I don’t normally listen to the radio. Podcasts, yes. My own playlist with the windows down, yes. Never those annoying talk shows. God’s providence was at work when the radio came on and I left it on. The hosts were discussing a study done on overall psychological happiness and life stability. They asked viewers to call in and say what they think is the most important decision you’ll ever make in your life. Career? How much you travel? Degrees you obtain? Friends you have? Number of zeros on your paycheck?
The answer: who you choose to marry.
It was not ETWN Catholic radio, Christian radio, it was not any “inspirational” podcast it was secular radio. I opened my heart right up and leaned in to what they began discussing. Since I work and take hundreds of high schoolers on retreats, who talk ENDLESSLY about their romantic lives, it hit home. Since I meet and befriend so many people (young and old) who want true, lasting love, it hit home.
To my friends reading this blog, here’s the only message I will stress to you forever; I know, I know how lonely life can get. I know how hard it is to find companionship and real, authentic relationships. I feel it every day. You can meet likeminded people, people who laugh at your jokes, people who will treat you to dinner or ice cream, people who will share their hearts with trust and vulnerability, people who are just insanely attractive to you, people who you can “get by” with, but your heart is worth fighting for, so DON’T SETTLE.
Attraction can lack depth and emotional connection. Charm can lack values and morals. Funny jokes can lack support and encouragement. A dinner and date every Friday night can distract you from pursuing your dreams. Keeping someone along because you’re afraid to be lonely will always stagnate your personality, identity, and potential.
I pray, I deeply pray, that everyone (reading this or not) does not settle. Our Lord needs, craves, desires, and intercedes for all our love lives. If love is the greatest thing on Earth, we can be patient and wait for the greatest kind of love, don’t settle because of time. Love can endure all the hardships of loneliness and heartache. Love hopes, it is kind, it does not insist on its own ways, but on God’s abundant ways and so we must be like love and imitate it (1 Cor 13:4).
Settling in your relationships is like driving home so impatient and hungry that you stop at Chipotle to grab a massive burrito bowl to satiate your hunger to only get home to find your mother has been preparing you a surprise dinner of your favorite full course meal, dessert and all. Unfortunately, you’re full with a fast food fix and can’t enjoy the gift prepared for you. Mom, who prepped it for you, will understand and accept the situation but probably wishes she could have doused you with her love and gift. God is the same way with our romantic lives. He wants to gift us with the best love story for our lives.
If what you are seeking is attention, to be seen, to be noticed, to be taken out on a Friday night, to be asked how your day was, to get that good morning text then the good news is that you can get those things from many other people AND in a more genuine way than someone unintentional about pursuing your heart and upholding your dignity. Take a moment and think: to say that you want a relationship is really just to say that you want relationship. It takes a deep maturity and consistent prayer to know which person you will ultimately choose to spend the rest of your life. In the words of Sarah Swafford, “become the man or woman of YOUR dreams, and you’ll attract the man or woman of your dreams.”
I knew, many times, I was settling. I quieted my heart, put myself in the presence of God, and asked for the grace to be brave and just end things. Did I go back and try to make the relationship work? Of course. Did it get better ? Nope.
The question I always get and have asked myself id: “how will I know?”
This is my response: When the peace and love of God surpasses all understanding. When you are alone with yourself, God, and your heart you will experience something so real and genuine of Love that you will thank yourself, and God that you waited.
Shannon Donnelly is a campus minister at an all-girls high school in Philadelphia, PA. She graduated from Cabrini University with a degree in Religious Studies. She is a speaker, writer, and hopeless romantic. Shannon spends her free time loving Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration, reading, dancing, and teaching fitness classes….on trampolines!