Believe it or not, for a good part of my life I have been very shy.
The thought of being social, of walking into a room and having to make small talk with total strangers terrified me. And the thought of trying to impress a handsome man in such a situation kept me home on more than one occasion.
Over the years of growing in my faith I have put aside that fear, but it hasn’t been easy. It took a lot of learning to put my trust in God who created me. When I have confidence in the Lord, I can do things that terrify me – even spend a weekend with people I’d never met.
To make CatholicMatch work for you, you must get out and meet people. Simple logic dictates that, but often our fear about meeting people for the first time gets in the way of attending events, get togethers and simple dinners out. CatholicMatch events are listed under the community bar and are planned entirely by fellow members.
One of the great blessings of being on CatholicMatch is the chance to actually form friendships with people before we meet. This was the blessing of my first event more than three years ago. I drove six hours toGeneva, Il., to meet 20 to 30 other members. The event was organized by two women I had gotten to know from posting in the forums. Lissette had offered me a place to stay at her house.
What made me decide to take this weekend road trip in the middle of February?
I felt like I already knew these beautiful women who were inviting people to celebrate our faith together with Mass, dinner and socializing. Their vibrant personalities came through the forums and I felt at ease with them.
Plus, if I got up there and felt like things weren’t going well, I had some family in the area.
My male and female friends from that weekend have encouraged me to meet hundreds of other people from this site in a variety of ways. I might not end up attending something because of my finances, work schedule or other obligations, but not because I am timid about meeting people. Because I’ve learned to trust God’s goodness in me, I am eager to meet other people He brings into my life.
So I encourage those of you who have never attended a CatholicMatch event to consider it. And here some helpful hints for attending a CatholicMatch event.
- Get to know the people who sign up before you go. Use the events page on CatholicMatch and the forum threads in the Get-Togethers For Members Room. Communicate with other interested parties, especially the people organizing it or have obviously attended events before.
- Don’t make your attendance contingent upon who else is possibly going. Go because the Lord speaks to you to go. You may be the draw for the one you want to meet, but if you don’t go because he or she hasn’t signed up, you both have lost out.
- Some events are more expensive than others. The recent CatholicMatch Ireland trip took long-term planning and significant money for both the attendees and the planner. A once in a lifetime trip to be sure, but not all events require a lot of resources. The annual summer CatholicMatch LifeFest in Wisconsin, for instance, offers accommodations at an affordable Catholic retreat center. The upcoming CatholicMatch 3rd Annual Indy Fall Farm Outing is very economical, with no expense for accommodations.
- Don’t go expecting romance. Go expecting to meet wonderful people. Romance usually doesn’t happen in one weekend, but you may very well meet your future spouse there. I know at least three married couples who met at weekend events.
- A good organizer (we have some of the very best!) is aware that attendees meeting others for the first time can be very stressful. Name tags, ice breaker activities, and get-to-know-you conversations are utilized. Special needs are attended to. Efforts are made to put people at ease.
- Sleeping arrangements are always in line with Catholic morality, conscientious of modesty and avoiding scandal. I recommend sharing a hotel room with one to three other people. First, you get to share more of the experience. Secondly, it does help cut down the expenses.
- Weekend events offer packed schedules with many things to do. Usually there is some built-in downtime. I find that I use this time to get to know individuals a little bit deeper. Introverts often use that downtime as “me time.”
- Every event I have gone to has included a strong Catholic identity. If it is a weekend event, we attend Mass together. That’s my favorite part of any weekend. We share meal prayers and the rosary as well.
- Bring your camera. Once the event is over, everyone who couldn’t make it but wanted to (often me!) will want to see your pictures posted.
- Be ready to laugh, feel like a kid and sleep very little. We know that the event is a rare opportunity for all of us to have fun so we soak up as much of each other as we can.
I hope that you and I get the chance to meet in person at one of our upcoming events.
I hope, too, that more members will be open to hosting events, get-togethers and dinners in their own areas. This is what it means to be Church. What better way is there to find the love that God intends for us than through our shared relationships with other single Catholics?