Wait On The Gift


Wait On The Gift

I gave a talk at a singles’ conference last weekend. I love singles’ conferences. There’s just something about seeing so many of you all together in one place – when I know that many of you feel isolated out there in the “real world” – that is very gratifying.

Anyway, at this conference, my talk was supposed to be on “living the single live to its maximum potential.” There could be all kinds of innocuous ways to approach that – you know, “do lots of good deeds,” “don’t forget to pray.” That kind of stuff. But I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to find a way to go a little deeper, to address something that really hit Catholic singles where they live.

Then I remembered an online singles’ class I taught several years ago. (Important note: if you are one of the singles who actually took that class, please contact me. When my computer was stolen I lost all of my outlines and notes from the class, and I’d love to rebuild what I can from the students’ notes.) In that class, we had an extensive discussion on the question of “to seek or not to seek?” In other words, should single Catholics organize their lives primarily around finding eligible members of the opposite sex? Or should they go about their business, doing what they believed God was calling them to do, even if doesn’t seem like it’ll lead them to anyone marriageable?

My initial reaction was to say that single Catholics, if they felt called to marriage, should order their lives around finding a spouse. After all, if you wanted a job, you’d go out looking for one. You wouldn’t sit around and wait for God to drop one into your lap. Shouldn’t marriage be the same way?

But then I remembered a line from John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. God had created Adam and given him all of the good things of paradise, but then observed that it was not good for man to be alone. He was created to give himself in love to another human person, but there was no other human person to whom he could give himself. God said He would create a helper fit for him.

At this point, JPII said, “Adam waited on the gift.”

Adam was in a bit of a pickle. He was created for love, but there was no one on earth for him to love. And there wasn’t a danged thing he could do about it. He could only wait for God to act, wait for him to create “the gift” of Eve.

How many of you have ever felt like Adam? You believe you’re called to marriage, you organize every detail of your life around finding someone to share your live with, and yet no one has emerged. You want to “make” it happen, but you find that you can’t.

Some people do “make” it happen. They lower their standards. They talk themselves into marrying someone they know isn’t right for them. You could do that too, but somehow it doesn’t seem right.

Maybe we too, in a certain sense, need to “wait on the gift.”

That, of course, doesn’t mean we sit back and do nothing. We give God room to work. We post our profiles on Catholic Match. We put on some mascara (those of us who are female) and go out every once in a while. We work on ourselves – staying healthy and holy, and working out (with the help of good therapy where necessary) whatever issues we’re carrying around.

But we don’t make every decision in our lives based on “will I meet someone to marry?”

Case in point: many, many years ago, I became very enthused about attending the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. But at that time, the only program was in Rome. I told myself that I couldn’t go because I didn’t speak Italian. Which was mostly true – my childhood Italian vocabulary revolves mostly around eating, and doesn’t include many theological terms. But I could have learned Italian. My silent objection was that I wouldn’t be running across many, if any, marriageable American men over there on the other side of the pond.

Of course, they opened an American campus and I got my degree just fine right here in the good old U.S. of A, where I also didn’t meet any men I wanted to marry. And I missed out on a great experience.

Has this happened to you? Have you missed out on great experiences, missed out on something God was calling you to, because you were holding onto your all-encompassing goal of marrying yourself off?

Do you get involved only in activities and organizations that you think will lead you to marriage? Do you attend the parish singles group once, look around the room, say “no one here for me to marry” and never return? (An unfortunate decision, since there is a good chance that a perfectly marriageable person showed up the next week, looked around the room once and never came back.)

I know, you keep hearing other peoples’ stories. “Oh, we met in church. I was just kneeling there praying and suddenly there he was.” And you think, “What, has God forgotten about me? I pray in church all the time and that never happens to me!”

The thing is, God hasn’t forgotten about any of us. He gives us lots and lots of gifts. Friendship, health, family, relationships, beautiful views of the Rockies – everything good in our lives is a gift from God. But we can get so hung up on the one gift we’re expecting that we neglect to see all of the good things He’s placed in our lives.

