Wisdom and Hope in a Secular World ~ Guest Post by Britt

No introductory words from me can summarize all the wisdom and hope contained in this guest post by Britt from Proverbial Girlfriend.  Britt, thank you so very much.

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Wisdom from Heaven

Wisdom & Hope for the Single Girl in a Secular World

First, a thank you to Cindy for this opportunity to guest post. I am humbled by her kind words and in praise of her ministry to us young women. While we respectfully disagree on some of the details of the mysteries of life, we both value our dignity as daughters of God and want to encourage young women to live it out as they discern their vocation to the married life.

Last week I found myself belting out the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s latest ear worm “22.” While the real song is catchy, I found I was reminiscing, not relating, to the lyrics.  If I relate to anything at 28, it is to most of the experiences of the slightly older woman in the parody video spoofing it called “32.”.

It’s funny because it’s true, I thought.  But sometimes it’s also sad and scary to think that in 3.5 short years I could be like her and never again have the youthful verve of me in my early twenties still trying to figure things out.  And finding it harder and harder not to succumb to the current culture’s prescriptions for this life.

Having been an adult single Catholic woman living in a secular world but striving not to be of it for a whole decade, I feel like in some respects I’ve been around the city block and could tell you a thing or too.  So here’s some wisdom, followed by a dash of hope for the slightly older single gal in the secular world:

It’s Not For Pete’s Sake:

When I started dating at 22 (really!) and then enduring the inevitable single phases in between CatholicMatch-es, I often thought I only had to do something, and then I’d get Pete, the boyfriend who would become fiancée. Things like:

– improve myself and be more holy

– lead my brother back to Christ, because then I’d know I could lead a husband and family to Him, too

– “believe it and be satisfied.”  I, too, in my happy-side of 25, loved this poem. And I believed that if I became wholly satisfied with God and Jesus, Pete would appear in my pew on Sunday.

Uhm, no. After a few years of striving and making some headway into my spiritual life and that of mine around me, I realized that a man is not quid pro quo from your prayer to God. Because our primary vocation is to know God, to love Him, and serve Him so we may one day be united with Him, it is for His sake that we grow in virtue, evangelize, and seek a personal relationship with Him. If you find yourself overloaded with activities or frustrated that all your efforts are getting you nowhere relationship-wise, step back and go to the Lord (and maybe even a spiritual director) and see what your motivations are. A holy relationship can be a nice bonus, but it should never be the goal before God.

You Might Be Veiled, But Some Guys Have Paper Towel Roll Binoculars

I’m personally still mulling over Cindy’s concept of the veil . If we women have veils, what do men have? Well, I like to think that the good ones walk around wearing those funny glasses with the shades down until they are ready for marriage, and then their clear lenses help them see the women around them. And then there are the other men. Sin, brokenness, and simply poor formation have led a lot of the 25-35-year-old men running around the world (and parish halls, even) wearing only those binoculars made out of paper towel rolls, like they’re five years old. They have artificial constructions of what they’re supposed to see of the world—and worse, it’s very narrow and limited in perspective. While it is never a good idea to date a person with the intention of performing a radical conversion that he is not evening seeking for himself, it is possible that one day they can swap out their crude spectacles for the proper ones. It takes time and God’s grace.

I have realized after meeting many men of various levels of Catholic-ness, that deep down, they too, are scoping out for authentic communion and true joy—but they were never told what that properly looked like or where to find it. So they are stumbling in the darkness. Or they have removed their binoculars and are still squinting in the brightness of the sunlight. It takes time and grace for them and a whole lot of strength on your part to be able to wait for that moment. If you find yourself considering a relationship with someone less than perfectly faithful but striving for it, always witness to Love; never compromise on your morals or principles.  If he is ready for this love, he could be the one to lift his glasses and your veil. If not, it will be painful, but God will be there to hold you. The burden is always on the guy. Never ever believe such a thing is your fault. You are worth being pursued.

It is All for Something

Finally, the hope part. After living in Boston, in some ways one of the most Catholic cities I’ve encountered but also the most liberally secular, I can tell you:

There are good men out there—but are you? I am not advocating female pursuit, but presence. Presence in faith communities (with the right intentions), presence online (if you feel comfortable with that), presence in social groups. A dear friend of mine finally married at 42 a man she met in a few of her Meetup groups. Though he was baptized and fallen away, he sacrificially loved her, and before he proposed, he first became the man he needed to be to be her husband and re-start his spiritual journey. If she wasn’t present in the world, she might have missed him.

