We all acknowledge as Catholics that God is our Creator. He’s the most important figure in our lives—at least, theoretically.
But in reality, we all have a hard time keeping God in the place of first importance. This is especially the case in a romantic relationship.
Almost any country song will tell you that when a guy falls in love with a girl, that girl arrests his entire attention. Very little room is left for anything or anyone else, including God.
Does this mean Catholic singles can’t fall in love? No, not at all. But it does mean that they have to make a conscious effort to keep God as their top priority.
The trick is to love God first.
Now, by “first,” I don’t mean that unless you have fallen in love with God, you can’t pursue a relationship. What I do mean is that loving God has to be more important to you than falling in love with anyone else. Both can happen at the same time. But they should not have the same significance. The good news is that pursuing God will strengthen your relationship. So it’s a win-win situation!
Here are three ways to keep God as your first priority.
1. Spend time with God
No matter whether you are in a relationship or not, you should always take time to be alone with God. It is a beautiful fact of life that we both show love and grow in love by spending time with someone.
You don’t have to spend all day in church, but you should be giving time to God every day, even if it’s only five minutes in the quiet of your room. Start small; God likes small (See Matthew 13:31).
Another way of spending time with God is simply by having a conversation to Him. You don’t have to stop everything you’re doing; you can speak to Him on the drive home after work or while you’re making dinner.
Any time you could have a conversation with a friend, you can have a conversation with God—who wants to be your friend. Take a moment to raise your thoughts to God and offer yourself to Him. If you have trouble remembering to do that, ask your guardian angel to remind you (that’s part of their job, after all).
The more you practice little acts like these, the more they will become habitual. You’ll find yourself turning to God more frequently and talking with Him more easily. It’s a basic but very real way of making Him your number one priority. In other words, striving to be best friends with God!
2. Include God in your relationship
Aristotle says that if a man has two good friends, so dear to him that they share a significant portion of his life, those two friends must also be good friends with each other. Otherwise, they can’t both closely share in his life.
It’s like drawing three overlapping circles. If the first covers most of the second and the third does the same, they have to overlap each other as well.
All this applies to God and your relationship. If God and your relationship are both going to have a significant place in your life, then God will have to have a significant place in your relationship as well. Otherwise, one or the other will become less important than it should be.
If you want to make sure God takes first priority in your relationship, pursue that goal together. Talk with each other about God. Find out what He means to each of you. The way we view God affects how we view ourselves. You may find that having a conversation about God will teach you a lot about each other.
Most of all, pray together. This is essential for a God-centered relationship. It is not a distraction from the relationship or a burden. Instead, prayer truly strengthens the relationship. Prayer brings both of you closer to God and closer to each other.
3. See God in all things
As human beings, we are attracted to goodness, truth, love, life. This is because we are made for God, who is goodness, truth, love and life Himself. All other things are reflections of God. This world possesses tiny fractions of the beauty which God possesses in its fullness. Because we are drawn to God, we are drawn to His reflections in the world around us.
This attraction is a very good thing, and it is wise to be aware of it. We can find images of God wherever we look, and especially in other human beings.
The danger is that we can think that an image is “the real thing,” the thing that will make us completely happy, and settle for less than we are made for. I can only speak from one perspective, but I know that men are especially susceptible to treating a woman as the end-all-be-all of life. Women are the crown jewel of creation, after all.
Nevertheless, although we can and should enjoy good things and especially good relationships, we must remember that they are meant to urge us onward to God.
In your relationship, recognize that the beauty and love you experience is a small part of an even greater Love and Beauty in which you are called to share. Try to look at your relationship in the light of God rather than looking at God in the light of your relationship. Then falling in love will be different. You will fall in love with that other person because they are an image of God.
The results of right relationship
It’s tempting to feel as though moving your relationship to a lower place on the priority list will somehow damage it or make it weaker. But the reverse is true.
Putting your relationship in its proper place will actually allow it to grow and become stronger.
It’s like building a house. If you want it to be a good house, you have to put things in their proper place. A roof is no use as a foundation, and the foundation does no good on top of the roof. But put them where they belong, and both can do what they are made to do.
If you make God your foundation, your relationship will become what it is meant to be: a beautiful reflection of the One upon Whom it is built.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)