[callout]This post is an excerpt from chapter 3 — “Providence: A Reason For Reckless Abandon” — of my forthcoming book, Chastity Is For Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin, (Ave Maria Press, 2014).[/callout]
There are no warm and fuzzy feelings in discovering, while walking and talking with a friend and her boyfriend, that I am talking to myself because they stopped ten feet back to hug.
. . . Being single is especially difficult during holiday seasons, or at theme parks, where—nearly without fail—I am sandwiched between couples in lines for rides, uncomfortably privy for upwards of forty-five minutes to all the ways they can publicly display their affection. What they are is a reminder of what I’m not: taken.
But I have had to learn to snap out of self-pity when it hits, because feeling sorry for yourself when you’re unhappy doesn’t make you happy. Changing your perspective does. When we feel unhappy, is it because we’re single or is it because of what we say to ourselves about being single?
“Nobody wants to be with me.”
“I’m clearly not attractive.”
“I’m going to be alone forever.”
First, prove it. And second, when you can’t prove it (and I promise you can’t), consider, is it possible to feel happy while thinking thoughts like that?
Years ago, I stumbled upon a quote on the Internet, attributed to Argentinian poet Antonio Porchia: “He who makes a paradise of his bread makes a hell of his hunger.” Single people who believe they’ll be happy when they’re in a relationship condemn themselves to unhappy existences until they’re romantically involved—which isn’t even wholly within our control. What all of us can control, however, are our thoughts.
Thankfully, I am surrounded by people who make that easy for me. I come from a family that has never pressured me to find a husband. My parents are in no rush to be grandparents, my brother in no rush to be an uncle. My own grandparents are fast to remind me: “You have time,” they say. “You’re young.”
Not everyone I meet has it so good. Many friends report a different reality—one in which parents, siblings, colleagues, dentists, hairdressers (and a host of other meddlers) consistently remind them of their marital statuses. Even if we are comfortable with our being single at thirty, forty, or fifty, somebody else probably isn’t. But is somebody’s inquiry into your marital status based on his or her hope for your happiness, or on a need for his or her own? Does your mom want you to get married because you’ll feel better, or does she want you to get married because she’ll feel better?
This—others’ focus on how single we are—is another opportunity to practice patience and self-control, virtues at the heart of chastity. And even if other people don’t see it, we know a lack of current romantic involvement can be part of God’s plan for a person’s life, no matter to what vocation he or she is ultimately called.
[callout]Chastity Is For Lovers is on sale Nov. 28. Click here to pre-order it.[/callout]