Dear Pope Francis,
I have a confession to make. One of my greatest fears about doing an M.Div. was not that I would find the work really hard, or that I’d flunk out. It wasn’t even that I’d get lost trying to navigate my new city. It was that I would be the only young woman studying theology, and I’d spend the next three years surrounded by super-pious guys, all studying to be priests, that I couldn’t relate to. I shared this fear with my professor who had encouraged me to apply for the program in the first place. He assured me that there would be other young women, and put me in touch with one young women who was studying in the year ahead of me. I’m happy to say that this fear was quickly put aside; I have since met several very cool young women who are all studying theology.
I start with this story, because it seems to be different from stories that I’ve heard from other Christian schools. In these other schools, some women are worried about finding their future husband; they seem to be equally worried about getting their BA, B.Sc. M.Div. or some other degree, and their Mrs. I read a thought-provoking response to a picture that had been circulating the internet with the caption: “Paper doesn’t always beat rock”, and it got me thinking about my own understanding of school and dating.
It’s taken me a long time to get to this place in my own vocational discernment (which is a story for another day), but suffice to say, at this point in my life, I am primarily feeling called to be open to marriage, but it isn’t something for right this minute. Being able to say this is a big step for me because for a long time, I didn’t understand how it was possible that I didn’t feel called to be a religious sister, but I also wasn’t called to be in a relationship heading towards marriage either. These were the only two states in life, and if I wasn’t in either then something was definitely wrong with me.
But that is exactly the state I am in; it’s being a transitional-single. It’s only been recently that I have been able to accept this time, and be able to appreciate it for what it is. The peace came when I was talking about guys with a friend from school, and she said quite seriously that even though I knew I wanted to get married, I hadn’t met the right guy yet, and that was okay; there’s time for me to meet him. I don’t know why her words stuck, because I know I’ve heard this before, but they did.
In reflecting on what she said, I realized that being single is pretty cool. I am able to pack up and go away for the weekend without needing to take another person into consideration (other than to let my roommate know that I haven’t been abducted). I talk to whomever I want without worrying about a particular guy mistaking my intentions. I have more freedom with my time as well, because I’m not trying to juggle my busy schedule around someone else’s busy schedule on a regular basis. I know these all seem quite self-centred, and they are, but I also have the freedom to focus on myself like this, and spend this time working to improve myself, my friendships, and my relationship with God.
None of this is to say that waiting is always easy, or that I wouldn’t be interested in dating someone. I am usually an impatient person, and I most certainly am interested in dating. However, there is a peace in feeling reasonably confident in what God wants from me, marriage, but being able to accept the immediate state that I am in, a transitional-single. I spend time with families, families with young kids and families with teenagers, and I leave feeling more certain that family life is what I’m called to. This knowledge makes it a little bit easier to wait, because I want to be with the right person for the family life I’m called to. I also trust that when the time comes, God will show me the right guy.
I am putting enough pressure on myself to finish school by next spring, I certainly don’t need to add any more pressure.
Focusing on my M.Div (and not the Mrs.),