NFP as a single, college age girl

You wouldn’t think that the words “Natural family planning” and “single Catholic college girl” would work together in one sentence very well. Well, until now that is.  It’s not just for married couples – the concepts introduced with Natural Family Planning are concepts that can affect every one’s life, regardless of what stage you’re at.  So why now? 

Because you shouldn’t wait until you are married to start thinking about your fertility.

It’s easy to think that the time we have right now while in college is not the time to be worried about fertility and all that jazz.  We’re young.  We’ve got our whole lives ahead of us.  Yet let me tell you something – it is becoming more and more obvious to me that life is literally flying by quicker than I can blink.  My little sister just graduated from high school.  My co-worker just got married and now has a beautiful little baby.  My college peers are graduating.  Life is happening, and snap you’re fingers and you’ll be at another stage of your life.  Don’t wait until you’re married to start thinking about how to take care of your health and fertility.

Because you should know where you stand on the issue of birth control before you are in a relationship.

The number one reason marriages don’t last anymore? Failed communication.  When birth control was first introduced to the public scene in the early 1960s, it’s affect on issues like divorce wasn’t something that was on people’s minds.  This was about improving marriages! Less stress around pregnancies, littles, and a general well being of the family.  But come in the 1970s, and divorce rates doubled.  And it didn’t stop in the 70s  – the number of divorces tripled from 400,000 in 1962 to 1.2 million in 1981.

Why? Because birth control in a marriage says one thing and does another.  Sex, by it’s unitive and procreative nature, says “Here is all of me!” but the addition of birth control tacks on “Well, all of me except my fertility.  And our future children.”  And that communication can tear down a marriage that is meant to be, according to the Catechism, “ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring” but instead reduces both members down to the sum of their parts.

Because it’s not birth control…which is what my doctors want me to be on.

It seems now a days that any medical issue that arises in a girl’s life is a case where birth control is prescribed by her doctor.  According to a study conducted in the United States, from 2006-2010, 62 percent of all women in the United states who are of reproductive age are currently prescribed some form of contraceptive birth control.

I’ve been there.  I’ve sat down with my doctor and heard how medical issues would be easily, quickly, and painlessly resolved if I would just let her write a prescription for birth control for me.

But there are a lot of risks associated with just the pill – most of which are not gone over in the doctors office when the pill itself is prescribed.  The pill is actually a combination of two different hormonal medications: estrogen and progestin.  Because of this increase in hormone presence in the body, the pill carries with it many side affects, one of them being breast cancer.  Research indicates that the birth control pill itself will increase the risk of a woman getting breast cancer by over 40% if she takes the pill before she has her first child.  After she delivers her first baby though, the chances rocket to over 70% increase of breast cancer risk if she continues for more than four years.

My family has a very high risk of breast cancer on both sides of my family, so taking the pill for me would be not only putting my current health at risk, but also placing the time I spend with my future family at jeopardy
 as well.  Other than just breast cancer risks though, the pill’s side affects also include higher blood pressure, heart health issues, blood clotting, a lack of fertility once off the pill prescription, increase of liver and cervical cancers, difficulty breast feeding and a lowering of the immune system to AIDS and HIV.  

On top of all this, the cost of being on the pill for just five years is over $1,000.  I’m in college.  And I drink a lot of coffee.  The budget that I have for medication is very small – and to be purchasing something that acts as a band-aid for the medical issues that I do have, only to increase my future medical risks and costs isn’t a cost effective choice. 

Studying the concepts of Natural Family Planning – such as the charting and tracking of fertility – is one way that NFP has been a blessing to me as a single Catholic woman.  Instead of relying on artificial hormones, I’m able to utilize the concepts of NFP to track my fertility and expose a lot of the underlying issues that birth control might have covered up – like the simple addition of vitamins into my diet and a better awareness of my fitness and general health.  

Also, this book was incredibly helpful for that reason.  

Because your body is amazing…and knowing how it works is fantastic too.

Even if you’re not married, or heck, if you’re in the same boat as me and you’re not even dating, it’s no excuse to not appreciate how stinking amazing the human body is.  One of my dearest friends is in veterinarian school and sends me facts about the body and the reproduction system and it’s amazing. For instance, did you know that, for women, the smell of a newborn baby triggers the same part of the brain reward center as a drug addiction does?  God has literally thought of everything imaginable and to be able to learn about it is the bomb.

