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

December 19, 2009

What Do You Want?

What better way to spend a morning snowed in than to blog!

This morning I spoke with a very dear friend and his three-year-old daughter. Part of the conversation with her included the following:

M: "You can call me Cinderella."
Julian: "Okay, do you have everything you need? Are you in a pretty dress?"
M: "Yes. It's pretty."
Julian. "Do you have your Prince Charming?"
M: "No, not yet."
Julian: "Yeah, me neither. Hang in there, M! He's coming!"

This snippet of our conversation got me thinking about Edith's post on singleness from a fellow blogger. The post includes a reflection on how before Jesus responds to people or works a miracle, he asks them what it is that they want. In the post, Mary Rose indicates that she wrote a list of the qualities that she desired in a man, and that her husband fulfilled all of them.

It's been suggested to me by friends and a few others that I should bring such a list of the qualities that I desire in a man before the Lord -- after all, it doesn't hurt to be specific in the Lord with the desires on our heart. While I know this has worked for some people in that their significant other has fulfilled all or nearly all of the things they asked for, I don't feel called to make this list before the Lord for two related reasons:

1) I feel that if I make such demands upon the Lord, I am putting limits on His creative power and could fail to recognize someone who has qualities that would in fact complement me. After all, doesn't God know my heart better than I know it?

2) I am still not convinced that there is only one person that God has ordained from all time for me to make a life with. I do heartily believe in Providence, but I believe this guidance of our lives includes the very real importance of our cooperation with God's will and our own willing and choosing of the particulars in our life. We all have an eternal destiny that God knows from all time, but I do not believe He has our paths in the particular all worked out. We get where we need to be, but we get to participate in the forging of the path. If I limit the qualities of the man that will get me to that end, will I miss other opportunities to get to that end? Will I refuse to listen to my heart to fall in love with someone else who might also help me to get to that end? Isn't love a choice?

I'm not sure if this makes any sense at all, other than to say that I've been uneasy in my own life to specify what it is that I desire in a man. Maybe I pray to the Lord to choose for me because I don't trust myself. Maybe I pray that he opens my eyes to a good man and moves my heart to Him because I am afraid of asking for it. Agatha always reminds me that the single life includes being willingly open to the will of the Lord. I see this related to the desire for a man, too. Who knows. In the meantime, I'll continue to put on pretty dresses like Cinderella and go out meeting new people. You never know who might come forward before midnight!


Aaron said...

I think the point of a list is not so much to say, "Lord, here's what I'd like," but rather, it's an occasion to discern one's own strengths and weaknesses, gifts and needs.

Think of it like making a list before buying a house. If one has a large family, one needs X bedrooms, or at least room for Y beds. This may seem obvious, but at some point one might stumble upon just the cutest little place? "Oh, we could make it work. Somehow. Couldn't we, honey?" If one knows ahead of time one needs a house with X bedrooms, one won't waste time trying to justify something smaller.

That may sound obvious, but we make the same kind of mistake in relationships. The point of the list - at least as I understand it - is not to enumerate one's preferences, but to clarify those things which one cannot compromise. It should include everything which is essential and nothing which is not. Still, definitely something worth taking before the Lord.

Edith Magdalene said...

I have to second Aaron on this one. I never did make a list, but I did (and do) keep a prayer journal and in that journal I reflected upon the kinds of qualities I wanted to find in men...if only through the men I dated that did not have those qualities. And Peter fit them all. I was not limiting God. I was trusting Him. But I was also being honest with Him. And when I read your post and saw you were worried about 'limiting' God and yourself by such a list, you are not. You are not going to say 'I want a man who is rich, tall, dark, and handsome. And a prince please, thank you!' But put down on paper qualities you find attractive, gifts you wish you had or could be better at - these are noble things to look for, and to ask God for.

Whether God had ordained just one man or not for you. I agree that love is a choice. I agree that you can be compatible with many different men. I also DO NOT believe necessarily in 'soul mates.' But I do believe that God does intend for couples to be together. I believe He does have a hand in it. I mean, talk about being the Supreme matchmaker! HA! I think that God does intend one particular man for you. I know that I dated plenty of men who on paper were perfect for me in every way...but they just were not the one man for me. Then I found Peter. And it's Peter that I chose to love. No one else. So there is a particularity in that choice.

And when we met, I did not even think on paper that he fit the criteria...I mean, I wanted to marry someone Catholic, and he was not. But I trusted God's Providence that if He wanted us together, He would help us no matter religion Peter chose - which, as you now know, is the Catholic faith.

I think that's key, Julian. Trust in God. I know you know that, because you always remind me of it too. So writing a list in the form of a prayer being truly honest with God about who you are and the kind of man who will help you become perfected in love. Trust me, if God's grace is not limited to the sacraments, it surely won't be limited to a list. And He loves you, so He wants to know. He's listening.

fabulous said...

Wow, these are some great questions & reflections!

I'm thankful to be able to read them:) THank you!

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