Dear Mary Beth,
If a person has discerned their vocation and really feels that they are called to marriage and the person is just not being brought into their life, how do you keep your spirits up? I believe that God wants us to be generally happy and at peace in life, and if this includes waiting on His timing to bring the right person into our lives, why don’t I feel peaceful about it? I am feeling angry and hurt and wondering why God is allowing this hurt to continue in my life? Unfortunately it is now starting to make me question whether or not God could truly exists. God sets rules for living and I have followed them (for years on end). Why am I hurting while others who do not follow His rules seem to get their lives to go the way they want? I just don’t get it and I’m really in a lot of spiritual and emotional pain over the whole thing.
You said you’re starting to question whether God exists. Frankly, I think you’re right. That’s exactly the question you need to be asking.
I believe that God does exist. But I don’t believe that He is who you think He is. The “God” you’re talking about—the one who automatically provides us with spouses as a reward for virtuous behavior—He doesn’t exist. Never has. Never will.
I know you’re hurting. I’m sorry. I’ve been there, too. Virtually everybody on this site has. It’s hard—very hard—to feel called to marriage, to assume that it’s our future, and then to find that the “right one” isn’t showing up, and to face the possibility that he or she may never show up.
But don’t blame it on God.
He loves you. Madly. Passionately. And He wants what is absolutely best for you. More than just wanting you to be “generally happy,” He wants you to be really happy. In eternity with Him. Forever. That’s His focus. He’s our Savior. He came to save us—not from a corrupt government (as many of his followers assumed), or from spinsterhood (as we singles sometimes assume) or from persecution or famine or anything else. He came to save us from the power of evil, and He left us a Church as an instrument of our eternal salvation. And He promised that His Spirit would be with that Church until the end of the world.
As for this life, He never promised us “general happiness,” or a peaceful life, or a guaranteed spouse, or anything like that. In fact, He pretty much promised that we’ll have a bit of a rough time of it if we follow Him.
You are finding that now. The problem isn’t with God, it’s with the free will He gave to us. When people use that free will in ways that are contrary to His will, other people get hurt. That’s one reason why, in this day and age, so many faithful Catholics are single. Fewer Catholics are taking their faith seriously. And that leaves fewer faithful Catholics for us to marry.
That’s not God’s “will,” at least not in the sense of being what God wants to happen. But He allows it to happen, and people like us get hurt as a result. Being faithful to God has made it more difficult for us to find compatible spouses. That is our cross.
Why don’t you and I have spouses yet when other seem to have received them gift-wrapped from God? I don’t know. Why did God spare one family from the Gestapo, while their neighbors perished in the gas chambers? Did God love the one family more? I doubt it. He loved both, met each in the midst of the evil they were facing, and fashioned a plan to bring them to eternal salvation with Him.
The question of “how we keep our spirits up” is a big one, and probably best saved for next time. But I want to challenge you to spend some time, in prayer, re-exploring who God really is. He isn’t less than the God you’re imagining—the one who fulfills our wishes in this life. He is actually so much more than that. He is the God who has loved you from all eternity, and knew from all eternity exactly where you would be in this moment in your life, and has built a plan just for you—a plan to make the most of this time here on earth, and to bring you to Heaven to spend eternity with Him.
That is why you “follow the rules.” Not because God promises you a spouse in return. But because you love Him and want to honor Him with your life, regardless of the outcome.
You may still marry. You may not. Either way, God will be with you—loving you, leading you and inviting you into deeper union with Himself.
Marriage is a great good. But it isn’t the “holy grail” and it isn’t the ultimate goal of this life. Our goal is Heaven.
Keep your eyes focused on that prize.
Do you have questions for Mary Beth? Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.