Although it may not seem like it, in your early twenties is the ideal time to learn all of this as well.  Down the road you may have a family, a full time career, graduate degree work, or any other number of amazing thing God has planned for you.  Right now is the perfect time to dig into the amazing work He’s laid out for us in our creation.

Because life is beautiful no matter what stage of life you’re in.

This morning at church I sat behind a family with five littles.  They were gorgeous – all of them under ten and full of life and energy.  And it was beautiful.  Am I utilizing NFP right now to plan my family with my spouse? Nope.  However, knowing how NFP works and the Church’s teachings concerning families right now helps so much when both interacting with families now and when I, God willing, have my own family in the future.

God’s plan for your fertility doesn’t start when you put on a wedding dress.  Or when you are called to start a family.  Or even if you are not called to marriage at all.  Your body is good. It makes it possible for you to be Christ’s hands and feet to the world around you.

This weekend we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension – yet another way that Christ tells us that our bodies are important.  He rises, body and soul, and ascends into Heaven.  If the body wasn’t important, Christ wouldn’t have a glorified one.

So take the time now to learn more about your fertility.  It is never too early to glorify the Lord with your whole self.

For further resources, check out these amazing websites:

– Couple to Couple League: A great way to learn the basics of NFP and how they interact in a – marriage.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: This website has some great articles about the religious explanation of why the Catholic Church supports NFP.

Carrots for Michaelmas: Haley Stewart is probably the most incredible Catholic mama blogger in my opinion.  She’s sassy, has an incredible sense of style, and, in her own words is a “homeschooling, bacon-eating, coffee-drinking southern girl with a flair for liturgical feasts and a penchant for bright red lipstick.”  In other words, who I want to be when I grow up.  She has a fantastic piece on her NFP experience over on her blog.

There are countless of other bloggers who have written on their experience with NFP – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  If you’re looking for some more information on the subject, drop me a note in the comment box and I’ll get you set up.

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Need

More than I ever thought it could have been, my dating fast has been such a blessing – irony of ironies –  becuase it has let me really focus in on what relationship looks like with an objective point of view.  I was thinking about this quite a bit today while I was running – because, face it, the best thinking is either on the treadmill or in the shower.  Let’s be real. What are some of these thoughts then? 

I don’t want a man to need me. 

I don’t want to be the reason a guy goes to Church.  I don’t want to be the middle man (or lady) between a man and the Lord.  This isn’t to discount the beauty of marriage and willing the good of the other as other.  But to be needed? No thanks.  It sounds harsh, but let me explain. 

Let’s say a man needs me emotionally. What would happen when he doesn’t need me anymore? When I’m not the reason that he’s standing, he can lean weight back on his own two feet and I become the pair of crutches that he needed until things got sorted out and healed? Or if a relationship with me is the substitute for what he really needs?

Because he doesn’t need me.  He needs God

I’m not the one who has seen him at his worst and still can make him whole.  I’m not the one who created his soul and who began his existence in his mother’s womb.  I’m not the one who can forgive all his sins with a single word, and welcome him with open arms and unconditional love.  But you know who can fulfill all of that and more?

Colossians 2:10 has a beautiful answer to that question.



For in Christ all the fullness<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-29504P" data-link="(P)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> of the Deity lives in bodily form,
 and in Christ you have been
brought to fullness.
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 over every power and authority.”

Yet not wanting to be needed is a two way street – I don’t want to need him either.

Whether that be the elusive him, the could be, who I ‘need’ in my life before I grow in my faith life…or the actual him who pursues me.  I want who I am as a child of God to be defined without him.  Because when two incomplete, half-people marry each other, they don’t complete each other.  They are just two halves that are struggling to find out who they really are.  I don’t need someone to complete me, because that is my maker’s job.

I don’t want to be defined by the need to be needed.  My definition of who I am is found in the fact that I am child of God. 