Look, I don’t know if, or when, God is going to provide you with the gift of a spouse. But I do know this – this life isn’t about “what I’m going to do after I’m married.” It’s about “what am I going to do now?” This present moment is the only time we have for sure. How do you want to spend it? Do you want to keep scanning every room looking for the love of your life?

Or do you think it might be a good idea once in a while to walk in anyway, and see what other gifts God might have for you in there?






24 Comments

  1. James-141787 June 2, 2009 Reply

    This is a wonderful statement of the dilemma for today's single Catholics. The "wait" isn't just a few years in one's teens or twenties. It can stretch for decades with no relief in sight, with prime courtship and family building years gone forever. One can't be consumed by looking, and one can't not look either. One must cooperate with Providence and the Holy Spirit, yet it is totally unclear what to do. One hears all the time about other people with a master plan that worked, and yet it isn't your plan that works, it is God's plan. It isn't your time that counts, but God's time. The suffering, frustration, and loneliness that today's long-term singles feel must have some redemptive power, but we won't know it in this life. That's ultimately what the long wait is for.

  2. Helene-78326 June 9, 2009 Reply

    I happen to be at that conference Mary Beth mentioned at the begining of her article. It was my first time attending a Catholic Singles Conference but it sure isn't going to be my last. I enjoyed meeting new people and learning about their stories. One of the highlights was getting to meet Mary Beth…attend her session and get a pic with her.
    Blessings,
    H

  3. Saskia-342357 June 23, 2009 Reply

    I really like what you have to say Debu, that's really beautiful.

  4. Tina-401203 June 28, 2009 Reply

    Thanks for the perspective Mary Beth, this truly hits home with me!

  5. Paul-56203 July 12, 2009 Reply

    Mary Beth,
    "God observed it was not good for man to be alone." (Genesis)
    Great. Nice to hear that. But why are there TOO MANY alone and lonely people in the world today? And it seems like there are more and more every day! Is that part of God's plan? If so, then he is a cruel god to let so many people suffer in loneliness.
    I live in the Northeast and is especially hard to find Catholic single girls here. I am not a handsome nor wealthy fellow, so that makes it even harder.
    I have tried to work with a Catholic Singles group ih the past, but there were not many attending the meetings and it was near impossible to get new members to come.
    I attended several weeks of "Catholicism on Tap" meetings, sponsored at a local Irish bar. I also attendd for several months, a multi-denominational Christan singles meeting. That was a completet waste of time. There were lots of women there, older women, into their fifties and beyond, and absolutely no young women there. Furthermore, the group's leadership did not really work at inviting young women to the singles meetings.
    I have been a part of this website for several years, off and on, and I have found that catholic women are just as shallow and superficial as non-catholic girls.
    If I were to pray to God, I would ask of him that he make young women less motivated to date a man based solely on what he looks like. Beauty, like life, is a transient thing, and no matter what we look like on the outside, we will all beventually become dust.
    I would also ask of God that more women follow Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene as roll models.
    If I were to p;ray to God, I would ask that he make women less shallow and supe

    • Anna-671172 June 9, 2012 Reply

      This is something i came across a few days ago. Sent it to a friend right away and now am posting it for you and all the rest of lonely CMers here. These words had a great effect upon me and hope theyll bring u some comfort. Godbless

      Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone; to have a deep soul relationship with another; to be loved thoroughly and exclusively. But God says, “No, not until you satisfied, fulfilled, and content with being loved by Me alone, and with having intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone, discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found; only then will you be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for you. You will never be united with another until you are united with Me. Exclusive of anyone else, exclusive of any other desires or longings, I want you to stop planning, stop wishing, and allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan existing, one that you cannot imagine. I want you to have the best. Please allow me to bring it to you. You just wait. That’s all. Don’t be anxious. Don’t worry. Don’t look around at the things others have gotten or that I’ve given them. Don’t look at the things you think you want. Just keep looking off and away up to Me or you’ll miss what I want to show you. And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than you could dream of. You see, until you are ready (I am working even at this moment to have both of you ready at the same time), until both of you are satisfied exclusively with Me and the life I have planned for you, you won’t be able to experience the love that exemplifies your relationship with Me; and this perfect love. And, dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love; I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me, and to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting love that I offer you with Myself. Know that I love you utterly. I am God. Believe and be satisfied.”

