“Ask a Priest: What If I’ve Put God on Hold as I Await a Wife?”

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Q: I’m struggling to see God as the fulfillment of all my desire. I’m a 31-year-old man and been single my whole life and desperately want that to change. I want an earthly romance so fiercely that I keep pushing my relationship with God to the back burner. I know that’s wrong, but I just can’t get the notion from my head to my heart that I need to be satisfied in him alone. I know that an earthly romance is merely a shadow of what is to come, but I’m struggling a lot more to believe it (I very badly want to get married while I still have a few years of youth left to enjoy). I want an earthly romance so much that it physically hurts sometimes. How can I redirect that desire toward God? When I go to pray, I often just feel more frustrated, hurt and alone than before. I want to want God, but I’m just not there. As a result, my prayer life is inconsistent, at best. Again, working on it. Any advice you can offer would be welcome. – P.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s good that you at least you are aware of the need to see God as the only one who can fulfill all your desires. Now, the key thing is to live as though you really believe that.

It’s understandable that you might ache for a wife. We are relational beings, and we weren’t made to go it alone through life.

It’s notable that your e-mail is sprinkled with words such as “desperately” and “fiercely” and “physically hurts.” These reflect tension and unease within yourself.

Part of the reason for the unease might stem from pushing God to the back burner. Without him at the center of our lives, we will never be at peace, whether we are single or married.

Wanting God above all things doesn’t mean that all other desires disappear. Our natural desires are gifts from God, and part of going deeper in our prayer life is learning to find God in all things.

So it might be good, as tough as it seems, to shift your focus from waiting for Miss Right to anchoring yourself in a life of solid prayer and sacraments.

Concretely, this means time for prayer in the morning (perhaps a 10-minute mediation on the day’s Gospel), the Angelus at noon, rosary, 10 minutes of Scripture reading in the evening, and an examen of conscience before bedtime). To help develop your prayer life, The Better Part might help.

Not only will those acts of piety help bring you peace – we are made for God, after all – but they might also aid you in earthly relationships. For a man (or woman) who is calm and confident and close to God will likely be a more attractive person.

So while your instincts might be to make finding a wife your No. 1 priority, it would be better to give top spot to making God the center of your day.

Jesus would concur. Asked about the greatest commandment, he said, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Notice that Jesus didn’t qualify that with “… after you find Miss Right.”

Besides, to wait until you find Miss Right and then get serious about your prayer life is risky. It’s better to build on the solid rock of God – now — rather than hang your hopes on someone who hasn’t even appeared on the horizon.

If you put God first, he will look after you. A spouse is a gift from God. So, trusting in his timing can be a good way to grow in faith. In any case, the more you are grounded in your relationship with him, the more secure you will feel. And secure men generally appeal to women more than insecure men.

So you might not want to put life on hold. Make the most of it now. Pray, frequent the sacraments, and think about doing volunteer work in the Church.

This could help you put your own woes in perspective and bring you in contact with lots of good, faithful folks … and maybe a Miss Right.

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