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Prayer & Spirituality

My talk at the National Catholic Singles Conference went really well. It was well-received, and a lot of fun to give as well. All thanks to the Holy Spirit, of course. And to my 4-year-old niece, who provided the inspiration.

She spent the night at my house a few weeks ago. In the morning she noted that one side of my bed was made, but one side wasn’t. Never one to miss a teachable moment, I told her that it was because I’m not married, so I sleep alone. Which led to the following exchange:

 

          Her: When are you going to get married?

          Me: I don’t know, I guess when I find somebody I want to marry. Who do you think I should marry?

          Her: Bob

          Me: Bob? Who’s Bob?

          Her: I was just kidding. There is no Bob.

 

That line struck me as really funny, because I figured it’s probably a question we all ask ourselves: What if there is no Bob? What if that one person – the combination of faith and compatibility that constitutes our own personal “Bob” (or “Bobbi”, if you’re a guy) – doesn’t exist?

Based on the reaction at the conference, I’m thinking I was right: It is a question we all ask ourselves. Guys started going around with “I’m Bob” name tags. People were suggesting “Got Bob?” T-shirts. It served as a great running gag for the weekend.

But it’s a real question. What if there is no Bob? What if you never find that right person? What if you never get married? 

To some people, that seems like a fate worse than death. I have to admit that, 10 years or so again, I was one of those people. I just couldn’t imagine it. And yet, whenever the opportunity to marry – or to move toward marriage in a relationship – presented itself, prayerful discernment indicated otherwise.

I am happy to report that, 10 years later, I have found that life without Bob isn’t nearly as dire as I had predicted. It’s actually quite happy. I am still open to the possibility of marriage, but I can see with hindsight (in a way I could never see with foresight) how God has been with me, how He has sustained me in living in this “unnatural” state thus far, and how He has used these single years for His glory. 

I can’t see fully how He has used them – there are spiritual realities and spiritual fruits to our sacrifices that we will never see in this life. But one of the greatest fruits has been a clearer realization of who God is and who He is not.

God is not the Guy who fulfills our wish list or gives us everything we want. He’s the Guy who is with us through everything. “Hope” in God doesn’t mean hoping He’ll answer our prayers exactly the way we want Him to. It means we believe that He loves us, that He has a plan for our lives and that He will save us if we persevere in His grace.

So never finding Bob is a fate worse than death only for those who have placed this Bob in the center of their lives. Unfortunately, for those of us who are single, it’s very easy to do that. If we believe marriage is our vocation, and we want to fulfill it, we need Bob.  (Or Bobbi, of course.) And so it’s easy to get hyper-focused on our search for that elusive prey.

Step back, relax and take a breath. Vocation is important, of course. But our first vocation isn’t to marriage or religious life. It’s to holiness, simply allowing God to transform us more perfectly into His image and then following His will. We can live and love and grow holy without marriage or religious life. But we can’t do any of that without God at the center of our lives.

And that’s the truth, Bob or no Bob.

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20 Comments

  1. Jim-397948 February 12, 2012

    Reawakening to Love

    The season of love is upon us.
    The heart reawakens
    I reclaim my birthright
    and take a stand for my own self- worth
    and my innate ability to love
    and live in the embrace of love.

    I have had trouble with love in the past.
    I have been disappointed.
    My heart has been hurt.
    I was once lonely, angry, unhappy, sad, and worried.
    I used to believe you can’t find true, lasting, soulful love.
    But I choose to heal this now.
    I choose love and choose to find true love.
    I make a new choice to reclaim the innocence of the heart
    and reconnect to a deep and soulful love.

    -Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway

    • Ellen-289991 February 13, 2012

      Beautiful article and beautiful poem that Jim shared. Thank you both for sharing.

    • Dawn-664691 March 15, 2012

      Thank you for posting, Jim :)

    • Brenda-74660 May 1, 2012

      I like the Re-awakening to Love prayer….very nice….and timely in my case….

  2. Robert-3483 February 13, 2012

    Genesis 24: How Abraham finds a wife for his son —- if Rebecca did not provide water to the old servant of Abraham and his camels, she would not have been brought to Abraham’s son. Meanwhile, keep watering the least of His those around you.

    Gen 24 – The servant of Abraham (not romantically interested in Rebecca) states, “I thirst” (paraphrased).
    Mat 25 – “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” — ” ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’” — The foolish virgins, the parable of the talents
    John 19 – Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” They lifted a sponge with wine vinegar to Jesus’ lips. Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
    We all know that Jesus was dying for love. He hopes for just a bit more from us than a few drops of vinegar.

