My Worth is in God, Not My Relationship Status - Letter from Sarah Erickson
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The first time I wrote a letter to my “future husband” was in 2013. I was barely 14 years old, in love with the faith, and struggling in geometry class.
I wish I could tell you that those letters cultivated healthy relationships with boys in my life, or that they pushed me into dependency on the Father.
The harsh truth is that I spent most nights putting off my geometry homework to read all the “holy dating” blog posts, watch all the chastity talks I could find, and absorb the glory of Catholic wedding videos. I was desperate for answers to the enduring questions I had about being a Catholic woman. It was rather early into my high school experience when I read the words that would silence my questions.
“Marriage is the greatest adventure of life.”
My life radically changed, as I began to internalize the thought that my life apart from romantic relationships was incomplete. The dreams I had of being a lawyer and living in a city were quickly replaced by the need to be pursued by a holy man who would lead me to Heaven. I placed my salvation in the hands of a boy I met at church, who seemingly fit all the requirements I had heard of in Catholic couple stories.
Except one. He could never save me.
It’s heart-wrenching to reflect on now. I would have sold my soul to have the perfect Instagram- worthy love story. And that’s exactly what I did.
It took more than three brutal years of striving and posturing to realize that I already had a love story. In fact, I was a part of the greatest love story of all time.
Six months before I left for college, I knelt in adoration completely empty. I had given away every part of myself for the affection and commitment of a boy who very much considered me a thing of the past. After the past few years, I could feel it coming to a halt. With its imminent ending, I was not sure of who I was, what I wanted, or if I had a place in the young Church as a single woman.
In His presence, I begged for a noteworthy love. I desired a love that would complete me, like I had always heard about. I wanted to be pursued above all things. I felt worthless as I grieved the relationship that had defined my sense of self.
The Lord, in His kindness, took me back to His last breaths at Calvary, reassuring me that His blood was the most monumental sacrifice of any man. His words burn in my heart, to this day.
“When will My pursuit of you be enough?”
Friend, you and I are a part of a grand, romantic, and eternal love story.
Everything changed after that encounter. I felt freed from a captivity that had filtered my dreams and suppressed my feminine genius for so many years. Today, I’m a junior in college who lives in Washington DC, with restored dreams of being a revolutionary lawyer. And yes, I am single.
When I got to college, I heard our university chaplain say that the pinnacle of vocation lies in baptism, not in marriage. My heart continues to be set in motion by that. This time of “singleness” no longer marks a season of waiting or agonizing over what could be. This season has communicated joy, creativity, and boundless dreaming with the Father. I no longer wonder if life without a significant other is unfulfilling or boring, because I am completed by Love, Himself. My doubt has been translated into adventure and wonder. By Grace, I can testify to the reality that Love poured out on the cross has, and always will be, the greatest adventure of my life.
Of course, it remains a process. I’ve come to understand there is something messy and unspoken about being a Catholic single woman today, and maybe you are experiencing this too. Maybe the women’s group at your parish is only for moms, or maybe you are discouraged by the reality that all people care to ask about is your relationship status. Maybe your Instagram feed is filled with “tips on dating” or “where all the good men have gone,” and you feel like your experience as a woman has been minimized. Maybe your community has made assumptions about you or your past because you are single. Maybe your singlehood has always been addressed as a cross to bear or a struggle to overcome. For all of this, sister, I am deeply sorry.
The Church needs your spirit and perspective. Truly, the world hungers for your story. We have to let the Holy Spirit liberate us from the lie that this season of our lives is insignificant, because it may be impermanent. We have to undo the understanding that His promises are only accessible in a future husband. We have to press into the wilderness of sisterhood and the sweetness of solitude. We have to allow Hope to illuminate disappointment and doubt. We have to maintain conviction that He is who He says He is, and that there is abundance in the present.
Marriage is a gift, but sister, it is not the end goal. Heaven is. Know of my endless prayers for you.
Highest Praises, Sarah Erickson
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I am currently a junior at The Catholic University of America learning how to be a truth-seeker, studying politics on a pre-law track. Pursuing a certificate in American Intelligence, I dream of becoming an attorney and devoting my life to counterterrorism, by the grace of the Father and a lot of iced lattes. While my heart is in Washington, DC, I was born and raised in Arizona, giving me a deep appreciation for mountains and air conditioning. Some of my other favorite things include the color black, french fries, and pretty churches.
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