Friday, February 17, 2012

On Singleness

These aren't my thoughts, but those of a Catholic woman. I posted this on FB, but wanted to include it on here for anyone who maybe didn't see that, and I also include some more quotes and thoughts of my own. This was on NRO the other day and gives a great perspective on singleness and appreciating that time in our lives while still living full of faith and hope. I think anything that she says in this piece actually has direct application for anyone out there in the LDS faith and is still single. And from a guy's perspective, I think this probably applies as much to men as it does to women in a lot of respects. So here is the article.

This piece is actually an interview with Kathy Stimpson, author of The Catholic Girl's Guide for Surviving the Single Years. Some excerpts:
‘Singleness can very much be a cross, a source of struggles and suffering offered up to God as you journey towards him. It’s also an opportunity, however short or long-lived, to serve God and others in a unique way,” Emily Stimpson writes...
LOPEZ: A book called Embracing Your Single Vocation made you cry. But isn’t that what your book is advocating?

STIMPSON: Not in the sense that book meant it! The author of that book, God bless his well intentioned heart, had this theory that if you weren’t married by a certain point in life, your 30th birthday, you should just accept the fact that you were never going to get married and try to be happy about that. My book presumes just the opposite, that most young women reading it will get married one day, only that day will come a little (or a lot) later than it did for their mothers and grandmothers. Some of us won’t marry, of course, but most of us will. (At least that’s what the statistics say.) Accordingly, the Survival Guide’s goal isn’t to encourage readers to be happy about being single forever and ever — I hope they won’t be single forever and ever — but to offer some advice that can make the single life more bearable; suggestions that can help women not only to be sane and happy but also to become the woman God is calling them to be. Whether we ever marry or not, those ideas come in pretty handy, so handing them on is what my book is about.

LOPEZ: Which idea discussed in your book is our culture most in need of?

STIMPSON: Well, on one level, I think single women need some help navigating the challenges, both practical and spiritual, that come with being single in the post-college years. When it comes to issues such as vocation, femininity, dating, chastity, work, and finances, we’re facing challenges our mothers and grandmothers rarely faced. On a deeper level, our culture needs women who can be witnesses — witnesses to the dignity and vocation of femininity, witnesses to the beauty of chastity, and witnesses to what it means to trust God in the face of suffering. Ultimately, the book is call to young single women to be those witnesses. And hopefully, it’s a help for them in answering that call.

LOPEZ: “Learn to submit”? We have to be a nation of Michele Bachmanns?

STIMPSON: I’m not sure what goes on in Michele Bachmann’s house, but the type of submission I’m talking about in the book is not the kind that requires you to submit to your controlling ex-boyfriend. That’s a bad idea. I’m talking about submitting to God, to his will, and to his plan. And also to his truth. Too many of us have set ourselves up as our own pope, picking and choosing what we want to believe based only on what’s easy or convenient. But that doesn’t get you very far, at least not if happiness and holiness are what you’re after. Authentic freedom, loving as we’re called to love, comes from surrendering ourselves to God. It comes from dying to ourselves and letting our hearts and minds be conformed to Christ’s. That’s a type of submission we all need to practice — men and women.

I'm going to leave it at that. I only went through the first couple of pages and I pretty much just included everything from there. What I really like about the article is that the tone is very positive, which I think is really key to handling your single years gracefully and eventually what allows you to settle into a happy, healthy relationship. I think optimism is a natural outcropping of faithfulness, and until we can learn to be happy and content regardless of the situation we find ourselves in, it's not going to make a difference our marital/single status.

Let me speak as an "expert" after surviving (nearly...talking in terms of nearly first, not nearly surviving) my first year of marriage. I think marriage is kind of what it was like going from premortal life to mortal life. There were some great things about premortal life, I'm sure, but there were definitely more benefits to mortal life and that's why we ended up coming here. Being single should be a good time in life, and there are some things that can only really be done while single and it's great, but when it comes time for marriage and the progress and different set of challenges and circumstances that come along with that, then embrace it when it becomes available. Until that time comes, however, enjoy whatever your circumstances might be. Bloom where you're planted. You'll be much happier that way. When the time is right, it'll work itself out.

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