Let’s start from the beginning: a very good place to start. For me, it all started with “The Sound of Music.”
When I was only 7 years old, I watched this iconic film for the very first time. From the opening sequence to the final, triumphant notes, I was enamored with the beauty of it all.
Early in the movie, a question came to mind. As several characters pondered how to solve a problem like Maria, I asked who all the women in long black dresses were. My mom whispered that they were nuns.
Nuns? None of what? The word was foreign to me, and I requested more of an explanation. It’s a bit of a complex concept to explain to a young child growing up in a Protestant home, so my mom responded in as simple terms as she could.
“A nun is a woman who gives her entire life to God,” she replied. “She never gets married and lives with a lot of other nuns for the rest of her life.”
Giving your whole life to God? A never-ending sleepover with all your friends? Avoidance from boys for the rest of your life? There was only one thought that crossed my young mind: Sign me up!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how my dream of growing up to become a nun was born. It seemed like the dream life, and I aspired to live it.
This ambition didn’t last, of course. As time passed and I developed a faith of my own, I realized my spiritual beliefs didn’t fully align with Catholicism. However, that wasn’t the only reason my dream career shifted from nunhood. As I entered teenhood, the prospect of remaining unmarried for the rest of my life didn’t just lose its appeal; it became the worst possible fate I could imagine.
For years, I simply knew that, by my mid-20s, I would have a husband, a nice house and perhaps a dog or two. That’s just how it works, right? You go to a Christian college, meet your spouse, graduate and get married. That’s how it worked for my parents; I figured that was how life would work for me.
I had fallen into the temptation of telling God what my plans were instead of listening to his. I’m ashamed to admit that I felt as though God owed me the life I thought I deserved.
As time passed and a few relationships ended sans ring, I slowly came to terms with the realization that not everyone gets married, certainly not right out of college. For much of sophomore year, I worked on accepting what felt almost like defeat: I may not get married, and I would have to be OK with that.
Thankfully, my focus continued to shift past this dismal acceptance. After all, we aren’t called to live in dreary resignation; we are called to lead lives full of joy and trust. I’m beginning to realize that some incredible opportunities may be even more accessible without a spouse. The point is that I don’t know what lies ahead; there are countless, exciting possibilities.
I recognize now that I am not promised marriage. I recognize that accepting the possibility of singleness is not equivalent to dejectedly waving a white flag of surrender. I also recognize how quickly change can take place. Everything could be totally different in a year.
God didn’t guarantee me a husband or the life I dreamed of having for years. God guaranteed me that he has plans for my prosperity, hope and a future — no matter what.
And I am pretty excited about them.