Catholic Dating Problem Part 1: Waiting and Finding

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Happy Valentine’s Day! As everyone already knows, single people have a hard enough time dealing with their single status every other day of the year, but there’s something about Valentine’s Day that makes being single even more loathsome. When you’re a single Catholic young adult, the dating scene becomes a lot more complicated and being single is about 10x harder. I shared this article on my Facebook and got the following response:

 

Jillian W.:  I have the exact opposite problem. I don’t understand the concept of a single Catholic man, because they don’t exist. Every Catholic guy I know is either dating, married, or a seminarian. And I don’t get it when people say they are going on a dating fast because how do you get so many people to ask you out that you have to “take a break”. Like, I don’t even know how to get a bloody date in the first place (because there are no single Catholic men, much less ones that have ever shown an interest). I’m not single by choice or because it feels safe, in single because there’s no one to ask me out and even when there are, they don’t because no one is ever interested in me.

 

After asking other young Catholics about their POVVs in regards to the dating scene, I decided that this will be the first of a series called “Catholic Dating Problems.” The first major problem that most single Catholics have when it comes to dating: Finding somebody!

 

Like my friend Jillian, I am not single by choice, nor have I met someone who’s going on a “dating fast.” While I have a good group of single male friends, none of them are interested in me as a girlfriend. Nor do I want them to ask me out because I don’t see every guy out there as potential future husbands. I find it hard to believe that you can just look at a person and just know that he or she is the person you’re gonna be with for the rest of your life. It’s hard enough for me to communicate with someone I don’t know given that I have Asperger’s. How am I supposed to know whether or not the next guy I date is going to be “the one?”

 

One problem with finding the right person is knowing where to look.

 

My friend Clint M. said, “I honestly see a heavily pervasive secular culture influence the way Catholics interact and date. Where some embrace that culture wholeheartedly to the detriment of their faith, others reject it so thoroughly that they fail to provide adequate witness to those who have embraced secular approaches to relationships.”

 

There are a million and one ways to meet someone…the real problem is sifting through all the frogs to find that prince or princess. As hard as this is for me to say, I can’t offer any easy answers to this problem. I do hope, though, that this series will help those who are single deal with the longing that we all suffer with.

 

I  struggle with jealousy whenever other friends talk about how they just clicked with their significant others. I don’t mean wishing harm on those who have what I want. It’s more that I simply want the happiness that people in great relationships have. It’s that old Queen song again: Can anybody find me somebody to love?

 

God can. And no, that’s not an easy answer either. God’s time and will does not bend itself to whatever we want, whenever we want it. I often see posts that say that whenever we feel lonely, it’s God’s way of calling us to be close to Him. And while it helps when it comes to building a personal relationship with Christ, it doesn’t help on Valentine’s Day when we’re watching bad romantic comedies and binge-eating chocolate ice cream.

 

So what can we do when we deal with the Valentine’s Day Blues?

 

Check out this poem about Lent by William Arthur Ward:

 

Fasting and Feasting

Lent should be more than a time of fasting.
It should also be a joyous season of feasting.
Lent is a time to fast from certain things and to feast on others.

It is a season to turn to God:

Fast from judging others; feast on the goodness in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on unity of all life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent: feast on gratitude. 

Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on divine order.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives: feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal Truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.

Fast from facts that depress; feasts on truths that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that supports.

No matter how hard it may seem, hold out hope that God will lead you to whatever you are called to do. Until then, find the light in the darkness. It will at least save you some calories and hours wasted on bad movies.

Love/Death/Life Doesn't Discriminate Between the Sinners and the Saints

BowieRaR87

 

What do David Bowie, Alexander Hamilton, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have in common with a girl like me? Apparently, our birthdays are all on the same week. Alexander Hamilton was born on January 11th, 1755. 261 years later, David Bowie passed away and entered into a rebirth that we call the afterlife. I don’t know where he is, but I pray for the repose of his soul. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s birthday is this Saturday. And me? I’m caught in the middle, with my birthday being January 13th.

 

I’m not as familiar with David Bowie as everyone else. I know some of his songs and I understood his legacy as a rock star. I never watched Labyrinth (mea culpa, fellow 90s kids), but I know genius when I see it. And David Bowie was a genius. The moment that keeps coming to mind for me isn’t any of his movies or albums, but a moment when one of his songs was used in a movie:

Perks of Being a Wallflower holds a special place in my heart because it was the first movie that I watched when I began my recovery from the constant anxieties I’ve been suffering. I identified with Charlie because I was uncertain of myself. And yet, I understood that joy from the tunnel scene, hearing that perfect song on the radio and wanting to relish the moment while it lasted. That little moment wasn’t much, but I felt a bit of happiness that, before that point, eluded me.

