We had an amazing day on the 27th of August, the inaugural Totus Tuus Women’s Conference. Thank you to all who attended, we were just over a hundred in attendance and the reception we had was phenomenal.
As promised (albeit later than I had hoped) here are the cliff notes and links to all the information I gave in my talk. As I mentioned then, most (if not all) of my talk is NOT original, and the content is derived from many sources, men and women I read and listen to for their insights. I hope it inspires you in some way and helps you to find your voice in being a woman of God. A precis (LOL, it was 8 pages long so yeah I’ve shortened it a lot) outline of what I said is below. To those who did not manage to come maybe this will make sure you get a ticket early for next years conference 🙂
Talk outline and some points.
We live in a society whose culture makes marriage seem like the be-all and end-all; as if being single is a disease that is cured by having a man – even a church marriage is usually elevated as the better vocation albeit unintentional I’m sure. This leads to us being very discontent with our season of single-hood. How do we then deal with single life and the unique challenges it brings, and yet not feel as if we are failing the very core of our beings by not being married yet? How do we prepare for a married life – or not in case the season is longer than expected? We wonder how do we wait till marriage? The decisions we make now and habits we form will affect our future marriages and the men we marry, how do we not make the wrong ones?
Emily Stimpson proposes 3 principles to live by,
- Holiness not our husbands is the goal of our life
- God has something for us to do right now and he expects us to do it well
- The means for joy in life are always sufficient
Living the universal call to holiness
God loves us as we are, as singles, and we do not have to change that to be ‘enough’. We belong to God in our whole entirety, body, soul, and insecurities. It is our unique combination and set of circumstances that is our gift. Our passions, personal history, and a myriad of relationships make us perfect now for His purpose in our lives. There is so much more to a single person than their state in life. Our belonging to God, our holiness, this universal call to holiness, is certainly not dependent upon our marital status. But we are made to believe it does sometimes.
The church’s understanding of vocation provides a wide vision for singles. Whether we are single or married, male or female, old or young, gay or straight, our fundamental call as Christians is the call to love. Our Lord warns us in many ways, in different parables against negligence, carelessness and half-hearted love. A loving heart is a vigilant heart, both over itself and over others because God also expects us to be watchful and on guard over those who are especially united to us by the bond of faith, of blood, and of friendship. How do we begin to express this love, that is all consuming, to feel it for God and then for the people around us? The bible said they knew they were Christians by their love – whoa! Mind boggling! When was the last time you met a person and declared to yourself they must be a Christian because that is Christ’s love right there shining in and through them?
We can begin slowly by acting justly; don’t do wrong, serve others, do not allow injustices. How often do we allow someone to bad mouth another, and look the other way…and we don’t get involved. Do we gossip and slander? Love mercy and walk humbly; don’t let pride be the stumbling block between yourself God and others.
We have made a choice for God
The main reason we are in this situation is because we have made a choice. We are all beautiful and if we wanted any odd marriage to any odd guy, we would be married now. If all we wanted was just a husband, we would find it like that. The problem is we want the right marriage to the right guy who will bring us closer to God. And yes men who meet the bar are few and scarce, because by definition those who are serious about their vocation discern it and carry it out as soon as they know; that is, they marry or enter the seminary knowing that is where their call lies.
The challenge it seems is that few of the men left seem to meet the standards I and other single ladies have set. Some think our standards are too lofty. I again, borrow from Emily and give a short list of our basic standards (she says it perfectly, watch the video below!)
We want to date quality men, with whom our relationship will be able to mature into a healthy Christian marriage. So our basic standards are along these lines:
- Free to marry in the church
- Does not expect me to commit a mortal sin before and after marriage
- Respects my faith and willing to help me raise my children in the faith
- the usual; honest, loving, caring, wants to have family, showers once in a while.
But culture says its crazy high, but these are reasonable standards because it’s what God wants for us. The crux it seems is on finding a Catholic or Christian guy, who is not a cafeteria Christian, you know those who pick and choose what they want from God’s teaching as according to what feels right for them that day. So we keep a look out for this elusive unicorn, and wonder if that guy over there could be him or if it’s this guy helping at the church braai.
