I'm a Selfish Single
Have you ever compared vocations?
I will never forget a conversation I had with a friend who had recently left the convent. She was lamenting (to mostly married moms and other single women) about several reasons why life had been difficult in the convent. She couldn't control when she went to bed, when she got up, when she ate or even what she ate. She couldn't even control the temperature of her room. For these reasons, among others, she believed she'd be better suited in the married vocation. Then, one of the moms said, "And you think married life is much different?"
That was a wake-up call for me to stop glorifying the married life as if it would be a big love-fest from my husband and kids. Every vocation has its crosses, joys and gifts. When I started comparing my vocation to others', I realized that my life as a single isn't all that bad. Actually, it's pretty cool.
Besides my job demands, I get up when I choose, go to bed when I choose. I watch whatever television I choose, eat whenever and whatever I want, hang out with friends and "fraternize" to my heart's content. With a roommate, I might compromise here and there, but I still have very few limits or responsibilities in my life. Even my charity work fits nicely into my schedule.
My lifestyle, compared to that of a married parent, priest or religious, is almost like night and day. No wonder it is often a challenge for some singles to make a big jump to a "commitment" these days. No wonder married life is too often considered the "ball & chain". I'm worried that if I keep up this selfish lifestyle, adjusting to married or religious life will be quite a challenge.
Every human being is tempted to be selfish, but with so much freedom as a single, it's rather easy to succumb. No one is asking me to take care of them tonight. So I can either take the gift of freedom God has given me and use it to keep my "I need Survivor and 4 evenings a week at home to do nothing" world. Or, I can do everything I can with my gift of freedom to give it back to God. Kids are a gift from God to the married dad, for example. What dad would then use his kids by forcing them to wait on him hand and foot? I sometimes treat God's gift of freedom in that manner - to take care of #1.
If the body of Christ is truly a body, and each part (or vocation) assists in fulfilling the Church's mission, then how am I contributing? How am I sacrificing for the Kingdom? Does a mom tell her kids she'll stop serving at 5 p.m. or only do so once a week? Does she just offer them money, but nothing else? The Church needs singles like a child needs a mom, willing and able to sacrifice not just money, but time, energy and love. This is our call as singles-not necessarily to be "moms" to the church-but to give as a good mom, dad, priest or religious would give. The Kingdom will be less than it could be if we don't respond.
Admittedly, the single life has sacrifices; there are things we miss out on. We don't get sex, daily hugs from kids, or a community committed to sharing life with us. However, every vocation has sacrifices. Parents miss ample free time and quiet; the religious miss a committed, exclusive relationship with one individual, etc. God never encourages us, however, to focus on what we're missing. We're called to give what we have. As singles, we have a lot of freedom now. And, God calls us to live in the now, not waiting for future "assignments". Like a mom shouldn't constantly be waiting for her kids to grow up and move out, I shouldn't be waiting before I shower my love.
I am challenging myself, along with all other singles that might be like me, to make the most of the freedom God has given us. We've been given this time for a reason. Enjoy the freedom, yes (it's healthy to be selfish from time to time), but then give and give some more, until we have more days in which we feel exhausted, like a mom of 4 kids or the priest of a busy parish.
If I can get to that type of lifestyle, when I'm called to married or religious life, I'll be ready. Or, even if I never marry or join a religious community, when I'm called home to My Father, I'll be ready, knowing I tried hard not to waste the gifts I'd been given.