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Beating the single Catholic blues

Emily Stimpson

Why am I still single?

That’s a question a whole lot of us Catholic girls and boys find ourselves asking these days.

The plan, our plan, was always marriage and babies. But God hasn’t gotten the memo yet. Which leaves those of us who still believe we’re called to marriage trying to make sense of our prolonged singleness, not to mention striving to understand how we’re supposed to live in the gap between college and “I do.”

It’s confusing. It’s frustrating. And sometimes it just plain hurts.

So what’s a good Catholic single to do? Give in to the culture? Give up on our heart’s desires?

Buy lots and lots of cats?

No. No. A hundred times no.

Just try these tips instead.

1. Remember, It’s Not You

Okay, maybe it is. Maybe you have some deep-seeded issue preventing you from recognizing or committing to the person God has for you. Chances are, however, you’re still single for the same reason most of us are:

We’re Catholic and the culture is not.

The sexual revolution, divorce, abortion, contraception, pornography, cohabitation, even serial dating have left countless potential mates wounded and in need of healing. Others want and expect things from us that we cannot and must not give. The pool of eligible spouses is small, which leaves many of us single later—maybe much later—than we’d like.

But your unwillingness to widen that pool by turning your back on God and compromising on what you know to be true doesn’t mean something’s wrong with you. It means something’s right.

2. Seize the Day

The single years aren’t always a walk in the park. But they do come with certain perks and opportunities. Don’t let those perks and opportunities pass you by.

At night, read by the fireside. Buy season tickets to the ballet or symphony. Go on that missionary trip to China. Open the brewhouse of your dreams. Finish that masters in theology.

As your married friends will tell you, your time for most of these adventures is limited. Embarking on them now, however, tempers depression in the short-term and enriches life in the long-term. You see more and learn more. You grow more. And who knows? Maybe in some mission church in China, you’ll meet your future spouse.

3. Make a Gift of Yourself

 All of us—single or otherwise—are under orders from God to give ourselves away in love. See Matthew 10:39: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” 

 So lose your life. Give it away. Volunteer at the local crisis pregnancy center. Sing in the Church choir. Teach CCD. Feed the homeless. Take a meal to new mom. Make a holy hour for the singles you know. Just smile at the crabby clerk in the grocery store.

Whatever you do, do it often and do it gladly. God, after all, loves a cheerful giver. Accordingly, the more cheerfully you give yourself away, the more joy God gives back to you.

4. Count Your Blessings

Literally. Write them down. Tick them off on your fingers. Use an abacus. Enumerate them however you like, just count them…all of them. Your mind, your health, your strength, your friends, your faith, your beauty, your smile, your talents, your job, your lack of job, your great family, your crazy family, blue skies, green grass, hot coffee, strong whiskey, cashmere sweaters, fat babies, broccoli, old doors, new plumbing—whatever it is that floats your boat put it on the list. Then bless God for it. Tell him you see his goodness in all these things, and ask for the grace to see it in your singleness as well. Chances are, by the time you’re done counting, you will.

5. Hang Out With Jesus

Why? Because he loves you and wants only the best for you. He’s not surprised you’re single. He saw this day coming from all eternity. He’s accounted for it. He’s providing for you through it. And as long as your singleness lasts, he will continue to provide. So go to him, daily: in the Eucharist, in Confession, in Adoration, in his Word, and in prayer. Being in his presence reminds you of his love. It also can remind you of how much you love him, and how your deepest desire is not for a spouse, but rather to do his will.

6. Hope Always

There comes a time in almost every single Catholic’s life when we’ve had enough—enough dating, enough disappointment, enough bad endings. No matter how good we’ve been and no matter how hard we’ve prayed, it never seems to work out. So we contemplate giving up.

Bad idea.

 If you truly believe you’re called to marriage, you can’t throw in the towel. You have to put yourself out there, and you have to leave yourself open—to getting hurt, yes, but also to being surprised by some totally unexpected, totally perfect gift from God. 

 And it’s never too late for him to send you that gift. Never.

Topics: Culture , Dating , Faith , Friendship , Personal Growth , Service , Young Women

Emily Stimpson is a contributing editor to Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly and the author of “The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years.” (Emmaus Road, 2012)  She lives in Steubenville , Ohio, and blogs at CatholicVote.org.

View all articles by Emily Stimpson

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