I Jumped Out Of My Comfort Zone Into….NCSC?

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I Jumped Out Of My Comfort Zone Into...

I am constantly fascinated by God and his plan for our lives. When I look back on where I was in life seven years ago, I wonder if God was laughing or poking me. Back in 2010, I attended Mass regularly and I was working for Headquarters Air Force during the day as a full-time reservist. By night I was dancing four to five nights a week at various salsa clubs or dance studios because dance was my passion.

Aside from dance, I had constant reminders that I was still single. I half-longed to have a dance partner to dance the night away with or a steady date to take to the numerous weddings I was invited to. I was always the third wheel at hangouts with friends, but I appreciated having friends who had successful marriages (so that I could secretly take notes on how I would treat my future husband). I had plenty of single friends, but none of them were really Catholic, and I think I longed to explore my faith and have a deeper relationship with God, but I was having a lot of fun dancing.

Finally, my chance to meet the man of my dreams

I honestly don’t remember how I found out about the National Catholic Singles Conference, I think there were flyers in the narthex at my home parish. I just remember registering when I learned it was going to be right here in San Antonio, TX. I thought this would be my chance to meet the man of my dreams!! Now, what’s important to know about me is I am bold. I attended this conference with one goal in mind: to find a husband, and I attended the conference alone.

I attended my first NCSC with one goal: to find a husband. Click To Tweet

After picking up my packet and name tag I remember walking by the long row of Catholic vendors looking at religious articles, books, CDs and t-shirts. I looked around at the already growing crowd of people, searching for a familiar or kind face. I noticed the wide range of ages and cultural diversity. I appreciated not being the only black person in the crowd and seeing the universal church around me.

I also realized that all my boldness faded away because I was around a lot of women who were prettier, taller and certainly thinner than I was. I felt self-conscious so I found a seat near a nice-looking Indian guy and made small talk with him.

The first activity was an icebreaker, and I thought it was my chance to meet my future boyfriend! After a few quick conversations, I started to feel discouraged. I observed men talking to me, but looking for the next hotter female to talk to. I spoke to a few that were talking over my shoulder. After a few more of those, I decided to stop targeting Mr. Tall, muscular and handsome and just started talking to Mr. Nice, available and open. I met about three or four really nice guys that were also first-timers and unsure of how the weekend would unfold. The icebreaker was over and we would now hear from speaker Mary Beth Bonacci. Wait. What?

It’s the pizza love lady!

Mary Beth and I go way back. When I was in high school, I remember attending an event where a speaker talked about the difference between pizza love and real love. And she was here!!!! The pizza love lady!!! It’s funny how you remember simple analogies and how they resonate with you.

So I moved seats to sit near the middle front because she was going to speak to me! And boy did she! God delivered a message to me through her. She opened with something like, “I bet you’re all here looking for Mr. and Mrs. Right, right? WRONG! Your mission right now while you spend your purgatory on earth is to center your life around God and not to focus on finding your idea of the one.”

Excuse me?

She went on and built her talk from that concept, and it was as if a new concept was introduced to me. So…I’m not supposed to be actively looking for “The One?” I believed her. From that talk, my attitude changed. I realized I was acting like those other men earlier. If I didn’t find anything interesting about what he said in the first few minutes, I was already looking for someone more attractive to speak to. I think God slapped me in the face with that realization.

Your mission in life is not to find your spouse. Your mission is to center yourself around God!Click To Tweet

My weekend changed for the better

The rest of the weekend I really listened to the speakers. I took notes on what they had to say. I purchased the talks that really spoke to me and for the first time in my adult life, I saw young adults in adoration with arms extended towards Jesus, with voices singing without fear or embarrassment.

I experienced the single, universal church worshipping and loving God and I wanted more of those people in my life.

I experienced the single, universal church worshipping and loving God, and I wanted more of these people in my life!Click To Tweet

So I got out of my comfort zone. I went up to the pretty girls and spoke to them. I asked where they lived and what they did because I wanted my circle of friends to be more Catholic. I wanted to go to Mass with friends and hang out with nerdy, rowdy Catholics like myself! What I gained from the conference was exactly that.

A large group of us went to downtown San Antonio to have lunch after the conference ended on Sunday. Some of them were local salsa dancers that I formed friendships with, and a few from Austin informed me that there were young adult groups nearby that hung out and had activities together. While I didn’t come away with the man of my dreams, the God of my heart gave me friends so I wouldn’t be alone and despairing because I was still single.

