Welcome to our Blessed Chats series! Each month, we will dedicate an entire week of blog posts to a topic that affects many of us. These conversations often come up in our Facebook groups and in our real life friendships. We want to share a variety of perspectives on the topic at hand, so we’ve asked women to share their stories and how the teachings of the Church have guided and comforted them. In this series, we’re talking about life as single women. We’d love for you to join the conversation!
I sat somewhat uncomfortably beneath the shade of tall pine trees, a gentle wind rustling the canopy and my hair. My journal rested in my lap. I was on a leadership retreat in high school, just learning that I could have a personal relationship with God in prayer. I fidgeted on the cold, hard ground and leaned in hard to hear Him.
Like a pen pal catching up a beloved friend after months of missing each other, I poured out my heart in those pages. My monologue of fears and failures, dreams and desires spilled over from one page to the next. But one question, one hope, dominated the landscape of my heart and the contents of that letter: my vocation.
I longed for romantic love, and was preoccupied with it. In every elementary school class I had a crush. Next I fell deeply in love with my junior high best friend. And in between classes as I walked my high school campus, my eyes and heart were always searching for someone. The one.
I always imagined having a love that spanned my whole life, so I was eager to get started. After sharing my perfect plan for a Perfect Marriage™, I put the question to Him. Would He send me this man?
And for the first time, I heard the Voice of the Lord in prayer. One clear, pure word settled in my heart: wait.
Looking back, I still marvel at the peace I felt in the moment. I wasn’t dejected or discouraged, instead I was elated that the Lord listened to my prayer and responded. Waiting didn’t have a terrible, long-suffering connotation. I felt no fear or resentment. In fact, as I made my way back to the hall for our next session, my steps were lighter. God heard me, He loved me, and He wanted the best for me. After all, I reckoned, 17 is still young.
Years ticked past and my hopes continued, deferred. The boys I liked never invited me to a dance. My not-so-secret college crush never asked me on a proper date. There was no post-grad office romance, especially since the only man I worked with as youth minister at my new parish was the priest.
But still, I prayed. I hoped. And contrary to Padre Pio’s sage advice, I worried.
Peace in Eucharistic Adoration
Having encountered Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament on another high school retreat, I sought Him out in Eucharistic Adoration. In those early years of ministry, I cried to Him on lonely Friday nights and pre-gamed with Him before youth group every Sunday. I stopped in when I was having a bad day and needed a Friend. The chapel became my safe place, my second home. In it, I filled many more journals recording conversations with the One I had come to know so well.
Spring, summer, fall, and winter, morning, noon, and night, I visited Him. Even when I was angry at God about my self-imposed vocation deadlines, I showed up. When I felt unseen, I punched in the little code and sat down before His Eucharistic face. When there was no one and nothing, when there was and then there wasn’t, when my heart broke and I thought I messed it all up, I cried and raged and finally, blessedly, came back to peace in that still, small chapel.
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This devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist changed my life. Like the sinful woman in Luke 8, I daily poured out my heart at His feet. In His True Presence, He purified and rightly-ordered my desires, restored my dignity, and revealed the Love I was longing for.
I’ve spent the last twenty years kneeling before Him in dozens of similar chapels, and still my hope for my vocation has not yet been realized. Still I wait. But in those twenty years, I have been deeply loved. The Lover of my soul pursued my heart and called me Beloved and told me again and again how beautiful I am to Him (Song of Songs 4:1).
Jesus walked with me through those desert years of waiting, grasping, and longing. But as I turn to assess all the ground we’ve covered, I find that the cracked and parched earth has begin to bloom where His footsteps landed. His presence floods the dryness, giving grace to past seasons.
And that same grace is available to you, sweet friend.
Can I ask you to do one thing as you wait for the desires of your heart? Commit to a weekly Holy Hour.
Go to Him no matter the weather or circumstances or emotions that may try to deter you. In His Presence, that seemingly insatiable desire for understanding, acceptance, healing—for love—will be satisfied by the Living Water.
Because beneath the very real call and desire for your vocation lies the ultimate call, the deepest desire of your heart: Love Himself.
We weren’t made for marriage, or religious life; we were made for Jesus Christ.
We want to hear YOUR story. Please share in the comments below!
And if you want more help with finding your own story, our popular Write + Pray course offers 9 topics, nearly an hour of guided video, and almost 50 Scripture verses and questions for you featuring Managing Editor Nell O’Leary. Find your story today.