If only I knew then what I know now…
My first thoughts on this topic were three simple, imperative and declarative sentences:
“Calm down. It will all work out. Trust me.”
I don’t know that ten-years-ago single me (19) would have believed them or even five-years-ago me (24). Perhaps that is because me at those ages was in a very different place spiritually—not mature enough to see that those nine words are what God was essentially begging me (and probably all of us) to do. I wrote an essay for the Dear Teen Me Project and approached it from the angle that I want to approach this Dear Adult Me exercise: not reveal the future. I think if I were to spoil the future for Past Me, she wouldn’t have made the same choices or had the same experiences that lead her to Current Me. The mystery of the future is one of the strongest compelling forces in strengthening your faith life.
Of course, I don’t want to abandon her in complete darkness, so here’s a little light to two former selves, both at critical points in singlehood.
To Ten-Years Ago Me: Now that you’re in college and (gasp!) asking a boy to be your plus-one to a formal and loving the way R.’s blonde locks curl across his forehead, so you feel like dating is actually finally a Thing That Will Be A Part of Your Life. And it will be.
- Hold on to how you dream relationships should be. Those imaginings are idealistic and principled and romantic and rooted in the good that is love. These are good ways to think about relationships; they convey the yearning for the covenantal love of God with His people, mirrored in the covenantal love of two spouses. Pursuing this kind of relationship (and not just a hook up) will get you where and what you desire—even if it means being single because you haven’t found that ideal you’re looking for.
- Hold on to your faith. These next four years are a time to learn, to deepen, and to embrace your Catholicness. There is so much more than Mass and That One Rule. Maybe right now you don’t understand the why behind the what you do, but if you hang in there, you will. And it will only help in the future.
- Hold on to your new friends. The love of authentic friends is the first real chosen love: you choosing them, them choosing you. Figuring out how chosen love will only help when you’re ready to date to discern marriage—an even more complex, chosen love. And if you don’t end up married (because I at nearly 29 don’t even know for sure!), you still are blessed by the graces of chosen love.
To Five-Years Ago Me: Now that you’re almost done with formal education and starting to think about jobs, you’re also thinking more about the rest of your life. This past year was a big one for you—beginning dating and all; have peace that you handled it as well as you could and you will only get better.
- Be open. To new experiences, new people, new ideas. From all of these you will grow in the ways you need to be prepared for whatever the future holds.
- Be faithful. Always foster your relationship with the Trinity. Nothing and no one is guaranteed in a fallen earthly world. The authentic love of God is the one most worth your time.
- Be humble: this doesn’t mean lowly. It means rooted to the ground, but your hands still reaching up in Heaven, able to feel God. You won’t get what you want when you want it; you’re not owed anything. You will experience pain and heartbreak (sorry 😦 ), but because God is grasping those outstretched fingers of yours, it will be okay. He’s just placing something in your palm, closing it up, and when the time is right, you’ll be able to open it up and see the gift He gives you.
To both of you:
- Love isn’t feelings. It’s choices. Choices that are made for the true good of the other—and for yourself.
- Your heart, mind, body and soul, are gifts you offer to God, yourself, and other people. Put a lot of thought and love into them and give with joy.