The gifts of the season of single-hood – using your gifts and being gift, living an intentional single life
Be Mary and Martha at the same time (yes I’m and Audrey Fan!). Like Mary, cultivate a life of prayer and service to God. Immerse yourself in His presence by praying and going to Adoration. Like Martha ask Him which ministry He wants you to join and join it, or two or three. You have the capacity to do this now before family comes. Become a gift, pray for others and love them by serving them, and in doing this you can stave off loneliness and despair and fulfill your call to love and holiness.
Glorify God with your life
Answer the churches call to show our feminine genius in public life. Bring your feminine genius to the workplace, make people feel valued, make sure the human person is the centre of all our professional activity. Because we don’t have families we are at the front line for answering that call, so for as long we are single we need to figure out what work God has for us, and do it, to impress God and no one else. Do it well, everything we do is to glorify God and mediocrity does not glorify God.
- Discernment doesn’t mean sitting around and waiting for God to drop a spouse in your lap. It means actively looking for people, social events, opportunities to become a more complete version of yourself and looking for ways to live out a more meaningful life. No, it’s not getting out of your comfort zone and going clubbing because that’s where the guys are. As Jason Evert likes to say, run towards the Lord, do what He wills you to do, then check who is running alongside with you. Seek the Lord, bring all your fruits to God and ask Him to show you how to be open to the relationship he wants for you. This is freaking hard work!
- Be invested. It is clear whether a person is invested or not. If you are sitting back and assuming that God will let it happen, but going along on your regular routine you’re not dating on God’s time, but on your own time. You are intentionally holding something back
- Become the best gift you can be by seeking advice and help in improving yourself. Find a person you trust a counselor or spiritual director, someone who can help you find your blind spots, the areas that need healing, your fears, and assist you to work through barriers that stop you from co-operating fully with God’s will.
- Don’t wait for a gift-wrapped spouse. Focus on growing closer to God and allow yourself to be delighted by his surprises.
- Do enjoy your single years!Yyou may be there a long time so don’t short-change yourself in the living department, do your best and Glorify God; don’t live a mediocre life – that new sport or hobby? Start it. And if the season of singleness is short, you’ll still be all the better for it
- Try not to get too set in your ways -> I don’t know how to combat that one if you figure it out let me know
- Do have standards, know your lines which cannot be crossed, like he is an addict, an abuser, he does not want marriage or kids and stay away from those heart-breakers. But don’t be so stiff-necked as to let a good man pass you by because he does not fit a certain mould
- Do remember that you too have a call to love and to love deeply your friends’, your family and to be an advocate for those who need it; act justly.
- Don’t missionary date, there-in lies a road to heartache. If you go out with a non-believer then understand what that means to you and what it will look like practically. If he respects you and your faith and you can talk to him about it, if he brings you closer to God and not further he just may be the one the good Lord calls you to that vocation with. Know it will not be easy, and be OK with it. Don’t expect him to convert, but you can definitely pray for it and ask God to use you as vessel in his life
- Do be open to Gods prompting and re-discerning ever so often to see what He wants of you today, it may have changed from yesterday.
- Pray for those who are in despair and lonely because you have all been there, then actively help them out of the funk
- So to the married people here, yes give us advice but vary it; don’t just tell us to go out more, rather invite us to a lunch with potential partners. Pray for us, searching and non-searching alike, for those of us that you know are seeking that guy, introduce us to someone you know, it may be the beginning of something wonderful and we will make you one of our children’s godparents 🙂
Inspiration and content sources
Emily Stimpson, Beth Knobbe, Greg and Lisa Popcak, Melinda Semys were all over this talk, it was actually more theirs than mine 🙂 Thank you blogoshpere.
When you have an hour to spare watch Emily Simpson as she gives this amazing talk on her book The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years
Then go over to these sites to read their views on some of the issues that affect us as singles.
- Bethe Knobbe on US Catholic -> Flying Solo: Life as a Single Catholic
- Melinda Selmys’ post on Patheos -> Married to St. Raphael: Why so many good Catholic girls stay single
- Greg and Lisa Popcak on CatholicMatch -> Are You Dating On God’s Time or Your Time?
- Therese Aaker’s post on Focus -> This Is What Really Holds You Back In Dating
- An ebook from the Knights of Columbus -> Dating: A Practical Catholic Guide by Jason E King
Then watch Janette…Ikz perform her poem that I reenacted.
Diana is a radically pro-life catholic young fogey! Enjoying life and seeing where the good Lord leads is her passion, thou at times she wants to take control and finds it difficult to follow or hear Him.