Your witness to Love means something to the world, even when it seems like it doesn’t. I will never forget the moment when two very different (and secular) friends of mine, at different times, expressed their admiration and in one instance, a kind of sad envy at my desire for chastity in a relationship (Note: you do not have to be a cheerleader; be discreet about your personal history and choices, even if you’re as pure as a saint). A work-in-progress guy I was seeing once marveled at my strength of heart (okay, here’s where the burden can fall on us). But think how powerful it is to say “I don’t just care for you, I care for your soul.” The right guy will be the one who can say those words to you—and then prove it.

– Love of and for God trumps all, because joy is always possible. The hardest truism I learned from being 22 to feeling 32 is that there is no guarantee you will get married, and in the anguish of accepting that, begin to doubt God’s very call. That is what Adam and Eve did. They doubted God’s goodness and intentions from withholding them from the Tree. Doubt is as pernicious and painful a sin as envy . But you are not horrible for this. While you are a daughter of Eve, with Christ, you have been redeemed as a daughter of Mary. Ask Jesus to see the hope that Mary had when she did not doubt our Father’s call for her, especially when it meant not living the life she thought she was supposed to. God saw her through the radical change; and God will see us through ours with His love. Even if we do not marry our helpmate, if we remain in loving relationship with Him, we will see the joy we seek.

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6 thoughts on “Wisdom and Hope in a Secular World ~ Guest Post by Britt

  1. “I have realized after meeting many men of various levels of Catholic-ness, that deep down, they too, are scoping out for authentic communion and true joy—but they were never told what that properly looked like or where to find it. So they are stumbling in the darkness.”

    Thank you. As a young Catholic man, you’re only told two things: that you’re a horrible sex-crazed monster, and that you should consider being a priest. Whether you’re the most chaste daily mass-goer in the parish or someone who left after Confirmation and never looked back, it’s the same two things. I’m constantly surprised at how much Catholic women *learn* about being single and looking for marriage — either officially or from each other. So, all many of us guys know is that we don’t know what to do: those of you women with wonderful husbands found the men who had that greatest of mentors, and that resource that single Catholic women seem to actually have: mentors who can explain what to expect and what to do, rather than to try to parse what not to do by filtering the secular teaching of Hollywood through Catholic morality and coming up with more questions than one started with.

    Britt, I can’t say that I’m too familiar with this particular Taylor Swift earworm (although I’m somewhat ashamed to say that I have clips of other Swift songs now stuck in my head, from hearing them playing in doctors’ offices and the like), but this thread is a beautiful thought all around, especially that zinger which I quoted above…

  2. I enjoyed reading this post. I’m 23, but I’ve never had the kind of life described in Taylor Swift’s “22”, and I doubt many of my peers have either!

    I’d never heard of “Believe it and be Satisfied”, but I just read it now, and I’m glad I didn’t know about it before. I can see the message, but I have some problems with it, the main one being the implication that a romantic relationship is “earned” (“And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you. With a love far more wonderful than you would ever dream.”). It also suggests that everyone will eventually end up in a romantic relationship if she/he so desires (which isn’t true). This kind of “poetry” really irritates me, to be honest. I doubt the writer had anything but the best of intentions, but the poem is pretty thoughtless in a few ways.

    What I find more challenging than being single is that I’m an introvert. I’m not shy or under-confident or socially awkward, and it’s quite possible that no-one would even pick it up, but I very often feel quite detached from other people, and I rarely feel that I have a particular connection with anyone. This is one way in which Taylor’s “22” is foreign to me – I don’t have a huge group of super-close friends who live nearby and with whom I can spontaneously spend lots of time. Everyone’s way too busy – work, uni, boyfriends. So I guess it’s just as well that I’m okay with spending time alone.

    • Hi Julia! I agree with you that the poem indirectly implies that. I feel certain that Britt does not believe that romantic relationships are earned and I do not either. I captured my thoughts in the post There Is No Formula. There Is No Formula.

      There is truth that staying in the will of God is the *wisest* approach to finding our vocation. But, it is no guarantee. Thank you for visiting and for your comment. I have added you to my Divine Mercy Chaplet prayer list and hope to see you back here more. I love watching the Lord work in other’s lives. Cindy

  3. Pingback: 7QTF: Random Edition | Proverbial Girlfriend

  4. Thanks for those great words of wisdom! Sometimes I feel closer to 32 than 22 (which is reality) – and just want to lay my head down and be done with it all! I feel like all we can really do is be present where God has us and joyful. Yes, I want to be married, but what I really want is to be happy. And I know that there is just one thing that will make me happy – being with the Lord. I mean, if I have the most handsome husband in the world, but don’t get a shot at eternal life at the end, then what’s the point?

    It’s not easy though – only during my most rational days am I able to really see that desire clearly!

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