What does this all boil down to? A healthy relationship is a relationship that is built on the basis of an identification in God.  You are not defined by who you are with or who you aren’t.  You are not the sum of your failures, weaknesses or needs.  You are summed up by the Father’s love for you. (JPII).  Don’t fall in love with the idea of being needed by someone.  Don’t be in a relationship just because you don’t want to not feel lonely. The healthy relationship is one that works like a triangle.  You’re common need is not each other, or affirmation, or affection.  Your commonality lies in the common goal of God and eternity with Him. Each side of the triangle (both the guy and the gal) are working towards a commonality that is not themselves and is not each other.  Instead, they are working together towards a greater good that is outside themselves and requires sacrifice.  That’s what marriage is – not someone fulfilling your needs, but instead you both bringing each other closer to the one who is the author of love.  

Don’t need someone.  Don’t be needed. Instead, find your identity in the unmovable.  Feelings change.  Needs Change.  Wants change.  But the Lord? Not so much.  In fact, Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  That sounds like a constant to me.

Thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think on the subject.

In Christ,
Chloe 

What I Didn’t Know When I Went on a Dating Fast

I haven’t gone on any dates for the past nineteen and half years.

But I chose to not go on any dates specifically these past five months, and my dating fast will end in less than two weeks. What have these past five months been like?  

Simply opening up every aspect of my life to God this year, including my love life (which I have been so reluctant to give Him) has been an amazing, humbling, gratifying, humbling, and beautiful experience.  Did I mention humbling? God has used these past five months to really let me in on somethings I didn’t know – and things I didn’t know a dating fast would even bring about.

I didn’t know that there were people who struggled with the same things that I did – both men and women.  Being on a dating fast and interacting with guys as brothers in Christ has given me the opportunity for amazing conversations with men that I wouldn’t have been able to have if I had been over analyzing and projecting my hopes for a relationship on them.

I didn’t know about the beauty of being spiritually attracted to someone and their walk with the Lord instead of just being attracted to them based on their outward, physical appearance.  Because when you can’t date someone, you begin to realize their qualities and observe with a general appreciation of who they are in the eyes of God.

I didn’t know about how much God can speak to your heart through scripture.  Switching my God journal back from a ‘talk at God about guys’ journal and back into ‘talk with God about life’ journal has made an incredible impact on my prayer life.  Opening up His word on a more regular basis and hearing Him speak to me through liturgy of the hour prayers and the rosary has also been something I wouldn’t have been able to tap into if I had been spending my time obsessing over dating.  Over and over I was shocked at the immense amount of love that was just waiting for me in those pages.

parks and recreation animated GIF
What opening the Bible up felt like to me. 

I didn’t know how much I loved my sisters in Christ.  Both biological and spiritual, I am truly blessed to know some of the best ladies in the world.  And I’m not exaggerating.  Spending my dating fast as a time to sincerely get to know some of the women in my life was something I will never regret.  I’ve felt friendships get deeper and stronger than I ever have, and have been inspired by them over and over.

Would I advise going on a dating fast? Yes – on the condition of one thing.

Truly discern.  Don’t go on a dating fast because you’ve heard that once you go on one, someone will ask you out.  Don’t start because you’re afraid of what a committed relationship would look like, and scared that you’re not ready for that in your life.  Don’t begin simply because your singles status on Facebook has become a bargaining chip that you throw at God.

Yet be prepared.

Be prepared to be blown away by the way that God can speak to you through countless mediums. Friends, family, scripture, a homily, the rosary, the way a tree blossoms in the spring, or the smell of chocolate cologne (which shouldn’t be a thing, but it is.)

swag animated GIF
Does this make me smell spiritually attractive? 

Be prepared to meet some amazing people who God will put in your life exactly when you need them.  Get ready to be awed by the maker of the universe. 

God can reach out and touch you through human interaction, and when those around you are open to being His hands and His feet, it really is a beautiful experience.

Am I glad it’s over? Hmm….yes and no. Complicated answer, huh? Let me explain.

I am glad to have experienced one-on-one God time.  And letting Him really take a hold of my heart and soul and flood it with love.  But that isn’t something that is going to go away now that the dating fast is over.  If anything, that time probably should increase.  Because when you are in a relationship with a human being, your relationship with God can’t take back burner.  You’re prayer life can’t become something you just do with your significant other and never solo.

But I do think that stepping away from even the thought of a relationship has really let me define what I want a God-driven relationship to look like before I even begin.

