“Faith, Hope & Love” is proud to publish an exclusive excerpt of Amy Bonaccorso’s new book, “How To Get To ‘I Do’: A Dating Guide For Catholic Women.” This comes from chapter seven – pages 68-70, to be exact – titled “Growing outside yourself.”
If you come up empty year after year, is it really going to help if you keep doing the same thing over and over again? Stop trying to jam a circular puzzle piece into a square: The result is always unsatisfactory. Even if you’re getting dates, there is still a problem if none of those relationships lead anywhere. The goal isn’t to become a professional dater; it’s to get married.
The famous actor John Barrymore said, “Happiness often sneaks through a door you didn’t know you left open.” Many of us purposely close most of the doors in our lives, thinking that if we just leave one door open, God will be forced to deliver a prince through that one and only door. It could be the “daily Mass goer” door or the “makes over $100,000” door. When nobody comes through the door, we get bent out of shape and think, “Well, maybe I’m not supposed to be married.” Maybe you need to open up some doors and windows and let a breeze in!
Remember that Jesus is a roaming shepherd
Remembering how Jesus works in general can help us understand how he works with us when we’re dating. The Lord usually brings a conversion about through other people. As mentioned earlier, I’m a convert, and you might be surprised how the Good Shepherd reached out to me.
I was introduced to Christianity through a message board for a punk band, so I say, “I met Jesus online!” When I expressed my disapproval of a band member’s rumored adultery on the road, a youth minister agreed and innocently asked if I was a Christian. I wasn’t – but soon was, based on our lengthy conversations. It was the equivalent of Jesus hanging out at a club after a concert, chatting with people in the audience and handing out business cards. Fast-forward 10 years later, and I’m well-versed in my faith.
If Jesus sees and knows everything and is capable of converting people online, he might also bring you a husband in an unusual way.
The Christian cocoon
When you’re living in the secular world, it’s difficult to live fully and confine your social interactions to religious and squeaky-clean environments. Yet that’s exactly what some fervent believers try to do. After my conversion I thought I could avoid “backsliding” by surrounding myself with Christian people and only going to Christian events. I lived my life in a warm and fuzzy Christian cocoon of sorts.
Nevertheless, it seemed that some of the Christians in my upper-middle-class town went to church to keep up appearances rather than grow spiritually. It was as if they acquired a church membership to go with their McMansions. The cocoon approach can curtail authentic spiritual growth by restricting our exposure to human suffering and broader social issues.
With the downsides that cocoons have, God may choose not to deliver one of these cookie-cutter men to you. You’ll be forced to adapt and choose the best of the possible options.
It’s important to remember that most people outside the Christian cocoon are not bad, clueless, or completely misguided. There are good people out there who may not be of your exact same denomination or go to your same church but who really do have a relationship with God and share your core values. Some of them may blow you away with generosity and understanding, and you’ll recognize the Lord in them.
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for a second excerpt on “Faith, Hope & Love” next week.