There’s a song in Hamilton called “Wait For It,” one of Aaron Burr’s signature songs in the musical. It establishes that while Hamilton chases his ambitions, Burr is waiting for the right opportunity to come his way. Lin-Manuel Miranda said this about the song:

I think we’ve all had moments where we’ve seen friends and colleagues zoom past us, either to success, or to marriage, or to homeownership, while we lingered where we were—broke, single, jobless. And you tell yourself, “Wait for it.”

Like Aaron Burr, I’m still waiting for my time to shine. I wish that I could be like Hamilton, brave enough to make my own opportunities, or like David Bowie, who always pushed the boundaries when it came to music, or like Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose hard work can be seen in the musicals he worked on.

But as this particular performance shows, sometimes, you have to just wait for it.

Five Words For You To Contemplate

I started out this year with the oneword365 challenge in which I would focus and contemplate on one word for the whole year. The word I chose was “patience” since I always struggled with having patience in my life. Then God laughed and gave me some other words to contemplate during Lent.

 

Patience

I chose “patience” as my word for the year because, as stated before, I struggled with waiting. Whenever I anticipate something, time seems to go by even slower. My patience was tested several times throughout the last three months. Sometimes, it came in the form of people making small talk and other times it came in the form of over a dozen second graders who refused to settle down.

Throughout the last three months, I learned that things always come on God’s time, usually just when you need it the most. It might be something as small as hearing a song that lifts you out of a bad mood or as big as getting a job offer on the same day that your purse got stolen. It also means waiting for the right time to say something important or choosing not to say anything at all.  I learned that if I do little things while I’m waiting, it ends up paying off. So as Lent transitions into Easter, I’ll keep on serving the Lord and take life one day at a time.

This song came to mind when I thought about patience. I invite you to listen to it and tell me how God is asking you to be patient:

 

Serenity

It started with me finding this book called The Way of Serenity  by Fr. Jonathan Morris. The Serenity Prayer has helped me through a lot of restless nights. The first part of the Serenity Prayer is “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change.”

On top of my impatience issues, I also have some control freak tendencies. I hate being interrupted. I hate being rejected. I hate being late. But the past few months have reminded me that there are a lot of things in life that are far beyond my control and the only thing I can control is how I deal with these things. When the internet started fighting over a dress, I chose to watch Firefly. Whenever I faced rejection, I remind myself of those who already accept me. Whenever I felt neglected, I focused my sights on the fact that God’s always watching. Whenever life threw a curve ball, I dug my trenches and made the best of the situation, all the while accepting that God was in control.

BTW: Check out the cast of CW’s The Flash singing the Ballad of Serenity a cappella/gospel style. It’s shiny!

 

Courage

Of course, there’s a time to wait and there’s a time to speak out. Quotes from Taylor Swift’s album introductions come to mind:

FEARLESS is not the absence of fear. It’s not being completely unafraid. To me, FEARLESS is having fears. FEARLESS is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, FEARLESS is living in spite of those things that scare you to death. FEARLESS is falling madly in love again, even though you’ve been hurt before…It’s FEARLESS to have faith that someday things will change. FEARLESS is having the courage to say goodbye to someone who only hurts you, even if you can’t breathe without them. I think it’s FEARLESS to fall for your best friend, even though he’s in love with someone else. And when someone apologizes to you enough times for things they’ll never stop doing, I think it’s FEARLESS to stop believing them. It’s FEARLESS to say “You’re NOT sorry”, and walk away…Letting go is FEARLESS. Then, moving on and being alright…That’sFEARLESS too. But no matter what love throws at you, you have to believe in it. You have to believe in love stories and prince charmings and happily ever after. That’s why I write these songs. Because I think love is FEARLESS


Real life is a funny thing, you know. In real life, saying the right thing at the right moment is beyond crucial. So crucial, in fact, that most of us start to hesitate, for fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. But lately what I’ve began to fear more than that is letting the moment pass without saying anything. 

I think most of us fear reaching the end of our life, and looking back regretting the moments we didn’t speak up. When we didn’t say ‘I love you’. When we should’ve said ‘I’m sorry’. When we didn’t stand up for ourselves or someone who needed help. 

