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

May 28, 2010

What to Expect When You're Expecting

Don't worry readers, I'm not pregnant!

"The problem with having a crush," my wise cousin recently said, "is that no matter what happens, good or bad, it's not the way it was supposed to go."

One temptation for the single lady is to write the script of her own romance. It's so incredibly easy for us to jump three steps ahead in any situation; women naturally anticipate what's next. This is part of the reason that we are successful mothers and wives, but it's also one of the dangers for the dating woman.

Now, this can certainly take a very drastic form in that upon meeting a man for the first time, one can daydream about what a potential future would look like with that person. But expectations can also come in more subtle forms. Often when well-intentioned friends orchestrate a set-up, there are inevitably expectations from both parties, especially if the other person was "talked up" prior to the meeting. I personally prefer to not know if I'm being set up with someone, so that things can organically unfold. Or, one might hope/expect that something could naturally develop from a friendship, but when that doesn't happen, one is left disappointed.

The answer, I think, is to somehow discipline oneself in everyday life and ordinary encounters so that we may, like C.S. Lewis, be "surprised by joy." The most joyful moments in life are those that are unexpected -- they are pure gift. The most joyful friendships cannot be anticipated -- they are sent from God alone. I can only imagine that this will happen with the right man. That even if I know him now, the moment when I recognize him in a new way will be totally unexpected, not one that is plotted or orchestrated. Or if I do not know him yet, he will be woven into my life just as it is.

My heart aches a bit right now in anticipation of my vocation which is not yet fulfilled. But I think that if I will just allow myself to enjoy the little joys, the little unexpected gifts, then I will be more receptive to the joy of a man whose love I could not plan for myself.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

This is a problem not only for women, but also for men. However, I think it's also a great blessing. Most of us live lives of ego-centrism: we can go whole days without really encountering the personhood of another or realizing that they actually have thoughts and feelings and dreams of their own, which are more than just props on the stage of our lives.

But romantic love demolishes all that. Yes, there are the moments of joyful surprise, but there are also moments of "Why won't he just agree with me on this?!?" or "Does she think I actually care about XYZ?" Our self-centered plans and expectations get smashed in a dozen little ways every day. And it is right that they should. In this way, marriage is every bit as ascetic as religious life, requiring a death to self on a daily basis.

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