  6. Allwyn-452965 August 6, 2009 Reply

    I live in Australia and have been divorced and want to meet women who are annulled and willing to marry again.They should be catholics and live life again.

  7. Allwyn-452965 August 7, 2009 Reply

    I lve in australia and would love to meet a catholic lady in Australia who loves to settle down with me.

  8. Carlos-167015 September 4, 2009 Reply

    It was very interesting and admirable what you wrote Thank you! What I still dont understand is how someone can have such a strong desire from the heart to marry and given the history one has had thigs just dont add up. Im 29 and to be honest Ive gone out with many different types of women from different ages both older and younger but I somehow never manage to have a gf. So I feel frustrated because Ive always been myself and think I have lots to offer to a woman but they dont seem to appreciate me or understand me. I just dont make it to the next base. Do you think thats a sign that Im going to be alone the rest of my life? If so thats sad I think. Im a romantic guy and that kind of love I cant give it to anybody else. Am I making any sense with all this? I feel confused.
    Thank you again,

  9. Emily-402892 September 8, 2009 Reply

    Wonderful article! This is exactly what I have been thinking about so much as I ponder where to put my energy– I have been divorced for 3 years and am raising 2 boys. My life is wonderful– great kids, supportive family, fantastic friends, very stable job! The only thing that is missing is a great guy to love. I pray for him– I have dated but continue to seek for that elusive "chemistry" that can't be formulated. Just that missing piece of the pie. I hate the phrase "You complete me!" that is all wrong– I AM complete. Some days I am alone but not lonely, but other days are the opposite– that's when a prayer to God, a phone call to a friend or just a glass of wine is called for. Thanks for putting this problem so well into words. Hopefully there is an "Eve" for every "Adam"!!!

  10. Clem-454111 September 11, 2009 Reply

    I thint since I am in my late fifities, and not married, and tired of of thinking that the right one is aound the corner evey day. t think taht marrage is some thing that is meant for some and not for others, and that God just has other plans for the rest of us. Even thaouh it seems to that I only being human mamage to fail very often with them,

    • Anna-671172 June 9, 2012 Reply

      Cheer up Clem, i came across these lines a few days ago and it helped me see things from a different perspective. God loves you.

      Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone; to have a deep soul relationship with another; to be loved thoroughly and exclusively. But God says, “No, not until you satisfied, fulfilled, and content with being loved by Me alone, and with having intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone, discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found; only then will you be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for you. You will never be united with another until you are united with Me. Exclusive of anyone else, exclusive of any other desires or longings, I want you to stop planning, stop wishing, and allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan existing, one that you cannot imagine. I want you to have the best. Please allow me to bring it to you. You just wait. That’s all. Don’t be anxious. Don’t worry. Don’t look around at the things others have gotten or that I’ve given them. Don’t look at the things you think you want. Just keep looking off and away up to Me or you’ll miss what I want to show you. And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than you could dream of. You see, until you are ready (I am working even at this moment to have both of you ready at the same time), until both of you are satisfied exclusively with Me and the life I have planned for you, you won’t be able to experience the love that exemplifies your relationship with Me; and this perfect love. And, dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love; I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me, and to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting love that I offer you with Myself. Know that I love you utterly. I am God. Believe and be satisfied.”

  11. Pearl-95477 September 14, 2009 Reply

    Clem, i'm right there with you. glad that i've a company in the lonely club. God's punishing me for some reasons i don't understand and do not let me have a married life, family and children raised in a God's house. i ask myself why did i pay for this subscription when i know hope is a spider thread.

