Being single can be a heavy cross to bear, especially when many of your friends are married and have children. For me, I’m at the point in life where women who I used to babysit are now married. In these situations, it’s difficult not to fall into the comparison trap. I definitely have. When I find myself doing this, I remind myself that everyone’s journey is different. Yes, my life doesn’t look how I imagined it would, but I haven’t missed out on God’s plans because he’s going to reveal them to me when the time is right.
However, that doesn’t mean you should sit around and do nothing while waiting to begin your vocation because your single years are preparation for your vocation. Looking back on my life, I could have done more to prepare when I was in my 20s. Now, I’m 35, and I’ve been putting forth more effort to practice that advice.
One way I’ve been trying to do that is by looking for opportunities to make small sacrifices in my daily life. For example, a friend who’s been going through a difficult time texted me about meeting for dinner on Sunday night. I chose to join her even though I knew it would mean missing the Vikings game — which is a big deal for me. Or, sometimes I’ll stay off Facebook and Instagram or skip dessert for the day. Getting in the habit of making sacrifices now will prepare you to put aside your own little desires for the good of your husband and children when you are married.
Another piece of advice I’ve received is to get involved in your parish. One night, I was leaving adoration when a woman asked if I’d be interested in volunteering for Early Catholic Family Life (ECFL), which teaches parents how to be the first educators for their children’s faith. This wasn’t the first time I helped with faith formation at my parish. Before I volunteered with ECFL, I taught Faith Formation to 1st-5th graders and First Sacraments for kids who were in 4th grade or older. Teaching allowed me to be a spiritual mother, a role that all women, regardless of their vocation, are called to embrace. This teaching opportunity also forced me to get back to the basics of our faith, such as why we go to confession and why we believe the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ. The more you know about your faith, the better prepared you’ll be to raise your own children in the Faith in the future.
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Maybe you aren’t comfortable helping with a faith formation class. That’s OK, but think about what you enjoy. Is hospitality one of your strengths? If so, volunteer to help serve coffee and donuts after Mass or to serve at a funeral luncheon. Are you looking to strengthen your prayer life or increase your devotion to the Eucharist? Sign up to make a weekly holy hour if your parish has adoration. Are you a skilled event planner? Help organize a fall festival if your parish offers one. Be intentional to use the freedom and time you have as a single woman to benefit yourself and the life of your parish.
Becoming involved in your parish will also allow you to get to know the people who you see at Mass every weekend. Parishioners will be more likely to introduce themselves when they see you’re involved. For example, I recently attended the farewell reception for one of our priests where I started talking with a few women who I hadn’t met before but who recognized me from when I cantored at Mass.
Also, it’s important to note that we are created for community, and these are people who can walk with you on your journey through your vocational discernment. So, find friends in different seasons of life to support you through their own experiences. And while having married friends and older role models is good, make sure to get to know other single Catholics. Faithful friendships with other singles are important because you can empathize with and encourage each other when you feel the weight of the cross that can come with this season. You can also hold each other accountable to make sure you’re taking steps to bear fruit in your season of singleness.
Spend less time scrolling. This is something I struggle with and I’m working toward doing less. Using social media isn’t necessarily bad, but if you aren’t paying attention to your usage, the next thing you know you’ve spent an hour mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, an hour that could’ve been better spent elsewhere, such as praying the Rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet or even talking to a friend on the phone. Besides, when you’re married with children, you won’t have unlimited time to scroll. Also, limiting your social media usage will mean you’re less likely to fall into comparison and lose peace.
Take the time to develop a good prayer routine. Regardless of your vocation, we’re all called to holiness and to become saints. If you’re called to married life, it’s your job to help get your spouse and children (if you have them) to heaven. So, if you’re single and feel called to marriage, I’d encourage you to start praying for your future spouse daily. Forming good prayer habits will better prepare you to be a witness of faith in your home to your future spouse and children.
Frequent reception of the sacraments has been a big help for me as well. First, I suggest getting in the habit of going to confession on a regular basis. It’s made me aware of some of the sins I fall into when I struggle with singleness, such as a lack of gratitude, envy and having a hard time accepting that God’s timing isn’t always the same as my timing. I try to go to confession twice a month, but if you’re not already in the habit, I’d encourage you to start with going about once a month. This will also make you more aware of whether you need to go to confession before you receive Communion. Even more fruitful than confession, receiving Jesus in the Eucharist has been a deep source of consolation for me as a single woman. It’s helped me to put my focus on the one who loves me, who died for me, and who makes himself present to me whenever I adore or receive him in Communion.
Waiting is hard, but it’s important to remember that you may be single right now because God is calling you to use this time to accomplish something that you wouldn’t be able to do when you’re married. I experienced this when my mom died from pancreatic cancer three years ago. She was in hospice, and I was able to be one of her primary caregivers, a blessing I wouldn’t have been able to experience if I’d been married with children. I also learned a lot about sacrificial love during this time, which is necessary for your vocation.
Finally, your most important identity is being God’s daughter. God loves us as we are, regardless of our vocation. Proverbs says: “Then was I beside him as artisan; I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while” (8:30). Lean into your relationship with God, and he will take care of the rest.