My dating fast, despite the fact that I didn’t have to physically give up dating or a boyfriend, wasn’t a walk in the park. I had an incredible mix of days where I struggled with my emotions.  On a Monday, I would so happy to be on the fast, and by Tuesday I felt like beating my head against a wall.  There were some knocked-down-dragged-out-crying-in-the-rain nights with the realization of how much I really needed God in my life.  Because, put simply, I don’t have it together.  It’s a challenge.


REAL dating, real chastity, and frankly, real love involves real work.  It’s not easy.  But one of my favorite saints, St. Catherine of Sienna, once said “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”  I can look back at the past five months without one regret.  I’m striving to treat guys like brothers in Christ and I’ve grown closer to the lover of my soul and maker of my heart. 

So when it comes to dating, relationships, and all that jazz.  Whether you’re in a relationship that is great and God filled or frankly you would be closer to God if you weren’t in the relationship you have, remember this.  You are worthy of respect.  And true love.  The greater the amount of respect that you have for yourself as a child of God and other people as brothers and sisters in Christ , the greater your ability to show true love is. 



Father Benedict once said “You were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness.”  Let’s go out there and live great lives together. ​


In Christ,

Chloe 



You’re His "The One"

Tonight I was listening to a talk by Father Mike Schmitz about the beauty found in the sacrament of the Eucharist.  This post includes some of Father Mike’s thoughts with a little bit of Chloe-isms sprinkled in. 

We’re physical beings.  We have bodies that reside here on a physical earth, surronded by things that we interact with through taste, touch, smell and sound.  We connect with the tangible.  Although we have an eternal soul, we are able to experience the goodness God has provided for here on this earth with our bodies.

Including love.  And other people.  As someone whose love language is physical touch, I can so attest to this.  Body language speaks volumes.  There have been times that I have felt loved simply by someone taking the time to put their arms around me and give me a genuine hug.

Physical touch and contact with friends and family is easy to find.  It’s there in a romantic relationship too.  But what about my relationship with God?  How does my love language translate into my relationship with the Divine? There have been countless times that I have turned to my girlfriends and said “If only Christ could wrap me in His arms and I could feel his warmth in a hug.  And if He wore cologne.” That would be what they call the dream. 

love animated GIF

Luckily, Christ knows the aching of my heart and has the answer (does He ever not?).  He yearns to pull us closer to His heart.  He doesn’t want to just be acquainted with us.  Or be there when we need Him.  Or even be really close friends.  He wants to be intimate with us.

Father Mike tackled this subject of the physical desire, and said, “We shake hands with everyone.  There are a smaller number of people who we would hug.  Even a smaller number of people who we’d kiss.  A smaller number still who we’d kiss like that. And only in the sacrament of marriage are we called to give ourselves totally to another physically.”

Christ doesn’t just want to shake our hands, or give us a friendly nod as we pass Him in the hallways.  He doesn’t just want to give us a hug when we feel bad, or a kiss when we need some lovin’.  No – Christ wants to give His entire self to us.  All of Him.  His whole body, and even His very blood.

But to those of us who have been walking around the Catholic block for quite a while, that amazing mystery seems common place.  Going to Church this Sunday to receive the very body of the creator of the universe? Sure, we’ll take some of that.  We may or not be more excited for the doughnuts after Church though.

Yet day after day, we spend our lives yearning, aching for the one.  Not just someone, or a one, or anyone, but The One. We love love, and want someone to return the feeling.

Yet when we receive communion, every Mass becomes a wedding between you and the best lover in the history of forever.

A lover who knows me better than I know myself.  Who not only recognizes my hopes and dreams, but has plans to amplify them and sweep me off of my feet…and off the path defined by my will.  I think it’s time I got to know that lover better.  He knows the count of hairs on my head…and sometimes I can count the number of times I’ve prayed this week on one hand.

In the Song of Songs, the story of a lover who desires the good of his beloved is woven throughout the language of a fantastic romance.  But at the core of this is the story of a God who is enamored with His beloved.  You’re God’s “The One.”

Song of Songs 7:10 “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.”

He desires us…are we willing to make Him our one

An Open Letter to My Brothers in Christ

Dear Christian Men,

This letter is for you.