    • Ramona-738757 February 15, 2012

      If one truly believes that they are a child of God. Then you must believe that it is His desire for us to be happy. No matter what your social status. I don’t need the infamous, “Bob.” But, I most certainly need Jesus. “Bob” is just the icing on the cake, in the celebration of life. If I’m denied this extra, I can honestly say, I lived, I loved and I been loved. Not searching for it. Just wishing to share it.
      Thank you and bless you for this post.

  3. Kathy-355103 February 16, 2012

    I feel the same, Mary Beth. Great article!

  4. Vhie-763540 February 16, 2012

    Well..”Bob or no Bob at all” I will survive! I create happiness regardless of what will happen in my life. I do believe in the law of attraction though..as it has worked for some of my friends, their reality happened from what they believed…a happy ending story just like CM’s happy ending stories. My soulmate, my equal, a man with genuine faith and true heart is waiting to cross me too!

  5. Robert-486073 February 17, 2012

    Kids always seem to find the right words to say, even if we don’t.
    You are right Mary Beth, we can’t sit around waiting for lightning to strike, we need to continue on with our lives.This BOB waits for Bobbie to show up, MAYBE she will show up while I am trying to keep up with my 2
    teenagers. Keep the Faith.
    Robert,, BOB

  6. Josephine-611497 February 17, 2012

    Mary Beth this is a beatiful sharing. I loved what you said about us being called to holiness. Amen to that my sister. May your days be blessed.

    My hope is that all of us meet Jesus and have a relationship with Him regardless of anything. Wishing you all receive the love like the following stated in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance”

  7. Stacey-101742 February 18, 2012

    Thank you Mary Beth , I felt in reading your article , they could have been my own words . One thing that has forever changed my life in my journey thus far , is how much God loves me and despite all the losses , and humiliations through divorce , I put every thing in Gods hands and continued on doing my best , and in doing that , its been overwhelming the love , miracles answered, how God has sustained my life and restored my dignity , that for me , has been the most meaningful part in my journey and really strengthened my faith and deepened my love and trust for God . Words really can’t do what I have experienced , words are not enough , they fall so short , I just can’t believe how God paid attention to so many details in my life , that I never dreamed meant anything to Him , but the fact , that He blessed my life so much , has humbled me to tears of joy and appreciation of the deepest kind and the peace God has blessed me with , I am so thankful for how merciful God is .
    Thank you and God bless to all =)

  8. Dave-104327 February 18, 2012

    All women seem to be crazy so it is senseless to get married to one of them.

  9. Eileen-815340 February 20, 2012

    I strongly agree with this story. It was great and the truth.

  10. Siham-324602 February 26, 2012

    I have not been very successful in the area of lasting relationships – 3 proposals, none made it to the alter. In the midst of pain and confusion, doubt and loss I question whether I am being punished or protected. I see love work for so many around me: all my best friends, my 3 sisters, my cousins, and now even my God-children. I think it is so much easier to share in someone else’s joy when you do not feel starved. Being a single mom is a blessing, yet very difficult when there is no partner in my life to help me put things in perspective. I hate to admit my loneliness and the fact that I feel so misunderstood by those that are coupled-off. I don’t want so and so’s husband. I hate the feeling of being left out. Is it wrong to admit that I perhaps I am jealous of those that are in love? Since love comes from God and is a Sacrament, I wonder if God has forgotten me. You begin to feel somewhat defective, unworthy when you have given love a chance and the end feels like death. Can anyone relate?

    • Marita-847688 June 9, 2012

      I suggest reading a book called Captivating. I am in the middle of it right now, and I have the workbook. I got it years ago, but I couldn’t bring myself to finish the book. I picked it up again recently. Hopefully I’ll finish the book and workbook soon.

      • Marita-847688 August 25, 2012

        Yes, I can definitely relate. I’m trying to accept my singleness right now.

  11. Ivy-829026 March 8, 2012

    As a single parent, I am just so tired of people asking me when I’m planning to marry again. It’s been 8 years but it’s been a peaceful 8 years. What happened to being contented in our own skin and liking the person we’ve grown to be instead of wallowing in self-pity and hope for BOB or BOOBIE to complete our lives? Mary Beth hit a core…we’ll get married when we find that somebody to marry…or at least that’s how I see myself…

  12. Brenda-74660 May 1, 2012

    Great Article…and I must say even though my story took a few turns this year I still feel like God has been with me & continues to answer my prayers. With all that has happened in my life this year God feels closer than ever to me…. God Bless

  13. Carol-799486 September 7, 2013

    For me there is no Mr. right or Mr. wrong. Its like, when the shoe fits then he is the lone elusive prey that I’ve been praying for all my life.
    When we get along so well. When it seems like we’ve known each other for a long time. When we are both comfortable with each other. When ideas do not mesh but is agreed then I know he is the ‘ One ‘ . Not Mr. right but the One.

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