Editor’s Note: As a part of our mission to help single Catholics deepen their faith and better discern dating and marriage, the CatholicMatch Institute held an essay contest to award scholarships for the National Catholic Singles Conference that will be held in Philadelphia on September 27-29, 2013.
Members had to answer the essay question: Describe how you have discerned that you are called to the vocation of marriage and provide one example of how you joyfully live out your faith until the time when you can fulfill your vocation?
The post below is one of our winning essays. Congratulations to Mary Mizak from Michigan! (Click here to see the rest of the winners.)
Growing up in Detroit, we were one of many families struggling financially, but inside our four little walls, I was one of the richest kids on the block.
My home was bursting with love, acceptance, and Mom’s homemade Italian meatballs! At six years old, I was already starting to worry about finding the man God had picked for me. I rocked on the porch swing with Mom that sweltering summer as she told me, “I knew your father was the one when he took me to Mass for our first date!” She explained that if your eyes are always focused on Christ, everything else will fall into place. Right then and there, with my lopsided pigtails, skinned knees, and sticky red popsicle mouth, I memorized my very first bible verse: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6 NIV).
My parents were high school sweethearts who shared a passion for Christ, family, and community. They loved to love God and were excited to share Him with their four children in every moment. One of my favorite memories growing up is saying the Rosary together, all six of us, huddling together on our knees in their cozy, dimly lit bedroom. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I was being molded into something invaluable.
Even at six years old, I was learning how to become a Catholic wife, mother, neighbor and friend. I’ve always known I was a vessel for Christ. I saw myself as a boat, holding others safe out of the churning, dark water below as I taught them about God’s Love. However, in my heart something was missing. To be the boat in life is important, but I wanted more than that. All around us, there are adolescents in our community drowning with no one around to pull them to safety. So I had to become more than the boat: I became the oar!
This is my fourth year as a school counselor at a Catholic High School and everyday, I paddle. I paddle to kids who don’t understand God’s acceptance, who don’t know Christ’s forgiveness, who yearn for the knowledge of Him. I am blessed to be able to minister to hundreds of teenagers every day and wake up each morning excited to see who I will reach.
I may still be waiting to find the man God has chosen for me, but my trust in Him is unwavering. He knows my heart even better than I do. Perhaps someday, I will leave behind my own four little-walled home, filled with more love and more homemade Italian meatballs.
Perhaps I will leave behind a legacy of more sticky red popsicle mouths, reciting the Words of Christ and preparing themselves to leave legacies of their own. In the meantime, I will continue to do what I do best: I’m going to paddle!