Whether you have come into my life already or will in the future.  Whether I count you as a really great friend or will never meet you. Whether you’re a country music listener or an avid alternative music fan.  Whether you pour over books or don’t even pick them up if they aren’t school assignments.  Whether you get to things five minutes early or ten minutes late.

This letter is for you.

Saint John Paul II once said, “Precisely on the level of this language [of the body], man and woman reciprocally express themselves in the fullest and most profound way possible to them by the corporeal dimension of masculinity and femininity. Man and woman express themselves in the measure of the whole truth of the human person.” (TOB Aug. 22, 1984).

You guys are awesome.  You can grow a beard (huge fan), have great cologne that smells amazing hours after you put it on, and in general have very comfy shoe options for formal events. Which I hugely envy.

In all sincerity, thank you. Thank you for the times where you’ve let me truly appreciate my own sense of femininity by honoring who I am as a woman.  For little things, like holding the door for me, walking me to my car after a late night shift or that night class, or being a great lead in swing dancing.

And for the bigger things, like leading me spiritually, challenging my views and urging me to be a better person.  For inspiring me to be a better Christian by your example of loving the Lord.

American author Norman Mailer once said, “Because there is very little honor left in American life, there is a built-in tendency to destroy masculinity in American men.”

He’s right.  And I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for all the times that I’ve fallen back on the old slams of “girls rule, boys drool.”  Yep, those were mature times.  I’m sorry for the culture that we live in.  I’m sorry for the struggle you have to go through each day of your life, bombarded by a hyper-sexualized society that uses the objectification of women as a means of advertisement.

For the times where I’ve used you for my own emotional benefit.  For nailing on you for dealing with visual chastity while indulging in emotional lusting all day without you knowing.  For trying on your last name before even finding out your favorite thing to eat for dinner, your best memory, your passions and desires for life and for the Lord.

For the days where treating you as a brother in Christ fell to the wayside in favor of treating you as a potential…for valuing you for what you could do for me.  For the times when I’ve made the interactions between us a “me vs. them” instead of a journey towards Christ together.

And, on the flip side, for putting you ahead of God and idolizing what I thought would make the “perfect” man and projecting those dreams onto you.

“Relieved of moral pretense and stripped of folk costumes, the raw masculinity that all men know in their gut has to do with being good at being a man within a small, embattled gang of men struggling to survive”  (Jack Donovan)

Thank you for the struggle.

Sincerely,

A striving sister in Christ

14 Days Into the Journey

Well, it’s been two weeks since the dating fast started.

It has been a crazy ride in such a short period of time.

When starting out the dating fast, of course I entered with visions of grandeur, a clean and tidy dating fast in which I would automatically fall more in love with God.  I mean, how could you not?

Little did I count in the fact that my emotions are at sometimes, ok, fine, all the times, crazy.  

This is basically how my dating fast prep went:

The month before the dating fast started:  Ah, this is going to be the best thing ever for my spiritual life. How have I not done this before?  Get to know people without tons of relationships expectations, and just relax.  Cannot wait for this dating fast to start.

The day before the dating fast started: Holy canole.  What in the world am I getting myself into. I’m in college.  If I don’t meet someone now, it is only going to get harder.  This is huge.  This could be the semester where I meet someone.  And I’m going to have to say no because I’m on this dating fast.

Day 1:  I got this!  Heart to heart talks with God, some scheduled time for the Bible, this is great. This is better than great.

Day 5: Ok, it’s hard.  In fact, it’s really hard.  I’m surrounded by available, great guys everywhere I turn.  In class.  In the library.  When I go to dinner.  At work.  In my social groups.  Can I just join a convent?  This would be much easier if I could do a dating fast with no men around.  I feel like the only safe guys to talk to are those who are related to me and seminarians/deacons/priests.  I’m so in trouble if this is how it’s going to be for the next four months.

Day 9: Ok, how have I never noticed all these couples before?  They are literally everywhere?  That kid is in 4th grade and has a boyfriend?  What am I doing with my life?

And then I caught myself.  Because I’d fallen (again) into the trap that what I needed so badly was a relationship with a guy.  I was getting tripped up by guys because I was hoping that there was some potential there somewhere.  And frankly, that’s pretty darn selfish.

Things went from:

“Oh! What a great guy! He opens doors and doesn’t cuss and is super into his faith.”

into

“Hmm…what would our relationship look like.”

