When I reflect on my relationship with my husband, there are some things that I wish I could have told myself when I was single, before I discerned my vocation.
Here are twelve things I would go back and tell myself in my own season of singleness.
1. You can only discern one vocation at a time
When I was single, I’d often wonder if the Lord was calling me to consecrated religious life or to marriage. I’d spend one weekend researching convents, the next filling out an online dating profile. Discerning one vocation is hard enough, so there’s no reason to try to figure out two vocations at the same time.
God has a specific mission and call in mind for you. This is one area of life where you definetly shouldn’t multi-task.
2. Build intentional community
You’re not meant to go at this life alone. The journey to Heaven and back to the Father’s heart is full of crosses, joys, challenges, and celebrations. None of those are fun to do alone.
Picking up the cross God is asking you to carry is hard, but it’s easier when you have someone cheering you on and challenging you to be better. Celebrations are beautiful, but parties with friends are more memorable than solo celebrations.
Start investing in men and women around you who are striving for holiness in their every day life. This isn’t so you can widen your dating pool. It’s so you can become saints together.
3. It’s okay to be mad at God sometimes
Don’t feel the need to filter your interior life. God knows that you aren’t fine when you’re struggling, and he knows you might be avoiding him if you’re stuffing your schedule full to stay busy.
It’s okay to be honest with God in prayer. If you’re frustrated, let him know. Angry? Tell him about what’s on your heart. Yes, God already knows what’s on your heart. But he wants to hear about it in your own words.
4. Develop a personal prayer life
Do you want to discern marriage with someone who’s strong in their faith? Chances are, they are probably praying for the same thing. Don’t wait until you’re dating someone to prioritize prayer.
Regardless of your vocational call, a personal prayer life is a must have.
5. Be present in the moment
It’s tempting to spend a lot of time as a single waiting for the next stage of life. Maybe you’re single, waiting for that first, committed relationship. Perhaps you’re healing from a breakup and wishing an intense season of healing was over by now. Maybe you’re dating and wishing that an engagement ring didn’t seem so far away.
Constantly craving the next season robs you of the joy that’s here in the present moment. Stop looking around the corner and instead focus on the gifts that God is giving you know. You’ll find that happiness is much more possible.
6. Get out of your comfort zone
“Man was created for greatness—for God himself; he was created to be filled by God. But his heart is too small for the greatness to which it is destined. It must be stretched.” Pope Benedict XVI knew what he was talking about. We’re made for great things, but our hearts have to be stretched. So get out of your comfort zone often.
Try something new. Talk to a stranger. Introverts and extroverts alike can benefit from time outside their comfort zones.
7. You don’t have to prove your belovedness to anyone
You are a daughter or son of God, who is loved into existence by love itself. When I struggle to recognize my belovedness, this line from Henri Nouwen’s book, “Life of the Beloved,” is a good reminder:
“Yes, there is that voice, the voice that speaks above and from within that whispers soft or declares loudly: ‘You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.’ It certainly is not easy to hear that voice in a world filled with voices that shout: ‘You are no good, you are ugly; you are worthless; you are despicable, you are nobody—unless you can demonstrate the opposite.'”
8. Get out there and do things by yourself when you’re single
Don’t wait until you’re on a date to check out that brand new art gallery, or go to the movie you want to see. Take the time to create healthy self-care habits now.
9. A relationship doesn’t fix things
Don’t wait for a relationship or a marriage for the solution to the things you’re struggling with. Instead, begin the healing process today. That may mean investing in counseling, or seeking help from a trusted friend. It could start with a visit to the sacrament of confession, too.
10. Don’t create an idol out of marriage
I speak from experience when I say that marriage is beautiful and good. But it also comes with its own sets of challenges and crosses.
When you’re single, it may be tempting to think that marriage is the ultimate goal. But that’s not true. Heaven is the ultimate goal.
11. You’re probably selfish – start working on it
If there’s anything that being in a relationship, an engagement, and a marriage has taught me, it’s that I’m selfish. I want to do things my way, and I sometimes get frustrated when I remember I have to take others into consideration.
You don’t have to wait until you’re planning a wedding with someone to start working on selfish tendencies. Practice sacrificial love with your friends and family today and begin the process of becoming more selfless today.
12. Be vulnerable with people you trust
Loving people is challenging. We’re all messy, but we have to stop saying that we’re fine, busy, or doing great when the truth is that we’re really struggling.
This doesn’t mean you should go air out all of your dirty laundry in a Facebook post. It means that you should have a small group of people that you trust. You know you can be vulnerable with them, and they can trust you with their struggles, too.