very different reality. It also highlighted a very dangerous habit that I was developing.
In the time that I dated people or developed feelings for people, the infatuation was usually very surface level. There were no clear boundaries drawn and I lost sight of my identity and who I was. In these relationships, I placed my identity in the hands of my relationships and their success. If I was with someone, I would be happy and successful.
This led to a lot of frustration and anxiety on my part when I found that things weren’t going exactly to plan. With every break up, I felt my own view of myself slip lower and lower.
At the end of my last relationship last August, I found myself in deeper depression and anxiety than I had felt before. It seemed to me that I wasn’t worthy of love and people — especially men — couldn’t love me for me.
In the months since, I’ve had the opportunity to go on a mission, in all senses of the word. I went on mission to Panama to share my faith. I had my own faith nourished and replenished at conferences. I dove into my prayer life through intense prayer and little daily sacrifices.
One of my prayers through the past few months was clarification of vocation. I wanted answers, and being a somewhat impatient person, I wanted the answers quick and fast. What I learned through this process was that God provides clarity, but the answers take time to develop. His plan takes time.
In talking to trusted spiritual advisors, prayer and self-reflection, it became clear to me that I put so much attention and pressure on the parts of my identity that didn’t matter. I was dating, but for all the wrong reasons. I thought that I was doing the holy thing by dating and trying to find people who were right for me. But quickly this dating wasn’t for the purposes of marriage — it was to avoid the social anxiety that came with being alone.
God pursued my heart and helped to break my walls down and I began to feel more comfortable with myself. Singlehood and everything that it came with is also a gift. It is not better than marriage, but different and special in their own way.
So with God’s help, I found myself sitting at the dinner table with my family and sharing this desire to be intentionally single for the next year as I listen to God’s call in my life. I also wanted to take some time discern religious life.
I had that conversation about two months ago now, and in this short amount of time I learned so much about myself and true femininity. I’ve had many encounters with religious sisters and nuns as well as other young women who currently are discerning their own calls from God.
What became super eye-opening for me was this confidence that these women exuded. These religious sisters and nuns were true brides of Christ. Those who were discerning and preparing to enter into the convent were like the fiancées of Christ! And there was something about their confidence, joy, and peace that was both confusing and attractive. I desired to find that same joy in understanding my true identity as a daughter of the Risen Lord the way that these women had found it in their call. Their lives might change in an instant, but one thing would always remain: the love that God has for His daughters is unwavering. Nothing can take that away from them.
So in the present moment, my mission in this period of intentional singlehood is to return back to that true identity.
I don’t know what God has in store for me. Perhaps I will receive the call of religious life and find myself at the altar before Jesus as His spouse. Or maybe God will reveal to me my husband in a really romantic encounter (take note, God!). Regardless of where He calls me and what His plan is for me, I know that it requires patience and endurance in waiting on His promise.
He is purifying me and helping me to see my worth and beauty. How is He helping you see yours?
In trusting in God’s plan,