There are many times when our years as a Catholic single can feel bleak. Even if we have a plan on how to look for a spouse, or if we have some solid hopes for our future, we can still begin to feel discouraged.
Sometimes things move slowly. Other times, an online dating conversation we had high hopes for might not come to fruition. No matter the cause for our discouragement, it can be difficult to pull ourselves out of this mindset.
If you’re feeling discouraged about your singleness, here are four things to think about as you seek feelings of encouragement.
1. Remember that vocations don’t happen on a timeline
Most of us probably didn’t grow up imagining that we’ll wait until middle age or later before we get married. But the reality that some people don’t find their spouse until they are older than they were expecting.
In fact, Saint Therese’s parents weren’t exactly young when they married.
Her mother, Saint Zelie was twenty-seven, which isn’t that old for modern standards. But that was still older than the standard for women in the 1800s.
Saint Louis, Therese’s father, was thirty-five when he married Zelie. Both Louis and Zelie explored religious vocations first and worked in the world for a time before they found their vocation with each other.
There are many other examples of saints who married or found their vocations late in life as well. Do a search when you’re feeling discouraged about your own singleness. Then, ask the saints you find to pray for you.
Don’t forget that you can also look around you at those you know to find encouragement, too. You might have friends, relatives, or friends-of-friends in your life who didn’t find that special someone until much later than they’d planned.
A relative of mine was single for many, many years. He wanted to marry, but by the time he was in his fifties everyone (including him) was assuming he would remain single for the rest of his life. But one day, he reconnected with an old acquaintance. She, too, had remained single her whole life. The two of them are now very happily married.
Marrying later in life might not be what you’re picturing or hoping for, for yourself. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be beautiful, fulfilling, and perfect for you when it happens.
2. The right kind of community is invaluable
A big part of the discouragement of being single seems to stem from loneliness.
If this is true for you, work on finding community. Don’t settle for just any random group of friends. Instead, invest in a group of like-minded Christians who get what you’re going through.
One of the most helpful group of people to become friends with are other single Catholics of a similar age to you. They’re probably in very nearly the same place you are.
Good friends will commiserate with you, point you in a helpful direction in your dating life, tell you when you’re being over dramatic, and mourn with you when things don’t go your way.
Plus they can share their own struggles of being single with you so you don’t feel so alone.
Pray for friends like this. Actively seek them.
Check for singles groups at your parish or neighboring parishes, or try joining parish activities to connect with other singles.
3. Look for the good things about single life
In your darkest moments, it might really feel as if there are no good things about single life. At least certainly none that seem very significant in the face of your feelings of discouragement.
Sometimes it takes a bit of mental effort, but striving to focus a bit on some aspects that are even a little positive can help lift your feelings of discouragement.
For example, you might have more time and flexibility for things like service work, traveling, or pursuing hobbies.
Most likely, none of these things will be very fulfilling on their own. But it can be helpful to focus on at least the possibility for some fun, joy, or fulfillment that would be difficult while married with a family.
If it seems hard to pick out good things about your single life, try making a list or bringing it prayer. Ask God to show you how he’d like you to make the most of your single life.
4. Be honest with God about your feelings
There are a lot of platitudes we can try to focus on to try and feel less discouraged about our singles.
We can tell ourselves that being single right now is part of God’s plan for our lives.
We can remind ourselves that our lives work according to his time.
We can try to focus on the fact that he knows what is best for us.
All of these things are true, and we might know that intellectually. But knowing their truth on an intellectual level doesn’t always make it easy to feel that they are true, on an emotional level.
If you’re wrestling with these types of thing and internally balking at the idea that such suffering is what is best for you, bring all of this to the Lord.
Don’t pretend that you’re perfectly fine with waiting on God if you’re not. Pour your struggles out to him.
He wants us to pray to him honestly and to trust him to hear us.
It is often through deep, honest conversation with God about things like this that we grow the most in our spiritual lives.
So bring your struggles to him in an honest way, beg him to remedy your sufferings, and ask him for the help you need to trust.
Ready to give online dating with Catholic Singles a try? We’ll help you fill out your online dating profile in just a few minutes, then connect you with single Catholic men and women . . . who you can message for free! Download the new Catholic Singles online dating app today.