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The secret to finding love when you’re (painfully) single

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Married at 44, one woman shares the big lesson she learned while waiting many years for Mr. Right.

If someone had told me when I was 20 that I would wait until I was 42 to meet Mr. Right, I would have been profoundly discouraged and probably angry. Instead, I met my husband Greg when I was 42 and we married when I was 44. In hindsight, the timing was perfect. 

But don’t misunderstand me — I was not fine with being single and dating. I did not enjoy it. For me, it was a trial, one that seemed endless and lonesome. It was only with the gift of time that I came to appreciate and understand there was a purpose to it all. And part of that purpose, I believe, is to help encourage other women with the hope that I’ve been given.  

Since my marriage, I’ve spoken with many single women. All of them are trying to juggle life, work, and dating — while remaining hopeful and optimistic about finding their true love – hopefully sooner than I did! Through my encounters with these women, as well as my own experiences, I’ve become convinced that a woman’s heart is hard-wired with a desire to love and be loved. In truth, every heart is wired this way, but a woman’s heart longs for love in the way that a garden longs for sunshine and water. Most women have the dream of being unconditionally loved and accepted by a man with whom they want to raise children.

This makes it all the more painful when the reality of not being married — or on your way to it –starts hitting home, usually around our mid-20s to early 30s. This struggle is often compounded by a taunting voice inside our heads that says, “If I don’t find my husband soon, my dream of having children may not come true.”

If this is you or someone you know, the truth is, this state in life can be frustrating, lonely, and discouraging – but you are not alone, and there is hope.

One of the questions I hear the most is: What did you do to remain hopeful? To be honest, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and struggled nearly every step of the way. I focused on things I loved doing and made the most of my freedom to travel, earned my master’s degree at night, and trained for a couple of marathons.  

Additionally, and not nearly as glamorous, I exhausted every single bad possibility for a life partner – mostly because I was not truly listening to my heart. If I had taken a serious look at some of the men I was preoccupied with, I would have had to acknowledge that they were bad for me, but I had formed unhealthy attachments that were difficult to break and I was afraid nothing else would work out.  

It was a long, arduous, and sometimes agonizing journey that led me to my own personal surrender — and happiness. I realized that what I was doing wasn’t good for my soul and I was tired enough of the frustration and poor decisions to finally surrender this great quest of mine. My spiritual director guided me to pray every day, Lord, help me to be open to the love that you have to send me, today. This prayer convinced me that only God could provide the loving acceptance and peace that my heart craved. It was this true surrender of my heart that caused me to become aware of just how blessed I was by the magnanimous gifts of grace, friends, family, and God’s perfect provision, that surrounded me already. I had finally arrived at a peace — a long and hard-fought peace. I could relate to the words of St. Augustine: “My heart was restless until it found rest in you, O God.” 

Since I had truly surrendered, and prayed fervently to be open to the love that God wanted to send me in my life, it was no longer my hope or design to find a husband. I assumed I would continue to see His love in the people in my life, in my acts of service — like teaching CCD/Sunday School to little children — but in God’s perfect timing, Greg was introduced to me by close friends less than two months later. 

Greg and I are both convinced that the timing was crucial for our relationship to be able to succeed. We believe that if we had met at another point in our lives, neither of us would have recognized our heart’s companion in the other as we were both still in the process of surrendering and being prepared for one another. 

Surrendering to God and His love is the only sure way to achieve happiness during every stage and situation in life. This lesson was critical when I was single, but it continues even now when I struggle with various hurdles to happiness. We are indeed called to happiness and no matter our state in life, the best way to find it is to rest in the knowledge that we are unconditionally loved and accepted, and to surrender our lives to Divine Providence.  

Read more: Why we need to stop comparing single life with marriage

Read more: Attending a wedding as a single person? Say this prayer on the way …

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