    • Anna-671172 June 9, 2012 Reply

      Dear sister in christ, Iv sent this words to clem now am sending them to you. I know its hard, i too felt at times as if Our Heavenly Father was punishing me. Overcoming that feeling was a great challenge but it helped me understand so many things bout love and relationships that now am grateful to be single so i can prepare myself to be a good mother and wife one day. Pearl, enjoy life: travel, go to new places, join prayer groups but do it all for the sole purpose of having fun and grow closer to God. I hope these words iv posted below can b of help. And please, do not doubt God´s love for you. Bless you,

      Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone; to have a deep soul relationship with another; to be loved thoroughly and exclusively. But God says, “No, not until you satisfied, fulfilled, and content with being loved by Me alone, and with having intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone, discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found; only then will you be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for you. You will never be united with another until you are united with Me. Exclusive of anyone else, exclusive of any other desires or longings, I want you to stop planning, stop wishing, and allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan existing, one that you cannot imagine. I want you to have the best. Please allow me to bring it to you. You just wait. That’s all. Don’t be anxious. Don’t worry. Don’t look around at the things others have gotten or that I’ve given them. Don’t look at the things you think you want. Just keep looking off and away up to Me or you’ll miss what I want to show you. And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than you could dream of. You see, until you are ready (I am working even at this moment to have both of you ready at the same time), until both of you are satisfied exclusively with Me and the life I have planned for you, you won’t be able to experience the love that exemplifies your relationship with Me; and this perfect love. And, dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love; I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me, and to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting love that I offer you with Myself. Know that I love you utterly. I am God. Believe and be satisfied.”

      And one last thing, remember that a “A woman´s heart shud be so lost in God that a man must seek Him in order to find her”.

  12. Peter-44842 September 18, 2009 Reply

    This is common sense restated. Be active and try things, but no point in forcing the issue or letting it absorb your life.
    As one gentleman stated, we cooperate with Providence while not often sure what it entails.

  13. Priscilla-50135 September 20, 2009 Reply

    A note to Clem and Pearl: You have to hang in there and be positive! Have FAITH! There are many stories of people who have found true love in their fifties, sixties and seventies. Sometimes we are our own obstacles. Besides, being married and having children is still not the be all. There are many spouses and parents who are not happy. I think it's important to be happy whatever your situation in life. It took me a long time to reach this point. I'm more at peace now. I want to leave it up to God. Only He knows if I will happiest as a married person or a single person. But I have to trust Him.

  14. Rhea-460303 September 23, 2009 Reply

    Very well said.The dilemma of almost all the single people in the world (including me).Sometimes it is really hard to discern about God's will.Just think about this: if it's becoming a long wait then I think God still wants to "prune" us as a person.Expand our boundaries.Let not our unrealistic standards hinder us from finding the one and take a RISK by going out of our comfot zones. Especially here in CM I noticed a lot of men are just too afraid of LDR's.What if the one for you lives on the other side of the world?Are you going to take the risk?

  15. Jim-397948 September 27, 2009 Reply

    Great Article..It makes me want to pray more for my future loving spouse, then live day to day.

  16. Meegan-410725 September 27, 2009 Reply

    Thank you Mary Beth. I wish I was as graceful at love as you were. Most unfortunately every single waking moment of the day without a lover is in comparison to waking every morning with coffee but no coffee pot.

  17. Arlene-274401 September 29, 2009 Reply

    I certainly agree w/Mary Beth & a few others who've commented.. Now, being a woman of the 21st century, do females have to WAIT for the males to approach us? Or cud females NOW do the approaching to the males?

  18. Oma-70790 September 29, 2009 Reply

    great and encouraging, but I must say that it is tough waiting, especially when everyone around you is getting married.

  19. James-488435 October 2, 2009 Reply

    So you go for walk in the park and sit down at a bench reading a magazine you have on your person. Next thing a person sits next to you and guess what… he is reading the same magazine. "Strange he should be reading, "Woman's Own" you may say! Well lets just say the magazine is "Catholic Match. So do you chat to them or just wait? No harm heh? Couldn't even be classed as testing the water. Do you have something in common? Yes, so you have something to talk about. So do you really need to wait for them to start the conversation?

  20. Claudia-490212 October 6, 2009 Reply

    Wow, thank you Mary Beth. I recently came to realize a few things you pointed out there. I had been lowering my standards just because I didn't want to be alone. I then said to myself that my warrior of light-the one that God has made for me- is out there searching for me too and that I should not give up on him by dating the first man I find. I stopped dating for nearly a year. A man of God cannot be found anywhere else but around other Christians, that is why I came to this site instead of the miriad others out there.

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