Did I catch your attention?
You might be reading this and you may have already found ~the one~. You might be dating someone with the intention of marriage, but perhaps it hasn't come up yet. You might be single and ask, "Then how else will I find him?"
No matter where you are in this timeline of vocation, I urge you to stop looking, seeking, and chasing. And even if you are with the one already, or even engaged to them, this still applies to you.
You might now ask, what is this very single lady talking about?
A few months ago, a dear friend shared with me a truism that changed my life and my approach to the vocation of marriage, and that is this: "Stop looking for your husband. Instead, look for your bridesmaids."
Now of course, this entire statement presupposes that God has called you to the vocation of marriage. But even for those who are called to religious life or the single life, there is a deeper truth here, and that is fellowship and sisterhood. For those who are called to marriage, however, this statement is incredibly important.
First, a little background. I dated a lot growing up and have been in and out of relationships. It wasn't until 2019 when I even gave religious life a chance, and it was then that I committed to a personal 6-month dating fast that culminated in a come and see retreat with the Daughters of St. Paul. And while I'm not discerning religious life at the moment, I had a change of heart towards my disposition towards marriage and the friendships that I had.
As I reflected on this statement, I thought long and hard about who I would have in my bridal party, if God were to bless me with a spouse. My two younger sisters were a given in my mind; it was non-negotiable. But beyond that, I started to ask myself many questions. Did I have friends? Did anyone even like me? Where did my friends go? Why couldn't I think of literally anyone else?
I was certain that I had friends in my midst. I definitely had friends who were guys, which has been pretty consistent throughout my life. In terms of female friends, I was certain that I had women in my life whom I trusted. But as I grew and changed, relationships came and went. I suddenly found myself in a period of my life where I seriously questioned where I placed my relationships with other women. It was in a lot of prayer where I came to the realization that I had taken this idea of sisterhood for granted.
Like any relationship, you need to put time and energy into it. I knew a lot of women, but how many did I actually and truly invest in as a sister? How much did I open myself up to be loved by them?
Ironically, I only really came to grips with this concept when I was at the convent. For the first time in a long time, I was with women who saw and knew their own worth as daughters of the King. They were confident in their purpose. They had great fellowship with their fellow sisters. And it became clear that these were things that I struggled with.
It also became clear that I spent a lot of time looking for my future husband. This is evident in my dating history: regardless of how intentional I led myself to think or believe, I look back and dispute myself. I would look and try to make myself appealing for potential dates when really I should be taking the time to pour into strong female relationships.
This isn't to say that the end goal and purpose of all female friendships is to screen for how suitable of a bridesmaid they would be. But regardless of what vocation you are called to and what stage of your life you are in, you will always need strong female relationships to help you grow in your relationship with the Lord. There is something about the feminine heart that craves relationship and is receptive to the needs of others. We thrive when we are united in our feminine genius and when we build each other up. Of course we can be strong in our relationships with males, but the experience of a women can only be understood by women. Growing in our relationships with other women allow us to grow as strong women of God too.
As I reflect more on this, I am confident knowing that I do have women in my midst whom I trust and care deeply for, and I hope that they feel the same towards me. But it has been a good exercise in priorities and also trusting that God's plan is good. If I really am called to marriage, He might be taking this time of singlehood to prepare me and nurture me, and help me to nurture the relationships that I might lack in my life at the moment. Am I idolizing the happily ever after before I'm even ready for it? Or am I taking the necessary steps to build up my own feminine genius and personal community up first?
So whenever you feel irritated at your singleness, take the time to think instead of the women in your life. Who would you ask to be your bridesmaids? Who's relationships or marriages do you admire, and why? I encourage you to journal them or write it down somewhere where you can look back on them in times of discouragement or desolation.
To strengthening our feminine hearts,
Looking for a podcast episode to supplement this blog post? Let me recommend my conversation with Camille Mendoza, where we talk about the vocation and sacrament of marriage!