What does it mean to wait well?
As a result of living abroad during grade school, I graduated from college when I was twenty years old. This meant that when I joined the Catholic young adult group in my diocese post-graduation, I was a couple of years younger than most who attended.
Maybe it was because of this that I was caught off guard when I first joined by how absolutely focused the women who attended were on dating: finding a man, finding the man, getting married. The men might have been as well, I’m not sure because I didn’t talk to them one-on-one nearly as much.
I have to admit, I was somewhat flummoxed as I watched these beautiful, interesting, capable women agonize over the seemingly oblivious young men who just wanted to find community and read the Bible. At the time, I didn’t understand the strength of their desire to get married, the impatience, the debilitating fear: what if there’s no one out there for me?
Funnily enough, it only took a couple of years for me to feel the same way. I was tired of being single. I had been through my share of bad breakups and did not want to experience another one. I felt ready for my vocation and was worried my time would never come. I prayed, begged, negotiated, and despaired.
As the title gives away, my time did eventually come. I did meet the guy. I did get married. And all the Saints in Heaven are no longer subject to my frequent and dramatic pleas for a husband.
I am so incredibly grateful for my husband. Family life is a beautiful blessing that should not be understated or taken for granted. But as I look back, I do wish I had handled things a little differently leading up to this wonderful season. So if you’re in a season of waiting, keep these things in mind when you feel overwhelmed by the uncertainty, or discouraged in your dreams of marriage and family.
1. You only get one life
I hate to say it because it sounds so trite. But here’s the deal, it’s true. This is your only life and it is just too precious to spend wishing any part of it away. I know that being single is hard. Your desire for married life is good. Trying to push it down or numb it is not the answer. But neither is moping around until you get it, or making that your sole focus in life.
Dive into your interests. If you don’t have any, find one. Challenge yourself: run a race, start a social media page about something you’re passionate about, read a long book, learn a new skill or pick up an old one… be the person you want to marry (interesting, driven, loving, passionate…fill in the blank).
Travel (even if it’s just locally), spend time with your friends and family—these things get harder once you are married. Singlehood can be a fun, fruitful season—even amidst the difficulty. Most importantly, seek God. This sounds cliché, but it’s too important not to reiterate. Go to Mass and Adoration as frequently as possible. The more virtuous you are, the easier marriage will be—trust me.
2. Married life won’t solve your problems
Singlehood can be an incredible opportunity for growth. If you have anxiety, or wrestle with depression, or body image troubles, or health problems…marriage typically doesn’t solve them. It might help with the symptoms in the short-term, but the more you can confront these areas of improvement beforehand, the better off your marriage will be.
To be clear: I’m not saying you have to be perfect in order to get married or meet the right person. That would be wildly hypocritical of me. However, I am grateful I went to therapy for years before getting married. It has helped my marriage tremendously.
3. You are responsible for your happiness
This one especially hit home for me as my husband is in the military and gone for months at a time. If my happiness depended on him and his presence those months would be not just hard, but impossible. Instead I make as much of an effort as I can to pour myself into my faith, my daughter, my friends and family, self-growth, and the work I’m passionate about when he is not around.
If you are unhappy now, marriage won’t make you happy. It might temporarily mask or alleviate your unhappiness, but it isn’t your spouse’s responsibility to be the source of your joy and he or she won’t be able to carry that weight. Take a look at the things I mentioned above (faith, friends, family, self-growth, work) and ask yourself how you are doing in each area. Whichever one needs the most growth, start with something small today.
4. Trust the process
If you’re like me and the whole ‘trust God’ thing doesn’t come naturally to you, or even seem like a remotely appealing course of action, try this: trust Him with the smallest things first.
Example: You’re hosting some people over and want it to go well. Or you slept through your alarm and now are running late to class. Or you’re going on a date and feeling nervous…anytime one of these small difficulties comes up, take a breath and say, “Lord Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Please take care of everything.”
Essentially, the more you start small with trust—and practice—the easier it will be with the big things—like your vocation.
Waiting well isn’t easy, but neither is marriage. The more you can lean into this season instead of fighting it, the more you will get out of it and the more prepared you will be when the right person finally comes along. God has something planned for you, something for your good—even in this time of in-between. Give thanks and search for the graces He has waiting for you at this very moment.