Instead of 

“Thank you Lord for a man of God who serves you with His heart.  Strengthen him on his journey and help him do Your will.”

There is a great story about three men who go out for a walk on a summer evening.  As they stroll through the park, they walk past a young woman in a revealing top.  The first man immediately averts his eyes, doesn’t acknowledge the woman’s presence at all and continues on the walk.  The second man indulges in the beauty of the woman for his own good, and cranes his neck to stare at her as she walks past.  The third man acknowledges the woman with a friendly smile and continues on the path, and takes a moment quietly pray Psalm 84:1 – “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts!”

This can be applied to dating fasts too.

The first approach is to totally avoid guys at all costs.  You can’t date ’em, you don’t even want to see ’em.  This results in always wearing earbuds and sunglasses and may or may not include frequent midnight McDonalds runs for food incognito.

The second approach is to go all out.  You’re on a dating fast, but dating is flirting.  Dating isn’t texting.  You’re just lining the options up for when you are done with the fast and in for the feast.

The third option is acknowledge the beauty that God has created in this world (including guys in your life) and thank Him for them.  And then, continue along the path.

So, that’s the goal for the remaining weeks.  Acknowledge and appreciate, then find total fulfillment in God alone.  Pretty lofty goals, but with God all things are possible.

Any thoughts? Tips or hints for dating fasts? (pass them over, I will take anything you can give me.)

God bless!!

Chloe

Falling in Love with Authentic Love

I love love.

Romantic comedies, Disney movies, life chats about relationships, engagement stories, wedding pictures.

My soul sister is Anna from Frozen because of her jump-in-head-first love mentality. (spoiler, that doesn’t end well for her.)

disney enchanted true love cinderella Giselle snow white anna frozen kristoff

So it may come as a shock that the idea of a dating fast has been on my mind quite a lot recently.  And that this semester I’m going to begin a search for authentic love.

And that doesn’t just mean no dating.  It actually entails a lot.

Whoa.  Giving up going out? Flirting? Stalking a guy emotionally (and on Facebook)? Giving up planning out your future children’s names and how they will look so cute in baby blazers and chuck taylors? Deleting that secret Pinterest wedding board?

frustrated animated GIF
What will I even do with all my time now?

I spent my last two years of high school anxiously waiting for college to finally get here just so that things could be different.  I spent freshman year with my fingers crossed that if I could get the right friends, do the right activities and be at the right places at the right times, things would change for the better.

A.K.A., I’d get a date.  Let’s be real here.

Family gatherings or life chats with friends quickly turn to a potential relationship discussion, followed by questions about when I was finally going to go out on date.

parks and recreation animated GIF
“Don’t worry, you’ll find someone someday sometime” 

I was living in a little world where I was looking for just the right guy, and in the mean time, I was an incomplete person, waiting for my better half.  I felt as if something was missing – something from my life was not there, and when I found that one piece of the life puzzle, it would all fall into place.

And I was right.

But it wasn’t a guy who was going to turn things around and lead to sunset-gazing, hand-holding, long-walks-together wonderfulness.

It was the guy.

Or specifically, this guy.

Because I had quickly forgotten in the span of my freshman-sophomore years that I am a daughter of God who is beautiful, unique, and worthy of love.  I had forgotten that I was worth more than I could ever imagine.  “More than how many girls wish they were me or how many guys wish they had me.  Regardless of who I thought I was, the reality was is that I deserved someone who would give up their life for me.” (And if you ever need a pep talk this is the one.)

And I had Him.  But I’d just brushed Him off into the corner to pull out when I felt like it.

I had let my “God journal” become my “Guy journal.”  I had so many talks with God on the walks back from class about if He could just work this one out than I would for sure make my daily Bible reading a priority again.  And I just needed a spiritual guy leader in my life to help me out.

The one day, I heard a question that shook me.

“If the guy of your dreams were to walk into your life right now, would you even be the kind of girl that he would be looking for?”

And I honestly had to say no.  I had spent so much time creating a list of characteristics that I was looking for that it had skipped my mind that I should be working on those virtues too.

 Enter the dating fast.

No dating for this Spring 2015 semester.  No mentally stalking guys.  No pinterest binge nights and rants on how I had everything ready for my future wedding but the guy (which, it turns out, is a pretty important part).

