As a person who was single until the age of 42, I would ruminate on all the possibilities as to why I could not meet a suitable spouse. All the reasons I could not sustain a relationship with someone for a reasonable amount of time. In our society where perfection is always the standard, I naturally concluded that my relationship failures were due to something that was wrong with me.
As I have shared in previous posts, I have always struggled with my weight. In my mind, this was the biggest obstacle in front of me. As I shared in an article published with Catholic Match Plus entitled, “People Told Me I Was Not Attractive Enough to Marry,” this issue was also on the forefront of the minds of the folks around me.
I also had a complex and broken relation with my mother, what today we would call a severe mother wound. Emanating from this wound was all kinds of relational difficulties, dysfunction, and low self-esteem. As a result, I did not believe that God would give me anything good.
I was in a constant state of actively trying to work on all these issues. I believed that is what I needed to do to fix myself so that I could attract the right man or be ready myself for when God brought my husband into my life.
To be honest, this mindset is in line with the prevailing thought of today. It is part of the “party line” stated to singles, along with the routine responses given on a regular basis.
When I was single, I would share my desire for marriage with others because I was looking for answers about God and what I could do to help my situation. Unfortunately, there were people around me not shy about proffering reasons for my single state. As I have shared in other blog posts, there was those who responded that, “God may have no one for you” or “Perhaps God has called you to be single.” I have addressed in previous blog posts how this response spurred me to seek God for his truth. I encourage you to read these, specifically: “Prolonged Singleness: Are You Stuck in the Single State?” and “The Vocation Awakening.”
But there was another response that I received as well, and this is the one that I want to address in this blog post: folks pointed out my various imperfections as the grounds for why I was not yet married. The rationales suggested to me ran the spectrum of looks, education, personality, and childhood issues.
Did these folks mean to be hurtful? Absolutely not. However, I do think that they genuinely believed that I was not a candidate for marriage because of certain perceived defects. This reasoning only served to confirm my own thinking – that I needed to keep striving – and it kept me running around like a hamster on a wheel in a tiny cage.
Unfortunately, in our broken world, the belief is that we must be perfect to get something. Or that we need to earn it. This is especially true regarding things delayed or withheld from us, like love and relationship.
Praise God that he does not work the same way. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) (NABRE)
You see, God does not deem our worthiness or marriageability based on standards prescribed by society. We all have value in God’s eyes, for “not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) (NABRE)
Marriage is a sacrament. God designed marriage to assist with our sanctification and help us get to heaven. If all our issues needed addressing to get married, how would marriage help us get to heaven?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) §1609, states that, “After the fall, marriage helps to overcome self-absorption, egoism, pursuit of one’s own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to self-giving.” All of us need assistance in overcoming these.
Also, marriage is a School of Love. “God who created man out of love also calls him to love – the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love. Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man.” (CCC §1604) This love cannot only transform us, but it can heal us as well. It is a crucible wherein God can perform much of his best work. This is because marriage is a mirror which reflects our issues to us. We can either really look at them and begin cooperating with God for healing. Or we can ignore them.
What about Matthew 19:10-12? Jesus specifically states that there are some people who are not capable of marriage because of other people. This is true. And working on these problems are different than resolving all your issues to attain a standard of perceived perfection. Think about it, do the espoused people you know have it all together? Absolutely not! God is healing each of them in their marriages, too.
Yes, one may need to change certain behaviors or interactions with the opposite sex. One may need to work on self-sabotage or limiting beliefs. A person may even need to ramp up their prayer life. But you do not need to be perfect or have it all together to get to the altar. If this were true, I would have never made it there.
Julieanne M. Bartlett All Rights Reserved Copyright 2021