For my fellow life teen readers, you may already know this amazing woman. Jackie Francois is amazing. She has a beautiful story about how she met her soon to be future husband, Bobby Angel. You can read about it all on their blog, www.bobbyandjackie.com - and I really recommend it.
The reason that I want to talk about Jackie is because I read an article that she had written in the National Catholic Register this last weekend. It really hit home with some things that I've been struggling with lately, so I have to share pieces of the article and my thoughts about them.
The article itself is entitled "How to Know You've Found Your True Love." In it, Jackie talks about how making it through the dating/mate-finding part of life for young Catholic adults seems to be getting harder and harder. She speaks about how, as humans, we are created in the image of God. And, since God is love, we inherently have a desire to love and be loved - to give ourselves completely to someone as God has given Himself completely to us. As Catholic young adults progress into the age where they are eligible for marriage, this desire becomes deeper and deeper. For some, it seems unfair and hard to watch friends date, marry, and even have kids before they have even received so much as a invitation to a movie.
This leaves the Catholic single girl in a stage where she starts viewing every single Catholic guy in her life as a potential. What is so funny about this is that I've been struggling with this issue myself. I have found it really hard to look at guys in my life as brothers in Christ instead of as potential future mates. Like Jane Austen said, "A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment." Yet we aren't going to marry every cute Catholic single guy that we are introduced to. We only need one.
This is where the challenge comes in. At this point, there are probably many guys in the world who I could be completely content with marrying. There are also a lot of guys who wouldn't quite work out. So, this brings up the challenge of finding out if the guy is theguy. Jackie had a couple of suggestions/steps to follow that helped lead her to her current engagement status.
Step one: You finally have peace and joy. Have you ever been a situation that you are really torn in? You probably know what I mean when you have that nasty feeling in your stomach when you know something just isn't right. If you have this deep anxiety about your relationship with a guy, then this is probably an indicator that it just isn't right. Jackie points out that if you are constantly justifying either of your actions, then there is something wrong. On the other hand, you know that your relationship is on the right track when you don't have to make excuse for either your or their actions.
Step two: The relationship is life-giving. A marriage works best when you are equally yoked. The big point of this is being equally yoked in religious beliefs, but also on levels of intelligence, and matters of spiritual, emotional, and physical health. When you aren't "evenly matched" it can feel as if you are either pulling your partner along, or you are being dragged behind a racing horse. Not that I speak from experience, but I'm guessing neither of those are good feelings. Even in a friendship, we look for people who we know can relate to us. When you are looking for someone to share the rest of your life with - and help along in all levels of life, this is pretty important. Especially when you look at the fact that both of you are supposed to get each other to Heaven.
Step three: You can just be yourself. To me, this was the most important step. Does anyone remember that Full House episode when the teenager daughter was interested in a guy who liked cars? Instead of saying that she didn't really know a lot about cars, but would still be interested in learning about cars with him, she told him she knew everything about cars. Then she ran home and poured over car magazines for the whole day before her date with him. This isn't true love! This is putting on a fake mask to impress. Masks are pretty hard to keep up all the time....eventually they'll fall off. Jackie points out that, "Your spouse is someone who will see you at your best and at your worst - and will love you all the more, despite your faults and weaknesses." So the key to knowing you found the right girl/guy is when you aren't afraid to be yourself. They know you don't like sports, or can't stand horror movies. They don't mind that you don't talk a lot, or are more of a night owl than a morning bird. The key here is this: Your spouse is who you can be with and not be afraid of trying to disguise the person God created you to be.
Finding your spouse is a pretty daunting task if you try to do it by yourself. The stress and load of it all shrinks dramatically when you lay the whole burden on Christ's shoulders. Let God write your love story. He knows your heart's desire better than even you do. To top it all off, He created you, loves you, and knows what is the best for you. Trust Him...He's just waiting to help.