Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

November 10, 2009

Misadventures in Dating and the Art of Detachment

My mother always said that I would find love when I wasn't looking for it. I have found this saying to be impractical, as I don't believe many women can easily suspend their desires for companionship and love. I do understand that overly eager pursuit leading down the slippery slope to trying to orchestrate situations or control our destiny is unhealthy and imprudent. But I don't really understand the maxim to stop looking. After all, couldn't one try to actively "stop looking" in an attempt to create a time, place, and space for it to happen? Ah, the wonder of the woman's mind...

Despite my trouble with the saying, I think there is something to what my mother is proposing. After two recent dating escapades, one in which I was repeatedly asked entirely too personal questions and another in which I was told that the pro-choice position is the more educated position on the abortion issue, I've decided to step back from my own life and reevaluate my attitude toward dating and the desire for marriage. These mishaps have refined my palate for the type of man that I desire, but have also served to cultivate a real spiritual detachment.

This is an old practice of many Catholic Christian mystics and spiritual writers. Spiritual detachment involves the recognition of your desires as good and from God, but actively freeing yourself from the images of things that you are holidng onto which restrict your mind from seeing what really is or where or who God really is. I have always held onto an image, and idea, of how my own life is going to go, including when and how a vocation to marriage will unfold. But my idea of my own life may not be the idea for my life that God has designed. Actively detaching myself from my own plan for my life allows me to recognize what is true, good, and beautiful in God's plan. It is a conscious, continual effort in freeing ourselves up for God. Ultimately, it is an exercise in the virtue of humility. It is loving the will of God.

I don't exactly know how this is going to play out or how successful I will be in this effort of spiritual detachment, but I think asking for intercession from holy men and women will aid me in this effort to love the will of God. If my way to God is through marriage, so be it. And if it's another way, I want to be free to answer that call as well. St. Mary Magdalene, who so loved the will of God, pray for us!

1 comment:

Angela Miceli said...

I know what you mean. It pretty much took me the same step to find the right man. I tried to find a guy, had friends set me up on dates, tried to talk to guys. It was when I stopped, and decided to see men as friends, not as potential husbands, but just as the men they are, that a man finally found me. Before that, I made the same stupid mistakes I had always made that never did work. I just had to give every moment to God.

And let me also just say -- there is no perfection in men, just as we ourselves are not perfect. We must learn to live with our imperfections (and theirs) and have patience with ourselves and others. At the same time, we do not need to put up with a bunch of nonsense from men either. So hang in there, don't fret, just tell God that if it's meant to happen, it will and He will make the moves for you - or at least be a lamp to your feet!

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