I’m giving God this semester not because I’ve given up on being found by a great guy.  Not because I’ve dated guys a lot during high school and college and have been burnt by it. Not because I’ve broken up with the concept of love.

parks and recreation animated GIF
Nope, not the reason 

But because I want to first fall in love with the man who died to get to know me.  Because I’m tired of walking into Mass and scoping it out for potential guys of interest.  Because I want to know what an authentic God filled relationship would look like.

Because my life needs some silent time to find out what the voice of God even sounds like…so that when He says “There’s the one” I know who is talking.  Or that if He says that and points to His son, I can respond without hesitation.

I am in no way saying that dating is a bad thing.  In fact, it’s very good.  You usually can’t end up with a great person unless you go on some dates with ’em.

But I don’t believe I’m going to be looking back on this fast in five months and saying “Darn it, growing closer to the Lord and treating people like brothers and sisters in Christ was such a waste of time.  Wouldn’t do that again.”

Is it going to be tough? Heck yes.  But one of my favorite women of God, Saint Catherine of Sienna, once said, “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”   

No one one their death bed looks back and wishes they hadn’t gotten to know God and His children better.

So, what are your thoughts?  Have you, too, struggled with emotional chastity and dating obsessions? Let me know in the comments below!

In Christ,

Chloe

I’m more than a number

“I just turned 27 and my friends challenged me to go on 27 dates this year…all with different people.”


“My first challenge to my daughter and her boyfriend was to take a break (taking a break is not the same as breaking up) from seeing each other and date at least ten other people.  I told them they were lucky because Henry and John made me date twenty different women!” – Stephen Arterburn, M. ED., author of Is This the One? Simple Dates for Finding the Love of Your Life.

There seems to be a rising trend in both the secular and more religious areas of dating society to cram as many dates as possible with as many different people as possible into a short period of time.

 Why? To get to know who you really want to marry.

There are many things I can say about this up and coming idea.  Yet to spare you the multiple conversations and choice words, a simply summary would be : I’m more than a number.

Stephen Arterburn founded New Life Ministries, which specializes in faith-based counseling and treatment.  His more common writings include Every Man’s Battle, Every Young Woman’s Battle and subsequent books in each series.
Yet his advice given in the above mentioned newest book misses the mark.  The basis of the multiple dating concept is that marriage is a risky ordeal.  Statistics are in his favor – according to the American Psychological Association, approximately 40-50 percent of married couples in the United States will be divorced.  If this is your subsequent marriage, your chances of a divorce are even higher.

How do you avoid being a statistic?  How do you know for sure that the guy/girl you are wanting to marry is the one?  Can you even be sure?

Arterburn is correct in his assessment that marriage is a huge investment.  In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines marriage by saying, “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of of offspring: this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament.”
Let’s unpack that definition, since there is quite a bit of the Church’s ingenuity in one sentence.  First, the use of the word “covenant.”  This isn’t just a “contract” – an agreement concerning things for the purpose of a mutual agreement.  If I contract my work out to you, and you hate my work ethic, you can fire me.  You are only held to the contract as long as I do what I promise what I told you I’d do.
No – the sacrament of marriage is a covenant.  Both parties of the covenant are promising to hold up their end of the deal regardless of whether the other person does or not.  If I don’t like how you slurp your cereal in the morning, I can’t back out just because this sacrament is difficult.  
There is incredibly gravity in the two words “I do.” It is forever – the whole of life.  
So yes, there needs to be a sense of commitment and the knowledge of a cooperation with God’s will.  But taking a break from your relationship so you can go date ten other people to make sure your boyfriend is the one?  I’m sorry, no.  Trial relationships?  There is no better recipe for disaster.  Saint Josemaria Escriva had this to say on the subject: 
“Love is a much surer, more real, more human reality.  It cannot be treated as a commercial product that is tested and then accepted or rejected on the basis of whim, comfort and interest.”  
Six of the reasons below are Arterburn’s arguments for on why so-called “Take-A-Break Dates” should be practiced.  Each one objectifies and reduces members of the opposite sex into a product for one to test drive before a sense of commitment can be reached.
Arterburn’s Reason One: “If this is to be the only person you’ve ever dated and you want to avoid the regret of never having been on a date with someone else.”

