As I sat at a table with my daughter and her two friends, who had just finished telling me how I would die old and lonely if I didn’t get out there and find a man, I interrupted their youthful banter of doom and gloom to announce, “I guess I need to come out to you all about something.” As kids today usually begin their announcement of “coming out” in reference to coming out of a closet about their being gay, there was stunned silence from one and all, as well as a dropped jaw from my daughter. Before their shock went too far, I quickly corrected their assumption by continuing to state, “I always wanted to be a nun.”
Still in stunned silence, I continued, “Not everyone is called to be married. I wanted to go to the convent at age 15 and my mother made me date boys. I did as society expected of me. I dated boys and I got married and had a family, but I was never truly happy. I was called to a single life and my greatest desire was to serve God.”
After a moment or two of contemplation, they accepted my choice to be single, just as they also accept the choices of other friends who are gay and lesbian. It needed to be said. I needed to articulate it so that they would leave me alone about it. I must admit, it was incredibly liberating. “I was never called to be married.”
I continued my explanation, at the embarrassment of my grown daughter, to explain that even though I am definitely attracted to men, not women, and I have had my share of loving and pleasurable sexual experiences, not to mention five children, I was still never called to be in a sacramental union. Just as Paul told the Corinthians, “Not all are called to that life, but if one cannot refrain from sexual encounters, they should marry.”
So what happened to my calling?
My parents did not want me to be confirmed as a Catholic, although I had been baptized at my grandmother’s request and did in fact attend church regularly with my grandmother and her friends. One of my fondest memories, is when I first heard the singing nun on television singing “Dominque.”
Another equally fond memory is when I attended one mass where there were traveling “brothers” who were wearing long brown gowns and playing guitars. I distinctly remember hearing the older people say, “It’s an abomination.” I knew then, that I definitely WANTED to do that…play guitar at mass. ha.ha..
Societal Norms: After many failed relationships, where I searched for “love” in all the wrong places …and was left feeling used and broken, I met a man who had the most interesting face. Behind his beard, I saw big, beautiful brown eyes and a gorgeous smile. On top of all that, he was aloof and very, very smart. It was a lethal combination for me because I was drawn to his intellect and his puns. He was hilarious. He was also the first gentleman I had met and he only wanted to hold my hand and eventually kissed me.
Human Nature: To make a long story short, we fell madly in lust with each other, as many kids during that time did. We mistook “lust” for “love” and embarked on a lifelong journey of having babies and having our family. Even though we were great friends and our conversations were never anything but intellectually stimulating, something was still missing for me personally. I felt ever closer to my Catholic roots and ever drawn to service in the church and could not share that with my husband. He too seemed to need something else in his life. He too felt unfulfilled.
Selfishness and Sin: As my relationship with Jesus grew ever stronger and more fulfilling, the divide between my husband, who was an atheist, and I grew into the Grand Canyon. He resented the church and Jesus and I resented his being jealous of my ministries and my need to “be Catholic.” After eighteen, painful, agonizing years of trying, WE admitted failure in our marriage and we divorced. Our friendship was dead and everyone we loved was hurt by the experience. It hurt our children very deeply, not to mention our families who loved us both.
What is normal?
Our society sends the message that we must be heterosexual, married and have families to be of any worth, to be “normal.” There are so many people in our society, who are not called to be married. That does not make us “weird.” I choose to live a single life. I prayed for peace and clarity in my life and the Lord answered my prayers with the gift of celibacy. I am happier than I have ever been in my entire life and it is because I now know that I was never called to be married in the first place. I do not have to be married to be happy and to live a “normal” life. Alone IS normal for me. I am not weird. I am not homosexual. I am not any of those things. I am at peace with my grace filled spiritual relationship with Jesus. God fills my life. My cup is never empty, it is always overflowing with the love of God, with the joy of the Lord.
My greatest prayer for others ,is that they make peace with who they are and where they need to be in their lives; that they are drawn ever closer to God. We are all called to do different things. Some are called to be married and have many children. Some are called to be married and are not given biological children, but instead adopt or work with young people who need guidance and love. Some are called to be single so they may be free to serve others and to glorify God through that service. There is no “normal” so to speak. We are what God has made each of us to be and we are beautiful in His sight. When we reach the point in our lives, where we feel free to celebrate who we are in God’s eyes; then is when we find true happiness and true peace of mind.
I fully understand why priests are not allowed to marry. Relationships take incredible time, patience and investment to work. A priest does not have time to truly serve and to lead his flock if he also has a ministry to a wife and family. Priests work 24/7 to serve the Lord and the Body of Christ. It would be unfair to ask them to divide their focus between wife, family and flock. I get it. Truly I do.
St. Rita: I now have a special relationship with St. Rita. She too wanted to join the convent and, in her case, was forced into an arrangement marriage. Many of the aspects of her struggles mirror my own in my failed marriage. She is an inspiration to me personally.
I will never become a nun, but my calling is still there. I was called to a single life and certainly a life of prayer and devotion to Jesus. The only “MAN” that I need is Jesus. He loves unconditionally and brings great joy. With him in my life, I want for very little else. Truly. I am happy, never alone and I feel very, very loved.
Praise God for my life. Praise God for all!