Stories of Women in Various States of Life
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Waiting for God's Best
I dislike being asked to wait. Many times my patience is tested when I have to wait for something regardless of value or significance. Ironically, many of the good things that have come to my life arrived late after being asked to wait, that is, they came beyond my preferred or planned time frame.
I suppose God used all these situations, so that in the process of waiting, I could learn how to let him be the Lord of my life and to teach me that he is more than able to provide what I need. One area which God continually uses to strengthen this lesson is my state of life.
State of Life Discernment
It was very clear in my discernment that my vocational direction was marriage. Initially, this caused me a lot of grief because I had preferred to live single for the Lord. Though I eventually went through the expected motions of moving forward, internally, I was still begrudging the Lord about this.
Later on, as I got to know myself more, I realized that the underlying reasons for my desire to live single for the Lord were not godly. I saw it as a higher vocation because only a few are called to it. If I lived that way, then I would be a “cut above the rest,” a member of God’s “elite.” I want the best husband who will love me, never hurt nor disappoint me. I was not willing to be vulnerable to a human being who could possibly fail me. In other words, I was fearful and lacked trust. How self-centered! My motivations were misguided.
Powerhouse of Mentors
Waiting on the Lord meant that I had to embrace God’s call. So, I acted in practical ways to help me appreciate it better. I used Proverbs 31 – the perfect wife – as an anchor for this. I turned to modern day mentors, in addition to my mom, in order to learn how married women in the 21st century applied Proverbs 31.
Community is a tremendous support for a single woman. When I moved out of the University District, I was made part of a married group of Pastoral Leaders. Imagine that! The Lord gave me a “powerhouse” of mentors composed of married women leaders. What a rich experience that was for me! The sisters in my women’s group helped me become more comfortable with and more appreciative of the married vocation. That experience made me realize that there really is not such thing as a “higher vocation.” God uses each vocation to bring us closer to him.
Another support I received from Ligaya was the annual Single Women’s Retreat. In one of those retreats, the speaker reminded us that the State of Life (SOL) Discernment decision is not a prophecy. It is a general direction toward which we should orient our lives. I realized then, that given my character and personality, I would have to change a lot more to be the kind of woman that God requires for a married vocation. No wonder I was called to take on this direction. This would be my specific, God-designed path to holiness. It is this direction, this orientation, that will please my Lord. This realization was pivotal in being able to embrace my call.
The Waiting Game
I also had to actively do my part in the waiting game. Of course, as a woman, I am limited in what I can do to initiate a relationship, but I could at least put in some effort - expanding my network of male friends in community, outside community, and at work. I even took my MBA in a school where the ratio of men to women is 2:1 and where men were less likely to be intimidated by women. In hindsight, maybe I could have done more instead of wasting time nursing my grudge with God. Nevertheless, I tried my best, within the bounds of propriety, to make myself available.
In Search of Mr. Right
Oh, the “right” guys were always in sight but I was not the “right” choice for them. Too bad… for them! Seriously, there were occasions when I would worry about growing old alone. There were also times when I wondered if the Lord was playing favorites, or if I was being punished because I was initially reluctant to accept my vocation. There were instances when I would see a bride walk down the aisle and I would tell myself, “mabuti pa siya.” (I envy her). But truth be told, there were also times when I looked at the groom, and told myself, “naku, mabuti na lang!” (I’m glad it’s not me!)
Somewhere in the process of waiting, I realized that marriage is not a guarantee that I would be happy. If I force the issue and marry the wrong man, I might actually end up depleted rather than “completed.” I started to ponder what would really make me happy. Was I putting limits on my happiness? Was I creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by believing that I can only be happy if I have a ring on my finger? What does “God’s Best” really mean?
Over time, I started to wonder if I made a mistake during my discernment process. But after analysing these thoughts and my situation, I realized that questioning my SOL was a cop out. I was using it to find some reason to explain an unmet expectation, an unmet need. It was easier for me to blame something than to deal with the nagging feeling of uncertainty. But deep inside I know my SOL discernment was not a mistake. It was in fact, among the times when I really experienced God being very near and his message to me was so clear.
A New Meaning to God’s Best
I realized that I can be a Proverbs 31 woman even if I am single. I could develop some of her character traits, like faithfulness to my commitments, being hard working and industrious, loving and caring for my “spiritual children,” exercising obedience to the Lord by not acting on my own without consulting him. The fruits of constantly living out these traits allow me to experience fullness of life. These fruits have given a new meaning to the term “God’s Best.”
Every day I eagerly wait for “God’s Best” and every day, without fail, “God’s Best” arrives on time! It comes in so many forms – a supportive boss, a new pair of shoes, a faithful friend, a good massage, a fulfilling job, an apology from an annoying person, a cup of my favorite coffee, a loving mom, a trip to the Holy Land, a life-giving women’s group – each one “completing me” because each one is provided by God, the real source of my happiness.
Now and then, I still have bouts of disappointment due to unmet expectations. I have learned a technique that helps me deal with these moments. Every day I count the things that I should be grateful for, and this keeps me from obsessing about what I don’t have. I’ve redefined the phrase “state of life.” The “state of my life” at any given point, is more important than my “state of life.” When my time is up, I hope that God will be pleased that I loved him and served him with all my heart, mind, and strength, with or without a ring on my finger.