Fast forward six years

I had two conferences under my belt and was actively recruiting friends from San Antonio to attend the NCSC conference in Dallas, TX. I offered my help to Anastasia before the conference and hours before my friends and I were to reach Dallas, I received a call from Anastasia’s sister, Mirjana, asking me to take the lead on the JFK Museum tour. I agreed, not knowing too much about what I was agreeing too, but I wanted to help.

You see, at this point in my life, I had one failed long-term relationship under my belt. I dated him for all the wrong reasons and ignored all the signs and indications that we shouldn’t be together. All because I wanted to have a boyfriend. God had been healing my mind and confidence since that experience and reiterating that all I really needed was him.

He taught me through stillness, adoration, Bible studies, real girlfriends and through family, that no man would ever fill the void I had inside of me. He taught me that real love doesn’t send you to confession. He taught me to wait patiently on him and if I were to remain single forever then I would be ok being forever his.

He taught me no man could fill the void inside. He taught me if I were single forever, I would still be forever His. Click To Tweet

I didn’t want people to fall into the loneliness trap

It’s funny, I was more excited to meet people at this conference to help them understand that what they longed for was the peace that surpasses all understanding. I am a networker and a connector and had started to focus on helping other new faces in the San Antonio young adult community feel connected to a community, so they didn’t fall into the same loneliness trap that I did.

So at this 2016 conference, I arrived with hope and joy in my heart. I learned to be open and spontaneous and say yes to whatever God called me to. So when I was asked to lead the Museum tour, I said yes!

Throughout the conference, I listened to the speakers and took notes. I also sat with people I didn’t know and engaged them in conversation. I heard the same message I had forgotten now and then as I watched and listened to some ladies voice their frustration of how they had not met anyone. I told them they might be happier if they were just open—open to the message, open to the experience and open to meeting friends. I could tell some listened and some just continued on the hunt to find the man of their dreams like I used to be on.

Maybe this is how God sees us

I had a small glimpse of what Father God sees in us. He tells us how to live, who to be and how to act through our parents, friends and teachers. He sometimes reveals our course of life when we read the Bible or sit in adoration. He smiles at us and shakes his head because we are stubborn, we don’t listen, and we want to have our own experiences. And then He opens his arms when we fall and come running back to him with bruises on our hearts.

While leading the tour, I met the man I have been dating for five months! #NCSC17Click To Tweet

I will be forever grateful to Anastasia for being a visionary leader and making the NCSC a reality. She has brought together many people who would have not otherwise had the chance to meet.

I thank Mirjana for calling me early Friday morning to ask if I would lead the JFK Museum tour because it was there that I met the man I have been dating for five months now! I am at a place in my life where I can honestly say, it was when I surrendered to God’s will that He opened doors in my life that I never thought would be opened.

Get up and go!

I urge you to be persistent in seeking the love of the Father first, before seeking the love of man or woman. Get involved in your local parish and put yourself in situations to be with like-minded Catholics. Go to or start up bible studies, attend local women’s or men’s conferences, grow in faith and take others with you! When you see the singles conference offered, GO!

But go and be open to what God will have for you and not your own agenda in mind. If you come away with more friends, or having experienced a different style of Mass or with a new rosary and t-shirt, GREAT! You won’t go away empty-handed. And if you walk away with a new relationship like I did, guard your heart, because you both are a layer upon layer of life, love, trust and failings and should learn to be friends first before anything else.

Please pray for me and I will pray for you. May God bless you on your journey of life.

 

Editor’s Note: Check out what other CatholicMatchers are saying about NCSC.



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12 Comments

  1. Venisha C. May 22, 2017 Reply

    Ademola, Thank you so much for your words and encouragement to attend this years NCSC.

  2. Dorothy-1090259 April 29, 2017 Reply

    Beautifully written and inspiring article!I have been toying with the idea of attending a NCSC and reading about you stepping out of your comfort zone gives me courage to step out of mine.Thanks for sharing Ademola!

  3. Tobias-1103924 April 28, 2017 Reply

    I don’t really know what to make of this article. On the one hand, we obviously can live and are called to live holy lives of discipleship while single. The author achieved that. Great.

