Reflections

Divine Romance | Carissa’s Story

We’re not quite done our Celebrating Sainthood Series yet (2 more posts!) but we’re kicking off our next one already as thoughts turn to Valentines Day.

So what have we got planned for you? We’re going to feature the stories of a number of young women who took on a commitment to be single-hearted for 6 months. What does that mean? Check Carissa’s story below…

“Last summer, a close friend of mine challenged me to be single-hearted for 6 months. I thought that was absolutely ridiculous. I have been single my whole life. How would my being single-hearted for the next six months be any different from those other multiple six-month periods? However, the idea stayed in my mind and resonated in my heart. So I agreed to do it, even if I didn’t really know what it meant at the time. Little did I know that those months would be some of the most beautiful I’d ever had.

Around this same time, I came across Sarah Swafford, a Catholic speaker on emotional virtue, who wrote an article about singlehood. She writes:

“God has given you the greatest gift!  He has given you the gift of time, and a place to grow and become the person you have longed to be! So who are you? Who is God calling you to be?  When that special guy comes along and falls in love with you, what will he be falling in love with?”

It was that last question that really struck me. What will he be falling in love with? I was dumbfounded because…I wasn’t able to answer that question. The first little light bulb moment had struck: I knew that this was a time to find myself.

It wasn’t easy. This was the first summer of my university years that I had felt really lost. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with those four months. I had turned down an opportunity for a mission project abroad yet all my other friends were leaving town to do mission projects. I felt like I had made the wrong decision; I felt left behind and confused. But the Lord never forgets you, even when it feels like you are alone.

That summer, in my loneliness, I committed to trusting in Him. It’s funny how when you make a commitment to the Lord but don’t quite know what you’re getting into, He still honours your ‘yes’. I found that slowly, step by step, He was fulfilling my commitment to singlehood by revealing to me who I really was.

Psalm 37:3-4 says, “TRUST in the Lord; find your delight in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart.” The Lord doesn’t say, Hey, I’m only going to grant you your top two desires or I’m not sure you really deserve to have THAT one. No- actually, He will give you all the desires of your heart, even the ones you didn’t know were there!

One of the biggest desires I had was a desire to know my dignity and character. I was working for an international summer camp in Vancouver: our campers came from all over the world to Canada to learn English and meet other kids from different countries. My days consisted of early morning meetings and midnight bedtimes, making sure rules were kept (of course they were broken) and doing all kinds of crazy tasks, like MCing carnivals and buying exotic foods for Fear Factor nights (pickled herring, anyone?). Sure enough, my job tested and challenged me with the late nights and an aching body, but I became a stronger leader than when I first got there.

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I didn’t realize it but I desired to know that I was a person worthy of Love and capable of giving it: I remember when the group of Brazillian students had left: they were crying so hard and hugged me tight, even if I only had 3 conversations with them during their stay. Then I remembered when one of my closest counsellor friends had left- he, too, was crying when he hugged me goodbye. Unlike my doubts in the beginning of the summer, I was a person of Love who could have an impact on people, even if we barely knew each other.

I desired to give joy to people: My co-workers called me “Sunshine” throughout my time there- it was humbling to realize that I cheered them up every day. Back then, I doubted the power of Christ radiating joy in my life. Yet there He was.

I desired to have a fun summer (yes, you are allowed to have simple desires!): I was able to explore different parts of Vancouver and have the most amazing adventures (climbing a mountain? Hitchhiking? Sneaking in for a swim in a hotel pool? Done, done and so much fun) with friends I still keep in touch with today.

More importantly, a big desire of mine was to grow closer to God. I thought I had a good relationship with Him but His Love is a spectacular one: you think you know Him, and then you realize there is so much more to know about Him. The Lord patiently and lovingly took care of me when I felt sad and lonely. He managed to give me so much joy from all the little things I did that summer, such as having a cup of tea in the morning or washing the dishes while listening to music. These were tiny and mundane but planted a smile on my face. And despite the many, many times, I cried to Him, when I was mad at Him, His mercy prevailed and He still gave me the longings of my heart.

So, what’s the verdict after 6 months? Yes, I am still single- and I say this with a smile. But now, I am single-hearted. Being single-hearted for me is no longer just a 6 month commitment- it is a wonderful and empowering lifestyle. Singlehood is a time in our lives given to us by God to figure out who we are and to ENJOY figuring out who we are, what we like, what we don’t like, what kinds of people we are compatible with…A time to figure out and prepare ourselves to truly love: to give of our whole selves fully, freely, faithfully and fruitfully to another (JPII’s Theology of the Body).

My advice to the women (and men!) out there who want to do the singled-hearted challenge is Nike-esque: just do it. Commit to it, have an accountability buddy, present your commitment to the Lord and He will bless you for it. He will reveal more of Himself to you, and more of yourself to you. It’s a little exciting dating yourself: you find out that you can be quite the catch.

sought the Lord, who answered me, delivered me from all my fears. Look to God that you may be radiant with joy…Learn to savor how good the Lord is.” Psalm 34: 5-6, 9

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Carissa is excited to graduate from UBC this May with a degree in Sociology, the sometimes-forgotten-but-just-as-important-sister-major of Psychology. She has quite a passion for her women’s ministry group, Live31 Vancouver and enjoys a warm cup of tea, two-stepping and having intentional life chats. She tweets from @rissaben.

 

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