I have always felt that God has one person in mind for me and He will make sure I meet that person. But I am now 38 years old and Mr. Right has still not come along. Am I wrong to believe God has a hand in bringing me the person He wants me to be with?
No, you are not wrong to believe that. God is always involved with all aspects of our lives. It's no different with the vocation to marriage. He influences the people we will come into contact with and how we come into contact. God does help with finding a suitable partner. In fact, we say in the marriage ceremony "What God has brought together, let no man put asunder."
But all too often, we human beings have a tendency toward self-destructive tendencies. In other words, we do stupid things. Unwise actions and decisions (or lack of making decisions at all) affect the vocation to marriage we are called to, just as these would affect any other important part of our lives. This happens because of selfishness. We want what we want. But what does God want? If He wants us married, then He wants to help make that happen, and wants it to happen sooner rather than later.
God does NOT have one set person for us to marry. Rather, He influences our coming into contact with potentially suitable partners. We must have our senses and our hearts open to who these potential future spouses are, and take the actions necessary to discovering which is the one that the mystery of love will work in our hearts. How God brings two specific people together is a mystery. But we are very much involved, and it is ultimately our decision.
The free-will consent of both persons to each other on the day of the wedding is what confects the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. The "free will" means it is our choice, and God then blesses the decision. In this decision is also the forsaking of all others. That means there could have been someone else, but this is your choice for the rest of your life.
It's a mystery how God is both an influence and also a spectator. He is very much involved in helping you find someone, but He awaits the decision of the two he has helped. Therefore, unfortunately, it does happen that, because of free will, two people that God helped do NOT come together in marriage. Is this the end for either? No! God continues to work because the vocational call is too important. There can be someone else willing to make that commitment (free-will consent) to love for a lifetime.
As long as there is free will, there will always be marriages that do not happen that should have. I do personally believe that a person can miss out on their best hope for marriage by their free-will decision in the past to say no to someone who was a good, suitable partner. It does not mean it is over, it just means it might become that much more difficult, or might take longer than we hope, etc.
God is not going to just send someone "despite" our efforts, but rather in "conjunction" with our efforts. We have to get into environments that make sense for meeting good, single Catholics. Otherwise, God's job is much harder. It's not impossible, but it is harder. For example, if you live in an area where there are hardly any Catholics, and you are unwilling to move or unwilling to travel to meet someone, then you are forcing God to perform a miracle. We have to do our part. God helps those who help themselves.
Let us not blame God for not bringing us "the one". It is probably our own fault, whether it is because we are too busy to make time for dating, or our expectations are too high, or we want everything to be perfect, or we want marriage on our own terms and time frame. If you are to be married, then you have to get on with it, and do whatever is necessary to find a suitable partner.
Start by realizing there are many people out there who will make a wonderful (and suitable) marriage partner for the purposes of marriage; namely, mutual love and bringing children into the world for God's glory. God is not completely absent from this process either, so know that God is always the one who brings people into your life. Pay attention to who comes along. Don't discount people quickly. Be ready to open your heart to a good man or good woman. Don't pass up on a good one just because you think someone better might be out there. Get your parents involved, too. They can tell if you are with the right or wrong person. More times than not, a parent ends up saying, "What was wrong with that one?" because their child just broke up with someone who was wonderful and for seemingly no good reason. It was probably a dumb reason, too.
Today, you need to be "heroic" in your efforts. These are not easy times to be single and Catholic. Finding a suitable partner might be costly (in the time commitment as well as financially). But it is all worth it in the end when you are loving one person and know you are doing what God wants you to be doing.
Anthony Buono is the founder of Avemariasingles.com. For thousands of Catholic singles, Anthony offers guidance, humor, understanding, and practical relationship advice. Visit his blog at 6stonejars.com.
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.