At my first CatholicMatch event years ago, I met my friend Rae.
I had gotten to know her through the forums over several months and we greeted each other like long lost friends. Big hugs were exchanged, and the first thing I said as I stepped back to look at her was, “You look so much better in real life!”
I had fallen into the bad habit of seeing her as two-dimensional.
In our quick-hitting social-media culture, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that there is a virtual world distinct from reality. The fall-out of this kind of thought is the belief that what happens online is not authentic or true.
We talk about things as IRL (not the Indy Racing League, rather In Real Life), as if the people whose pictures we are viewing, whose emotigrams we are receiving and whose discussions we are engaging in are fake. Nothing kills our chances of finding a spouse on CatholicMatch more quickly than beginning with the doubt that anything will ever come of it.
Back in the early days of my membership, I remember thinking that the image in that postage-stamp-sized profile picture was just some glossy thing right out of People magazine. Surely the people were not real.
It took me a while to realize that the faces and profiles are real flesh and blood Catholics from all over the world. They are three-dimensional people hoping to meet you and me.
But we have to get rid of the doubt. We can’t begin our profile with “I don’t think this is really going to work, but here I go.” We can’t be timid about showing the world that we are real if we want others to do the same. We can’t be looking at profiles like we are flipping through a magazine in a waiting room. We can’t be rigid in our expectations, evaluating things on a hasty surface level.
A deeper look
If we want deep and authentic love, we have to look at that person in the postage-stamp-sized profile shot as someone who has a whole life of experiences, feelings, successes and disappointments. It means we have to look at ourselves and realize that if we are real, then they must be.
We can’t be hiding our real selves behind the computer. We have to engage in the whole experience that a paid membership affords us. We have to talk on the phone, visit with each other, go on dates (they do exist!), attend events and join in praying with and for one another.
In the many years I’ve been a CatholicMatch member I’ve challenged myself to do these things. I’ve found in meeting countless people from all over that I am really at home within the Catholic Church.
And where is that?
Wherever two or more are gathered in Christ’s name.
The strong faith that my family and friends have planted deep inside me is what dispells the doubts and carries me on to my next adventure, always seeking love and His will. I get a little bit fearful and doubtful at times.
But when I place my trust in God, I know that He is going to give me someone or something real and true.
My ‘Real World’
Not too long ago MTV had a popular show titled “The Real World.” If you ask me, there was very little of that show that looked like my real world, thankfully.
My real world is full of loving Catholics, many of them from CatholicMatch, who do amazing things with their lives. They are soldiers, mothers, acclaimed scientists, the unemployed, those battling disease and those recovering from serious surgeries. They are widowers raising children and pro-life advocates. They are mountain climbers, doctors, artists, and writers. They are Catholics yearning to love as God has loved them.
In the beloved children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams, the Skin Horse tells the Rabbit that when someone loves you, you become real.
God has loved each person in those little two-dimensional photos, so they are as real as can be!
We can’t let doubt about God and others stop us from loving and being loved. We have to look beyond our past experiences, fear and pessimism. Our faith demands it!
See that two-dimensional profile picture there?
It is the Body of Christ!