Words can break someone into a million pieces, but they can also put them back together. I hope you use yours for good, because the only words you’ll regret more than the ones left unsaid are the ones you use to intentionally hurt someone. 

What you say might be too much for some people. Maybe it will come out all wrong and you’ll stutter and you’ll walk away embarrased, wincing as you play it all back in your head. But I think the words you stop yourself from saying are the ones that will haunt you the longest. 

So say it to them. Or say it to yourself in the mirror. Say it in a letter you’ll never send or in a book millions might read someday. I think you deserve to look back on your life without a chorus of resounding voices saying ‘I could’ve, but it’s too late now.’ 

There is a time for silence. There is a time for waiting your turn. But if you know how you feel, and you so clearly know what you need to say, you’ll know it. 

I don’t think you should wait. I think you should speak now 

The debate over whether people can change is an interesting one for me to observe because it seems like all I ever do is change. All I ever do is learn from my mistakes so I don’t make the same ones again. Then I make new ones. I know people can change because it happens to me little by little every day. Every day I wake up as someone slightly new. Isn’t it wild and intriguing and beautiful to think that every day we are new?

So it’s only natural that the song I choose for whenever I’m contemplating courage is one of hers. I want to know what it’s like for you when you have courage, when you feel fearless, or a time when you chose to speak out.

 

Wisdom

It’s hard to believe that I’m 25 years, two months, 1 week, and five days old now. It’s hard to believe that a year ago, I consecrated myself to Jesus through Mary. And that I’ll be renewing that consecration this year.

One of Mary’s many, many titles is “Seat of Wisdom.” (Taken from the Litany of Loreto.) Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and a number of other saints have been teaching me wisdom throughout Lent. But Mary has been teaching me the most about what it means to be wise. I’m no longer the smartest girl in school and the news I hear every day reminds me that there are things that are far beyond my understanding.

But wisdom is different from knowledge. To quote The Way of Serenity:

Wisdom is not really about knowing many things, but rather knowing (discerning) what is important…Have you noticed that wise people are humble people? The know how much they don’t know.

Since today is the feast of the Annunciation, I ask you to contemplate the first Joyful Mystery and ask Mary to share her wisdom with you. Be with Mary as she contemplates the fact that she is going to become the mother of God, that she chose to say “Yes,” and that now, even to this day, many generations call her “blessed.”

 

Mercy

Throughout Lent, my dad and I prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3PM. I read bits and pieces of the Diary of St. Faustina. I even listened to Fr. Michael Gaitley’s story of how Divine Mercy was part of God’s plan for St. Faustina and for St. John Paul II.

But what comes to my mind when I think of mercy is Psalm 51. I kept seeing parts of it during the readings for Daily Mass and in the Sunday Psalms. It was my constant prayer during my restless nights and whenever I found myself “backsliding.”

Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;

in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.

Thoroughly wash away my guilt;

and from my sin cleanse me.

For I know my transgressions;

my sin is always before me.

Against you, you alone have I sinned;

I have done what is evil in your eyes

So that you are just in your word,

and without reproach in your judgment.

Behold, I was born in guilt,

in sin my mother conceived me.

Behold, you desire true sincerity;

and secretly you teach me wisdom.

Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

You will let me hear gladness and joy;

the bones you have crushed will rejoice.

Turn away your face from my sins;

blot out all my iniquities.

A clean heart create for me, God;

renew within me a steadfast spirit.

Do not drive me from before your face,

nor take from me your holy spirit.

Restore to me the gladness of your salvation;

uphold me with a willing spirit.

I will teach the wicked your ways,

that sinners may return to you.

Rescue me from violent bloodshed, God, my saving God,

and my tongue will sing joyfully of your justice.

Lord, you will open my lips;

and my mouth will proclaim your praise.

For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it;

a burnt offering you would not accept.

My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;

a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.

Treat Zion kindly according to your good will;

build up the walls of Jerusalem.

Then you will desire the sacrifices of the just,

burnt offering and whole offerings;

then they will offer up young bulls on your altar.

Danielle Rose has a beautiful musical version of this song from her album “Culture of Life.” I invite you to listen to it and pray it. I also want to know how mercy has been a part of your life.

 

So those are the words I have gathered so far. What words have you been drawn to during this Lenten season?

Lent Days 27-29: Waiting In The Desert

There were a few reasons I didn’t write the past few days.

