Chanelle Robinson

Living and loving the single life

By  Chanelle Robinson, Youth Speak News
  • September 26, 2014

While watching a sappy reality dating show a few years ago, the TV host made a statement that stuck with me: “Are you always the bridesmaid and never the bride?”

This phrase continues to haunt me, perhaps because it professes a truth that plagues me and many women my age, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

I realized I was getting older when my friends started to get engaged. The proposal trend began in my first year of university when I was 18.

A few months ago, one of my roommates came home and told us that she got engaged the previous weekend. We all surrounded her and played with her ring. She told us their love story and how he proposed. We were supportive friends. And it was beautiful and exciting. But not all friends react so joyfully.

I have other friends who cry and pray novena after novena. They click through their friends’ engagement photos on Facebook and feel as if they are lacking in a deep way. They feel more than ready for matrimony, but have yet to learn how to enjoy singleness. In a society that hyperbolizes the wedding day, the status “single, never married” carries the burden of implicit rejection.

For centuries, the Church has focused on the goodness of ordination, consecrated life and marriage. However, I believe a new cohort is emerging in noticeable numbers among Catholic young adults: single, never married and not called to religious life. Where is their place?

“Vocation” is not a term limited to people who are married or religious. There is a human calling to live life to the fullest and single people need to reclaim this vocation.

Usually singles are told to “wait on God” and are given other vague phrases of comfort. Often Song of Songs (2:7) and 1 Corinthians (7:8) are offered as proof that singleness is a divinely crafted sentence. Even though I am not a biblical expert, when I read those two verses I see a set of guidelines on how to live one’s life and the Gospel well. The young women in the Song of Songs are not bitter. They ask the future bride about her bridegroom. In fact, the young women in the narrative are having such a great time that the bride complains they have “ruined the vineyard” (2:15).

Singleness is not simply a void of waiting. Now is the time to embrace life. Go on a mission’s trip. Learn a new language. The world needs single women to be a witness of how God’s grace is with us in every stage of life. Do not assume that having a spouse is permission to start living life. Life begins long before one says “I do.”

Many young Catholic women believe the fallacy that a husband will bring completion, when being young and single is the best time to discover God, have fun and prepare oneself to be the best spouse if the married life is ultimately your vocation.

I know that there are many single Catholic women who feel incomplete without a significant other. As we watch our beautiful friends walk down the aisle and into a new last name, we are filled with happiness and the desire to be wanted in a similar way. However, this longing for a spouse is not an explicit expression of discontentment. It speaks to our God-given human desire to love and be loved.

(Robinson, 21, is a fourth-year Catholic Studies for Teachers student at King’s University College in London, Ont.) 

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