How to Live a Satisfying Single Life


I had a birthday last week. A really significant birthday. The kind with a zero in it. The kind that used to make me think “Wow, if I’m still single when I’m that age, I’ll be so upset. That would be really, really awful.”

I have often imagined going back in time, to tell my “younger self” all about the things that have happened, and how my life has turned out so far. And, knowing that “younger self” very well, I’m quite certain how the conversation would go. I would tell her all about the ways God has worked in my life, about the places I was able to visit and the talks I was able to give and the lives I have been blessed to touch. And she’d say “And who did I marry? I got married, didn’t I? How many kids did I have?”

And when I told her that hadn’t happened, she’d recoil in horror. After that, I don’t know what she’d do. To her, it would just be too awful to contemplate.

And I would tell her that it isn’t awful at all—that the one thing she fears more than anything doesn’t need to be feared at all. I would tell her that God is faithful, and that he blesses any life lived to follow Him. I would tell her that God has a plan—a plan that incorporates all of our missteps, our disappointments and even our sins, and turns it all into something beautiful.

My life has not turned out the way I thought it would. But I would say that, thus far, it has turned out very, very well. There have been crosses, of course. What life is without them? But there have been amazing blessings as well.

I didn’t have children, and this point I believe it is safe to say that I won’t. But God has brought children into my life—spiritual children, godchildren, nieces and nephews—and they have filled my heart in a way I never thought it could be filled.

I haven’t married—and I don’t know what the future holds in that regard. But God has brought amazing friends into my life. My community—like that of many single persons—waxes and wanes. Sometimes I am surrounded by lots of friends and family. Other times people move away, circumstances change and I find myself more isolated. But I have learned that God is always there, and that sustains me even in the difficult times.

God has shown me over time that my life won’t look like other people’s lives. But he has also amply demonstrated that there’s more than one way to have a good life—a very good, full, satisfying, blessed life. It comes not through seeing all of my dreams come true in exactly the way I’d planned them, but through fidelity to Him and His plan for my life.

I don’t think I could have understood all of this at 25, or even 35. Perhaps you can’t either. But I would strongly urge you to trust Him, and to really place your future in His hands.

He’ll take care of you. I’m sure of it.



  1. Monica-1006249 June 16, 2014 Reply

    Thank you for sharing this personal story Mary. I have had similar imagined conversations with a younger me as well. It is easy to get disheartened at times. I will often think that there is just something else I must accomplish before I can start the next era of my life, what is it I need to do Lord? I find myself living day by day as a means to an end, forgetting that it is our daily living that we are walking, breathing, talking God’s will. We are exactly where we are meant to be. The Lord Bless you and keep you!

  2. Chiquita-944276 March 9, 2014 Reply

    Mary Beth thank you for your beautiful witness and testimony of an amazing life rooted and grounded in Christ and his plans for you. For myself as a single, I feel like I go through phases with understanding this and being okay with it, but I’ve realized that the act of getting up in the morning and choosing to place my Trust in God has to happen every single day despite the many emotions I may be feeling, because in a life that is full of uncertainty, God is my only constant. Thank you and God Bless you.

  3. Richard-30413 November 19, 2013 Reply

    I would rather be single that wished I was as a Catholic I always thought that marriage was on the cards if you like as a form of rite of passage

    Now that I am older I look back on my life and firstly wonder how fast it went (now 53 years old) and yes as a male I would have loved to had met someone in my youth. Sadly this did not happen for me, my ‘youth’ was taken up being a carer to my father and as the saying goes time slipped me by. I do agree with the statement about the Pity Party and how dangerous it is to fall in to it

    I firmly believe that God has a plan for all of us no matter what all is required is to listen and look and listen and the opertunity will appear

    God Bless

  4. Melissa-407647 April 14, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for the encouragement, Mary Beth! I like reading your articles. God bless you.

  5. Kathy-355103 April 11, 2013 Reply

    Happy Birthday, Mary Beth! Great article. I can so relate also.
    I enjoyed your talk many years ago here in St. Louis.

  6. Rebecca-916035 April 10, 2013 Reply

    Thank you Mary Beth! I have been struggling with trusting God has a plan at times, and it is very uplifting to see someone so prolific and inspiring reflect on their life, planned by God. I hope I can adopt some of your wisdom.

