There is a tendency among those who have not yet committed to a vocation to assume that they are called to marriage because they don’t feel called to priesthood and religious life. The problem with this mentality is that you are discerning a vocation to marriage based on a process of elimination—or default. Matrimony is a vocation, meaning that it’s a calling from God and it requires the same level of discernment and formation that a call to the priesthood or religious life requires.
The vocational problem that I see among some of my single friends is that many of them live a very uncommitted lifestyle. That is not to say that they are impure and not living chastity. Rather, they live their lives with a lack of purpose and their lifestyle isn’t in pursuit of anything. They go from one social gathering to another, never truly finding a mission for their life, and never preparing for the vocation that God will be calling them to. If I were to give advice to my single friends, I would encourage them to prepare for their calling, by seeking better formation as a person. Here are three things to consider:
1. Wounds that you bring into your marriage can negatively impact your relationship.
Every person carries emotional wounds in their life. Wounds can come from sin that you have committed in your life, events that have happened in your life, or wounds in your family of origin. If you bring these wounds into your marriage, they can play out again in your marriage and in your children’s lives. Recently, I realized that I was a person that had a hard time with accepting blame. In my family of origin, I learned that you could either blame someone else for a problem or you could be blamed, and as a result, I had a hard time accepting blame for a wrongdoing in my own family. This is a wound that needed healing—and it’s a wound that I carried into my family.
2. Chastity is necessary for love.
A couple that lacks in chastity will face marital problems. It amazes me how many of my single friends hold the misconception that marriage will be a cure-all for sexual impurity. They believe that sex with their spouse will cure their pornography addiction or that “pushing the limits,” with their boyfriend or girlfriend won’t have that much of an impact on their future marriage. St. John Paul II said, “Only the chaste man and chaste woman are capable of love.” The behaviors and attitudes that you develop prior to marriage will always be carried over into marriage. By participating in sexual impurity now, you are mortgaging your future happiness in your marriage. Sex is intended for a lifelong commitment. Putting sex before the commitment can lead to resentment, hurt and a need for healing later on in your marriage.
3. Get Ready: Marriage is Exceptionally Difficult.
I think there is a tendency in our culture to place the burden of our hope for happiness entirely on the shoulders of another person. Many have the perception around marriage that, “I have a deep desire to love and be loved. Therefore, when I find my soul-mate I will be happy.” God made us for union with Him and only He can fulfill our deep desires for happiness. When we place our desires for happiness entirely on another imperfect person, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. The reality is, marriage is extremely difficult—perhaps more difficult than any other vocation. Two people—who are separate and distinct from one another—are tasked with responsibility of becoming, “one” and leading each other and their children to Heaven. This responsibility requires constant acts and decisions of love, self-sacrifice and forgiveness. This is NOT easy and every marriage faces struggles and challenges that either results in a separation of and division among the spouses or a husband and wife dying to self and becoming more holy and unified together. Matrimony is a vocation that sanctifies two people and their children, and that can sometimes be a painful process.
God has a plan for your life and for your purpose on earth. If you do not know the mission that he has given you in your life, don’t fret. It will come with time and prayer. Preparing for your vocation requires daily diligence to seek God’s healing and guidance for your life.
Everett Fritz works in Catholic Youth Ministry and enjoys speaking on the topics of chastity, discipleship, and youth evangelization. He is the Content Development and Promotion Lead for YDisciple at the Augustine Institute and holds an MA in Theology from the Augustine Institute.Everett resides in Denver with his wife Katrina and their three children. You can connect with him through Facebook: https://www.