Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Romantic Disappointments

I know I'm notoriously private about my love life (friends like to joke that I'll probably be married before they find out there's even a guy in my life) but I've been inspired to write about romantic disappointments because I feel like it's not talked about enough. Yes, we occasionally hear about it from a married blogger but rarely do we hear about it from a still single gal. This is fairly new territory for me so please forgive me if I stumble along the way.

The one thing that stuck out for me last night (when I had this sudden inspiration to write this post) is that, though the disappointment in the romance department stinks, when you leave your vocation up to God, it stings a lot less. Instead of lamenting over what happens (or doesn't happen), I turn to God and thank Him for the learning experience and pray for the other person involved. Now, let me tell you that I would've never gotten to this place if I hadn't had years of learning to do.

I am a little ashamed to admit this but my first experience praying for a significant other (when I was 17) left me not wanting to pray for years. I was a selfish, immature teenager who prayed that a rocky relationship would mend... only to have it end a week later. I was put off. "I prayed for this to get better, not to end!" I griped. I didn't understand that when we pray, we're asking God to please help us with something which may or may not be a part of His will for us. If it's not, our prayers will be answered in ways that we may not want but need. I had been poorly catechized, I was away from the Church, and didn't know or love God the way I do now. Later on, his young man revealed his true colors and he earned the nickname "poopy diaper" (did I mention I was immature at 17?) amongst my friends. Dodged that bullet... but it took me years to realize this.

Fast-forward 6-7 years later... When I was in my early 20s (and in the early days of my reversion), I met a young man who ended up helping me leave my immature ways behind. See, I was terribly selfish in my relationships up until I met him. When I prayed for someone, it was always that I ended up getting what I wanted. "Please let him be for me," I would say. With this young man that I befriended, it changed. 

I knew, early on, that he was open to being called to the priesthood. Though he was not the first guy I'd been interested in who was open to the vocation, he was the first whom I prayed that God would show him his vocation. Instead of "Lord, please let him like me," my prayers became "Lord, please help him figure out what his vocation is supposed to be. If it's with someone else, please bring a good woman into his life. If it's to the priesthood, please guide him. If it's to the single life, please let him see that." It was not about me and my happiness... it became about him and his doing God's will. Not only that, my prayers also became "Please help me figure out my vocation. If I'm meant to marry and have children, please help me learn to be the best wife and mother possible."

My feelings for this young man lasted for about 5 years, on and off. Cue surprise and shock from a majority of my friends (my best friends knew my feelings but not the depths of them which, for obvious reasons, I won't get into). After countless novenas and prayers for him, he finally entered the seminary last year. The day he entered was bittersweet. I was both incredibly proud of him and excited to see him embark on his new journey, yet I couldn't help feeling a little sad.

Was I disappointed that years of feelings ended up the way it did? Honestly? Yes and no. Yes, because I had asked God (for several years) that the feelings I had for him would go away if nothing was to come from them... and they didn't. In fact, I spent an entire evening/night having a "why did You not take these feelings away from me like I had asked? Why make me go through this? Please help me understand what the point of me going through this was..." conversation with God shortly before my friend entered seminary. No, because I knew that he would be discerning the priesthood and because, looking back, I know that it's thanks to him that I was able to mature and, in a way, get closer to God. Isn't that what a good priest does? Inspire those around him to get closer to God? ;) 

I'm grateful for having this experience for several reasons. My feelings for this friend popped up right before my father passed away. I think that helped me have some sort of sense of normalcy and balance in my life when everything else had collapsed around me. (side note: I should state that he is NOT the inspiration for Will in the novels; Will was entirely made up in my mind.) I ended up discerning (and re-discerning) my vocation during this period. It became clear to me that my vocation is of future wife and mama. All those chick flick and Disney-fueled notions of what love was supposed to be were replaced by my love for God (as much as I can love Him with my very limited, human understanding of love) and my understanding of what the vocation of marriage truly is. I've also come to believe that my feelings might've been given to me because my friend needed all the prayers he could get while he discerned entering seminary. He still gets them even though the feelings have gone. ;)

Being practical, I never really allowed myself to envision a relationship with my friend. To quote Jane Austen, "a lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment." I didn't do that. I refused to. Why? Because the disappointment would've hurt more. Recently, I had another disappointment in the relationship department but, having learned to trust God with my vocation, I automatically prayed for the young man and thanked Him for the experience. Again, I refused to think about the "what ifs" and tried to be practical and discern things. It saved me from heartache and I am grateful for it.

I wanted to share this because I feel like there's too many people who a) lament about being single to the point where it drives people crazy, b) who don't pray for their future spouse, and c) who don't trust God with their vocations. I pray for my future husband, whomever he may be, on a regular basis. As I wrote on St. Joseph's feast day, I've learned to let go and trust God with my vocation. While I do feel broody when I see pictures of my friends' babies and while single gal pains do pop up when I get news of engagements and upcoming marriages, I'm also reminded that every romantic disappointment that I've had has led me closer to God... and has prepared me for my future spouse.

One more thing: it's very easy to be fooled by feelings. We may feel like this person may be "it" or "the one" for us, but we have to remember that feelings are fleeting and often deceiving. That's something I've learned through the years. Instead of letting yourself get carried away with whatever feelings may have, pray that God helps you discern them. If you're feeling down about being single, pray for your future spouse. Have feelings for someone? Pray for them, for their vocation, and for yourself and your vocation... but don't let the prayers become "please, let him be for me." Trust God. If something doesn't work out, it's because He has something better in store for you. Yes, so cliché to say but it's cliché for a reason. Yes, the disappointment of failed relationships and crushes is going to stink but it's better to do His will than chase after earthly "happiness" that could pull us away from God.

I don't think I'm going to write something like this again for a long time (hello, notoriously private over here) but I felt inspired to write this while I prayed last night. I hope that it helps at least one person who may be struggling with something similar. OH! And, for the record, I'm not saying that this is how it's supposed to be; I'm sharing my experiences and my thoughts and ideas. I'll get back to y'all after I read Three to Get Married by Ven. Fulton Sheen if need to tweak some of my ideas. ;)

Anyway, that's it for now. My best friend is coming to visit in two weeks so I need to go narrow down the list of things we can do while she's here. Yes, I need two weeks to figure things out. What? L.A. is a big, spread out city and I want to make the most out of the time she's here! ;)

I hope y'all are having a great week thus far!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

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