Monday’s Lenten Reflection talks about how posture can make a difference when it comes to prayer. Fr. Robert Barron quotes psychologist William James who says “…it is not so much sadness that makes us cry as crying that makes us feel sad.” Without going too much into detail as to why, I spent Monday night crying. And what hurt more than the crying was a feeling of disappointment in the world as a whole and a sense of despair. God was far from my mind that night, in spite of the fact that I went to Mass the previous morning. I neglected my prayers and drowned myself in distractions.

Yesterday’s Lenten Reflection asks: “Have I tried to live on something other than God?” That answer was a resounding “Yes.” In spite of me praying to make up for the previous night’s neglect, I felt like I was saying my prayers instead of feeling them. And I went back to my distractions, wishing that the past couple days never happened. I tried to focus making something positive out of the sadness I felt, but negativity is a very heavy emotion. God felt very far yesterday. The worst part was that for the past two days, I didn’t even feel like taking pictures for my 365grateful project or updating this blog for a progress report. (I’ll make up for that by doing a progress report post on Easter.) 

The reason for that was that I felt some serious doubt. I knew in my head that God probably understood how I felt, but He himself felt so far away that it was hard for me to believe that God could understand the specifics of my emotions. I struggled with sleep for the past few days due to my sadness and last night, I could only pray how I felt. There wasn’t any formality in my prayers, just me venting to God out loud and in my thoughts about my sadness and despair. “Help my unbelief,” I said.

Today’s Lenten Reflection seems to reflect how I feel right now. I’m in a waiting period in more ways than one. And as I look back on the past couple days, I realize that right now, I feel spiritually dry as a side effect of my impatience. Patience was never my strength, as I said before. But thankfully, the Jesuits have a prayer for what I’m feeling. For now, I can pray for the desire for God’s presence. And even when I don’t want that desire for God’s presence, I can pray for the desire for the desire of God’s presence. For now, that’s all I can do, and that’s enough for me and for God.

Lent Day 1: Ash Wednesday

Today, I learned a lesson in patience. I got an e-mail from my Sunday School Supervisors that there would be an Ash Wednesday prayer service just for the kids, so I decided to wait until 7:30 to get my ashes.

The rest of the day proved to be a test of patience. My co-teacher and I were planning on getting pretzels and juice for the kids, but I wanted to be efficient, so I decided to buy the food about an hour before class started.

What did I do between the time I got up and the time I actually had to go to CCE? I spent the day like I normally did, except I fasted. I made a lot of tea. I started reading Thomas A. Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ. (I seriously love that book and I highly recommend it as a Lenten reading.)

In the end, I found that my patience was still tested. My first graders were restless and excited and the prayer service didn’t leave time for snacks and juice. Thankfully, my co-teacher and I decided that we would give the kids snacks after Spring Break.

So like I told my friend: “Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.” And boy did I learn a lesson in that today.

In a way, Lent is a period where our patience is tested constantly. Sometimes it comes in the form of fasting. Sometimes, it comes when you aren’t sure if you can finish that extra prayer or give that spare change to the homeless person on the street. Last year, many Catholics learned patience during the Sede Vacante period between Benedict and Francis. But as last year taught us, there is always something better waiting for us when Lent is over.

Here’s what Fr. Robert Barron has to say about today:

From Fr. Robert Barron:

Judged According to Love

The Spanish mystic Saint John of the Cross said that in the evening of life we shall be judged according to our love. In Matthew 25 the nature of love is specified. It is not primarily a feeling, an attitude, or a conviction, but rather a concrete act on behalf of those in need–the hungry, the homeless, the lonely, the imprisoned, the forgotten. It is the bearing of another’s burden.

Here’s a challenge: Over the next forty-seven days, resolve to perform a particular and sustained act of love.

Make several visits to your relative in the nursing home. Converse regularly with a lonely person on your block. Tutor and befriend a kid who might be in danger of losing his way. Repair a broken friendship. Bring together bickering factions at your place of work. Make a number of financial contributions to a worthy organization that needs help.

Numerous spiritual masters have witnessed to something odd: Belief in God is confirmed and strengthened not so much from intellectual effort as from moral action.

When a man once asked the English Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins what he must do in order to believe, Hopkins replied, “Give alms.”

As you love through tangible acts, you will come to believe more deeply and to enter more fully into friendship with God.’

And finally, here’s my #ashtag selfie.

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