I recently had the gift of reconnecting with a college roommate I hadn’t seen in many years. She’s amazing. She is a Psychologist who is smart, fun, solid, adventurous, joyful… and single. Over lunch, she said something that has resonated with me in the months afterwards. My friend explained, “I thought I would go to college, meet someone, be married and have children before I turned thirty. Instead, I’m a doctor, have gotten to travel, do ministry and spend countless hours with friends all while getting to relish in a fantastic education experience. Most of these things I would’ve never done if I had married a decade ago as I thought I would. “I just wish someone would’ve told me that maybe my life might take a different trajectory than the traditional college/marriage/babies path. If I would have known then, it might have been easier to accept the ways my life has felt different and I might have enjoyed the last ten years more as the adventure they’ve been, without feeling so much like I was waiting for my life to start.”
As someone who spends much of my ministry helping people prayerfully prepare for a future vocation, this struck me to my core. As a friend who has many peers in their thirties experiencing anxiety because of their singleness, my heart ached. As a mother who wants her children to enjoy every ounce of every blessing the Lord provides, her words were strong.
Because the truth is: Wherever we are, whoever we are. God has a plan.
This is easy to say, hard to trust and even more difficult to delight in. This doesn’t mean that singleness isn’t painful. On the contrary, it means that we can’t let the longing in our hearts for communion overshadow the abundant blessings happening now.
I personally struggle with Fear-Of-Missing-Out in many areas of life. If something fun is happening, I want to be a part of it. FOMO (as many call it) can be one of the hardest parts of single life. Some of my unmarried friends express how hard it is to see engagement posts, attend weddings or get excited for baby showers when they feel like they are personally missing out on these joys. The irony is, that letting the temptation of bitterness creep up in the form of FOMO, you will actually miss out on something else—namely, the gratitude, joy and opportunities that are present right now.
To my singles: There are people who the Lord wants to touch in a way that only you can accomplish. There are places He wants you to see and experiences He wants you to have that can only be affective in the freedom you have right now. He wants to speak to you in the silence that you will only have for a time. He wants you to encounter Him in prayer, Sacrament, retreat and devotion while your time is yours and yours alone. Rather than focusing only on what He will do in the future, ask what He is doing today!
This isn’t to say that the ache of singleness should be minimized or ignored. The struggle is real. It can be painful when we have a desire for something good that seems just out of reach. You may remember longing to grow up. We wanted to stay up late, make our own decisions and eat whatever we wanted. Of course, now we wish we could go back to little responsibility, meals cooked for us and naps… especially naps. What would life be like if the grass wasn’t always greener on the other side, but we gave praise for every blade of green we found right in front of us? A grateful heart makes God’s presence undeniable.
Remember this: The Apostles were hysterical in the boat when the storm raged around them as they cried, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mk 4:35-41). Yet, it was the storm that gave them the chance to see Jesus’ power. The Lord is always in the boat. He is in control. Sometimes He is sleeping, but He is always in the boat. Let’s not miss the opportunities to be awed by both His plan and power.
Katie Hartfiel is the author of Woman In Love, which coaches women as they pray for their future spouse. Katie received her Theology degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville. She served as a youth minister for seven years in Houston, where she resides with her husband, Mark, and three daughters. For more on Katie, her books and your first chapter free visit womaninlove.org.