    On the other hand, if you are seeking a spouse, and you don’t find one, then by definition you have not achieved the goal you set out for. I am not on this site indifferent to whether I find a spouse. I am here to find a spouse. If my primary goal (my immediate object) were simply to live a more holy life, I wouldn’t pay my renewal fee. I could find a lot more direct ways of serving the Lord than this.

    “If I didn’t find anything interesting about what he said in the first few minutes, I was already looking for someone more attractive to speak to. I think God slapped me in the face with that realization.”

    If your goal is to find a potential mate, I don’t know what the alternative is to walking away from people who aren’t a match. Whether or not the author stopped walking away in scenarios like that, it sounds like she’s still single (?).

    • Ademola-1134321 April 29, 2017 Reply

      Hi Tobias. I think you missed a lot of my points. The main point is to be open to what God has planned for you. A lot of us are on here because we feel called to marriage. If that doesn’t happen, would you be open to that? There are no guarantees in life except death…and taxes and heartache. By trusting in God’s plan for us, there is a little death to self and that is what I wanted to convey thru my experience. It was when I was open to all vocational possibilities did I meet someone. I met him at the conference but I didn’t make the point of the article, “you too can find a mate at NCSC, sign up today!!” It’s the experience of attending.
      He and I have been dating seven months now.
      May God continue to bless you on your journey.

      • Tobias-1103924 April 30, 2017 Reply

        Hi, Ademola,

        Thank you for your kind response. I pray that I would be open to whatever God has in store. However, if I might advance a critique of your article, it makes it sound like you went there *not* looking for someone, or you decided no longer to care.

        For example, what you wrote about wanting to break off a conversation when you’re not hitting it off with someone. Breaking off such conversations (in as tactful a manner as possible) seems like a prudent thing to do if you’re at a singles conference to meet someone. By definition, when you’re at a singles conference, expressions of interest should be interpreted as expressions of romantic interest. Holding out offers of platonic friendship or companionship seems to me to violate the implicit contract that participants in such things are making. Again, if I wanted to make friends, I wouldn’t go to a singles conference to do it.

        I would also add that my response is conditioned by the fact that I am an introvert. What you describe as the great time you had at the singles conference sounds to me like the definition of, at best, Purgatory. Attending a singles conference is absolutely not something I would be open to going to a second time if nothing meaningful resulted from a first encounter.

        Just a different perspective.

        –Tobias

  4. Diane-1285292 April 26, 2017 Reply

    The best “dating” (God?) advice I’ve gotten so far on CM. You are truly a disciple and I thank you for so succinctly sharing your experience that the rest of us may grow in Christ first, last, and always! Reading this article gave me the answer I have been praying for.

  5. Alan-895270 April 26, 2017 Reply

    Thank you, Ademola. I am 52, and I don’t when or if I will meet “the one”. Stay focused on God, and things will fall into place. It is ironic because our US culture now doesn’t want people in good, intimate. and lasting relationships. You have made the cry to go this way. Greatly needed. Pax Christi.

  6. Jacqueline-198 April 25, 2017 Reply

    Great article and it applies to all of us, no matter our age. It saddens me when I read of how a sister is so desperate for a relationship or feels too old for her dream to come true that she loses hope and forgets to Trust GOD who makes those dreams possible. Thanks again for the inspiration.

  7. Jovina-1361992 April 25, 2017 Reply

    Yes! Yes! And Yes!!! Thank you so much for such an inspiring yet simple article.

  8. Laurelie-898130 April 25, 2017 Reply

    Yes interesting article! Life is so precious and short, we need to enjoy it, whatever it brings. Get out there and do things, meet people.

  9. Stephanie-1368834 April 24, 2017 Reply

    +JMJ+
    I am truly thankful for your encouraging article. Currently, I am on a dating ‘fast’; not that I was dating much before. My first date was only several months ago. On a mission trip recently, I realized that God was calling me to be in a relationship with Him first, and thanks be to God, this has given me peace. God has a plan for each one of us; be it single life, married life, or religious life. Be that as it may, our hearts remain restless until they rest in You. I pray that God will continue to keep my heart open to His will; not mine. Keeping you in my prayers, Ademola!

  10. Michelle-950681 April 24, 2017 Reply

    What a hopeful and inspiring article! Thank you, Ademola.

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