Call me old fashioned, but I thought that when you made the life commitment to someone in a marriage covenant, your life focus should be on how to get that other person, yourself, and your family to Heaven.  Not to reminisce on what it would have been like if you had went out to the movies with John Smith from your college class.  I can think of no worse way to show disrespect to the person you are with in a relationship.  Instead of focusing on the willing of their good as a child of God, you’re going to “test the waters” with other people?  No.
Arterburn’s Reason Two: “If you have been dating each other so long, the break would make sure you’re not just so used to each other that you’re mindlessly moving towards marriage.”

In no way should the move towards marriage be mindless.  However, if your dating with a purpose, the purpose for which you are dating should be to find a spouse.  I may only be just hitting my early twenties, but I don’t have to time to go out with guys I couldn’t see myself marrying.  What about after you’ve made the commitment to marriage and you get used to each other?  Can you wander around and “test out” other relationships then?  I’m sure Arterburn would answer with a resounding no.  So why should you allow practice for that now?
Arterburn’s Reason Three: If you have some doubts that need to be cleared up before you can move forward.

If you have doubts about your relationship, there are plenty of things you can do.  Ask a trusted married couple for advice.  Look into counselling with your parish priest.  Sit down and hash out what’s on your mind.  Talk to each other.  Take a break from the relationship and do some serious discernment.  But to take a break from each other and go see other people to clear up confusion?  That would only create more confusion.  Is there more than one person on this earth that you can be compatible with and raise a family with?  Yes.  Do you need to go out with each of them to make sure you’re picking the right one? No.    
Arterburn’s Reason Four: If you met someone that just might be more right for you, this is a safe, non-confrontational way to take a break and take the date without deception.

This is probably the worst thing to do to your relationship.  How does this conversation go?  “Honey, I’m not sure if you’re the right one for me.  I want to make sure we’re a good couple, but I’m going to go out with other people to get a better sampling of the buffet.  Oh, and it turns out that I like so-and-so better than you, so I guess that’s it!  We’re not meant to be together.”
Grow up.  If the relationship isn’t giving glory to God and drawing you both closer to Him, then call it out and stop.  Don’t date around under the facade of assuring your relationship status.  That’s not called ingenuity, it’s called selfishness and immaturity. 
Arterburn’s Reason Five: If you feel so confident in your future partner you can take the challenge to prove it is as strong as you believe.

What would our reaction be if a young man said, “I feel so confident in my ability to trust God with my chastity that I’m going to meander around on porn sites to test it out and prove that it’s as strong as I believe.”  

No. 
“I’m so confident in my computer’s ability to perform well as a piece of technology that I’m going to submerge it in water, drop it from heights and stomp on it just to prove that it is as strong as I think it is.”  
No.

So if that doesn’t work with other areas of purity and even physical non-animate objects, why in the world would you put a relationship through that?

Arterburn’s Reason Number Six: If you are going to be geographically distant and you want the freedom to at least get coffee or go to a movie with someone else during the separation.  Remember, it is not breaking up; it is simply taking a break.

What happened to good old fashioned commitment?  When being in a relationship meant being in a relationship?

“Well, you’re going to go on an extended business trip, so I figured I’d ask a couple girls out while you were gone so I can have some freedom.”

Break up with him now, honey, he’s bad news.
How can we expect marital fidelity when “taking a break” is encouraged when you’re dating?
Both genders need to have more respect for themselves than this “take-a-break” dating allows.
Girls need to realize that they are not a number.  If a guy asks you out just so you can be number five of his ten dates necessary to find out if his girlfriend is authentic, back away slowly.  No, run away quickly.  If you think you need to go on twenty-seven dates just because you are twenty-seven, you’ve missed the point.  If anything,  as a young woman striving for holiness,  you should be so lost in God that a guy has to get closer to God to get closer to you. 
Guys need to take the initiative to man up in this situation.  Consciously evaluate your relationship and see if it is glorifying God and making you both better versions of yourself.  No?  Then it’s time to move on.  Not take a break, move on.  
Want to ask a girl out?  Then do so only if you can see yourself marrying her. 
Can you find a long-term God filled relationship with the right person?  Yes.  But it is never found by test driving and objectifying other people.  
God bless,
Chloe M.