It was the year 2004 and I was several months shy of turning 36 years old. I had just come out of an unrealistic, but in my mind hopeful relationship. During its four-month lifespan, I was happy and not lonely, excited for my future for the first-time in a very long while. I experienced a renewed sense of energy that had been missing. When the relationship ended, so did all of these.
I was so very confused. The big dark question looming in the pit of my stomach was, “Did God have a spouse for me? Would I indeed marry one day?” To be honest, I was quite despondent at the situation. I had never married. I wanted to share my life with someone. After the positive, yet unrealistic experience I just had, I kept wondering why God would want to see all of this leave my life. Would he really want to never see me married? At the time, I did not know that these questions would lead me on a journey of discovery of truth regarding the Catholic Church and the very institution of marriage itself.
I was raised in the Catholic Church. At the age of 17, I stopped attending mass and left the Church altogether in my mid-twenties. Over the next ten years, I would attend various non-denominational evangelical churches. The prevailing wisdom or “theology” at that time was that if God had a spouse for you, marriage would occur naturally. In other words, you would meet someone, date, get engaged, and get married. And, this is was happens for so many people. No drama. No problems. No major issues. However, not all of us are this fortunate. When it didn’t happen this way for me, the advice I was given at the non-Catholic church I attended was that I needed to accept that God didn’t have anyone for me. Or, some would say that not everyone is called to be married, some are called to be single. I needed to be content.
Well, I was never able to accept these words. The older I grew the harder this became to swallow. I could not bear to remain single for life, yet I felt so hopeless regarding meeting someone and having a relationship with the potential for marriage. I was very confused as to what God’s thoughts were on the subject. For example, what did God think about the idea of having hope for marriage and being single? I mean, God is so specific about very many things. He must have an opinion, a position on this subject as well!
It was this deep desire of mine to find hope that led to my discovery of startling truths about God’s desire for people to marry, even when it just doesn’t happen on its own. I can now say with confidence that it is good and right to pray as a single man or woman for a spouse. I believe that most of us are born with a God-given desire to marry. When the ability to do so is frustrated, it can lead to much hopelessness especially as one advances in years. I know because I lived it. I always tell people that there was no one more hopeless than me regarding this issue. It was in discovering God’s truth about marriage that I was set free. The truth set me free enough to be able to pray for a spouse with confidence that God would answer, as I knew it was his will for my life.
In 2010, I met my husband. In 2011, we were married just a couple of weeks before my 43rd birthday. I know without a doubt that I had a vocation to marriage and that God had us for each other. Our temperaments, humor, and service gifts match each other quite well. Our weaknesses also serve as a character-building project and to sanctify each other!
As we know, marriage is battlefield in today’s world. Less people are marrying than ever before. Also, there are many people out there struggling with a God-given desire to marry. If it just isn’t happening, what is one to do? I believe that knowing the truth about the calling to marriage will provide much needed hope to the singles of today. Rather than seeing the desire for marriage as separate from your spiritual life, it is part of your spiritual life!
When God fulfilled my desire for marriage by bringing me and my husband together, it was a significant answer to prayer. It was truly a miracle, to be honest. This one act, which was the culmination of so much prayer, reinforced to me that the God who sees saw me in my need. He knew that it was not good for me to be alone and that he had not forgotten me. It forever changed my life.
It is my hope that this blog will be a place of encouragement and inspiration for both men and women who believe they are called to marriage. I pray that my words and our interactions here will encourage you to boldly seek the God who can help you fulfill your vocation to marry.
By Julieanne M. Bartlett All Rights Reserved Copyright 2020