National Vocations Awareness Week runs from 4 to 11 August.
I was at a party recently when I bumped into someone I haven’t seen in years. We hugged, chatted for a while and eventually it led to the revelation that I am single and in my late 20s, to their surprise. I’m sure some of you can relate, and those mini catch-ups often goes a little something like this:
“Oh, so you’re single and not interested in anyone?”.
“Ah, no. Not at this stage in my life,” I reply.
“But you’re totally wife material!”
“Haha. Thank you. But no there’s no one right now… “
There’s an awkward silence.
“So, how are you?” I ask.
It’s not uncommon to have other single friends frustratingly recount similar stories to me and some end up feeling defeated or disheartened, not wanting to continue existing in the “waiting game”. It can be hard! Not to mention other stories of failed dates, relationships moving too quickly or the courting stage moving too slowly.
When I was 16, I had my whole life planned. By 23, I would have graduated and be working for a law firm with a clear path to progression. By 26, I would be married with 2 babies. By 27, I’d have a house with my little family.
It’s often said, if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.
Instead, here’s how it’s turned out so far.
At 23, I returned from a year of exchange in Miami, having experienced the hardest year of my life but also God’s great capacity to call people out of darkness.
At 26, at World Youth Day in Poland, God made His love for me known in a real and intense way through the Eucharist, which pushed me to go outside of myself.
At 27, after many hard conversations and decisions, I found myself working for Catholic Youth Parramatta and pursuing faith-related projects which I constantly pray brings God’s love to those who need it.
As St Augustine would say, “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.”
In my season of singleness, here are three things I’ve learned that I wish every single person would realise in this God-graced period of life:
- Let yourself be healed: Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines once said at a World Youth Day keynote, “If you do not allow yourself to be healed, you will inflict wounds on other people.” Or in other words “Hurt people hurt people.” Unless we allow God to be the healer of our wounds, we will project our own pains, insecurities, selfishness and unrealistic expectations on others. We must ask God for the grace to help heal the pain from broken relationships, unmet needs and desires, and goals that were not achieved. I was told that, whether I’m called to Religious Life or Marriage, unless I choose to learn to heal, it will be difficult to move forward with openness to God’s invitations.
- Let yourself be loved: I firmly believe that virtuous friendships allow people to experience Truth, Beauty and Goodness which empowers and encourages. In this time of being single, choose to surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable to your prayer life, will help you make good daily decisions, and journey with you in faith. This has been such an essential part of my single life. I have been able to grow in character and virtues in preparation for what may come, because family and friends encourage me to live life, not for myself, but for others in service of Him. These people have taught me how love and be loved.
- Let yourself be free: God promises a life of freedom. It has never been said that it will be easy. Being single has its fair share of temptations and a plethora of options to choose from which can stifle us. I’ve come to see that freedom is a life living extraordinarily in the ordinary by choosing to follow Christ. Every day, we are offered opportunities to serve and be present to others. You see, choosing to follow Christ leads to a natural detachment to, what St Thomas Aquinas identifies as: power, honour, pleasure, and wealth. All of which are not in and of themselves evil, but God asks us not to seek satisfaction in these alone. When God is our number one, we are transformed. We become open to the Spirit’s prompting in our daily lives, even if that means eventually saying yes to a date or going to a discernment retreat.
The reality of needing to decide what the next steps are towards my vocation often stirs in my heart, especially during prayer but I trust that the little steps forward in faith draw me closer to His vocation for me.
In the spirit of National Vocation Awareness Week, I hope this little piece encourages you to see the period of single life as an essential part of the journey towards your vocation. Especially, if you have not yet deeply accepted how much God loves you. This is important.
In this time of being single, let yourself be healed, let yourself be loved, and let yourself be free.
Wherever we find ourselves in, it will be the vocation He desires for us. Our vocation will be the one that allows us to fully live out the great call: to love like Christ. With our “Yes”, we will find that falling in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him is the greatest adventure, and to find him is the greatest human achievement.
Qwayne Guevara is the Local Engagement Leader, Catholic Youth Parramatta.
For more information about Vocations in the Diocese of Parramatta, please visit: www.parracatholic.org/vocations/