  7. Liz-106116 April 10, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for sharing and belated happy birthday.

  8. Andy-896770 April 8, 2013 Reply

    Hmm.. I wish I could say I understand but I really don’t and I’m really frustrated. I don’t mean to be a downer but I just can’t see the light.

    • Luz-1055440 March 10, 2014 Reply

      Everyone has crosses. Some of us have a cross of being single. There is a scene in the Passion of the Christ where someone looks at Jesus and says He is a stupid because He is embracing his cross, which he is carrying himself. I think we don’t usually understand what that means. We need to love the good and the ugly… The ugly is the cross. And that cross is certainly way heavier when we reject it and want to put it down, and kick it and tear it apart. The cross lightens up when we carry it and pray to God for the desire to embrace it… And we embrace our burdens and offer the hardship to Him who carried the cross for the sake of you, for you to be able to be with Him in Heaven. Embracing the cross sounds bad, embracing the ugly is scary. But pray to God to help you embrace the cross, to embrace the ugly…

      For me, after someone dumped me after being engaged, the ugly could be getting to be an elderly without our own family. It sounds sad. Yet, I understood it is not the ultimate pain when I met someone who was a year younger than I when he passed away because of cancer… I understood I have to carry my own cross with dignity, because, after all, it is a light cross, because I am still alive and have the chance to hug the people I love, while that person had that big cross of leaving his children behind when called by God… Embracing the ugly doesn’t happen overnight. But pray to God for the desire to embrace the cross… And He will provide…

    • Yvonne b. March 17, 2014 Reply

      I agree.

  9. Kathryn-786593 April 8, 2013 Reply

    Happy birthday, Mary Beth! Thank you for all you’ve given to the Church.

  10. Maria-833789 April 8, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for your great post!!!! Happy birthday!!! May you fill with His abudant love.. God Bless

  11. Debbie-514749 April 8, 2013 Reply

    Thank you Mary Beth….
    Truly needed to hear this right now. May God Bless all that you are & do…

  12. UrsulaLaila-620150 April 8, 2013 Reply

    Our faith to the Lord Jesus will goona make us stronger..No matter what!

  13. Stephen-882753 April 8, 2013 Reply

    That’s very encouraging and assuring.

  14. Donna-667906 April 8, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for your encouragement, positive outlook and faith-sharing.

  15. MaryClaire-847709 April 7, 2013 Reply

    Thank you Mary Beth, that was very well-put, and encouraging!!

    I still remember when you came to speak to my confirmation class at Our Lady of the Visitation in Colorado, and talked about “pizza love” and “real love”=) You do great work!! God bless!

  16. Danny-928754 April 7, 2013 Reply

    I really enjoyed reading that. I am only 28, but I am completely content being with someone or not. I had a daughter 4 years ago and she has strengthened my faith. In addition, there are 5 other children from my siblings who follow Christ’s word blindly. It’s the blind faith of a 4 year old that has transformed my feelings about being single. It’s not about what we want, it’s about being happy with the moment and God’s love.

    Thank you again Mary Beth for sharing that.

  17. Steven-958229 April 7, 2013 Reply

    One of my hobbies is genealogy. If you look at my family tree you see that none my siblings has children and we lost my older brother last year. I have been single all my life and I have had only one “Real” girlfriend(it lasted six months before I ended it). I Used to “hate” being single and I would live at the Pity Party. Now I am more or less happy being single. However I need to start taking more effective actions.

  18. Beverly-936499 April 7, 2013 Reply

    Great positive post. Our life is our life. Let us love our life and be glad in it.

  19. Jennifer-939674 April 7, 2013 Reply

    Oh can I relate… with no children of my own, no family I produced, I have often wondered what I have to leave this world…. my life has not turned out like I thought it might… yet I have done so much and have so many other wonderful things that have happened. We need to remember to focus on what we do have and not the negative.

  20. Maggie-900710 April 7, 2013 Reply

    The same thoughts and outlook I’ve had after being a single mom for more than 10 years. Although, I have one child, I can relate to the author’s sentiments of not married and having no children as I have a friend who is a widow and has no children yet her life is blessed with a fabulous job that keeps her travelling around the world (at least 3-4 countries in one year), a dozen nieces and nephews, wonderful parents and fabulous friends of course;)

  21. Jacqueline-198 April 7, 2013 Reply

    Great story,and boy can I relate.

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