“Are you ready to let go of your singleness?”
You might be wondering, “What kind of question is that?!”
If you are, I feel you. When that same question was posed to me three years ago – in the height of my own singleness – it took me by surprise too.
“What?! Let go of my singleness? I’m not holding onto my singleness! I’ll gladly watch it disappear. I’ve prayed and prayed for my future husband – the exact opposite of singleness. I haven’t particularly desired to be single for the past eight years of my life. What do you mean, let go of my singleness?”
You might be wondering who would even ask me a question like that. Well… it was God. I was sitting in a church pew of the chapel at the Bethany Retreat House in Dickson, TN, while on the same silent retreat where I was challenged to claim my vocation of marriage, when God posed this question to me.
It shocked me, to say the least. I had spent countless hours and years pouring my heart out to him, discerning my vocation, and ultimately asking him for marriage. “You know the desires of my heart,” I would say, “Lord, why are you withholding?”
As I sat there stunned, I began to look at things differently as I thought to myself, “Is it possible that I am holding onto my singleness?”
It turns out the Lord wanted me to see that I had gotten quite “comfortable” being single, even in my desire to no longer be single. I liked my freedom of being able to do what I wanted whenever I wanted without communicating it to someone else. I liked having the freedom to travel or adventure on my own with whomever I pleased. I kind of liked not having to coordinate with someone else the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. I liked that I could do things on my own time for myself.
Imagine my surprise, when I realized I had, in fact, been holding onto some aspects of my singleness. It startled me really.
I sat there before Jesus in the Monstrance on the Altar and thought to myself, “Those silly things are what I’m holding onto at the cost of living out my vocation?!” Essentially I had been absent-mindedly choosing selfishness and convenience over purpose. I was choosing selfishness and convenience over marriage.
God, who relentlessly waits for me to learn the things I am so slow to learn, was waiting on me. He was waiting for me to become aware of what my hands were already filled with at the expense of what He was waiting to give me. He was waiting on me to let go of everything that felt “comfortable”. He showed me that all those things that falsely felt comfortable were ultimately undesirable to me if it would cost me marriage. Then He gently brought it to consciousness and allowed me to see what He’s been seeing, what He had been waiting on.
How could I have possibly properly received my spouse with hands that were already full and a heart unwilling to become selfless enough to receive him?
So I sat there in that church pew and wrote out every last thing about my single life that I was ready to give up, and I gave it to Him. I gave God my single life, so that He could make me new, and give me new life, a life ready for marriage.
I don’t think God asks us to empty ourself so that we are no longer ourself. Instead I think he asks us to empty ourself so that we can know more fully who we truly are deep down inside.
He gives us opportunity to realize our priorities and the true desires of our heart. He reorders our priorities so they can be aligned properly and divinely. Then He fills us up.
Marriage is a vocation of total self-donation (from both people) over and over again. It’s dying to self. It’s becoming something new, together as one, with God as the center.
What is it that you are holding onto (single or not)? Whether it’s your singleness or your freedom or something altogether different, what is it that you are refusing to let go of?
I want you to call to mind the thing that you are struggling to let go of. Now I want you to ask yourself, is it worth it? Is it worth holding onto at the risk of losing something greater?
Sometimes we have to give up what we are holding onto in order for God to give us what He has in store for us. God’s goal in this is for right order and for purification of our hearts. He’s always, relentlessly preparing our hearts to be able to receive what He has in store for us.
So what do you choose? Will you continue to hold onto whatever you are unwilling to let go of, or will you choose to give it to God and trust Him with it?