Confessions Living the Catholic Faith

Finding Love – Part 1: Getting into the Mindset for Love to Happen

3 of 10 Tips For Meeting the Love of Your Life.

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This year, Paul and I celebrated 4 years of marriage and 9 years of romance!

When I think back to where I was before meeting Paul, getting married, and having kids, I am overwhelmed by the joy of knowing how God has brought me to where I am today. The journey has not been easy. Before Paul, there were many difficult moments and hard lessons, many tears shed and nights filled with despair.

God brought me through it all and on the other side was a life and joy that before now, I didn’t know could ever be a reality for me.

There are lucky people out there to whom true love just seemed to show up without much effort. For those lucky ones, finding the love of their life just seemed to happened naturally, even though they may not have even believed it was possible.

That was not the case for me.

In this series of posts, I want to reflect on my journey of finding love and the relationship difficulties along the way. In doing so I will share some of the tough lessons I learned as well as provide those who are struggling to find love with some tips to help you meet “the one.”

In this first post of three, I will share three tips that I used to get myself in the mindset for true love.

Am I meant for Marriage?

Before I met Paul, I had countless failed relationships and began to wonder if God was calling me to religious life. I remember telling my sister-in-law that if I didn’t meet the love of my life soon, I would look into being a nun.

She told me that I had the wrong idea about becoming a nun. That religious life was something to be excited about and feel called to and not a fallback plan.

But it wasn’t that I wasn’t excited about religious life. I could certainly imagine myself praying all day long and being focused on doing God’s work. It was more that I was trying to figure out what God wanted for me.

Was I not meeting the love of my life because God had a different plan for me?

I had this deep longing to be in a relationship, to be married, to love someone and be wholly loved back. But was that deep longing to be filled only by God’s love?

Tip #1: Love God First

A big part of my questioning had to do with a particularly difficult relationship with a guy in my last year of college. We were both chemistry majors and shared most of our classes together. The funny thing is that I didn’t even notice him until I had a dream about him. In my dream, we were in love and a voice told me that he was “the one” for me.

I followed this idea from my dream and began to get to know him while assessing if truly he was “the one”. Over time and as we became better and better friends, I became obsessed with him. I spent most of my waking hours thinking about him and my sleeping hours dreaming about him.

However, he did not have the same feelings for me.

It was a very confusing time in my life and I often asked God:

“Why did you put this person in my life, allow me to fall deeply in love with them, but not have them love me back?”

Because of this situation, I had many sorrowful and tormented nights. I prayed and talked to God constantly, asking for help and understanding.

I would often turn to Jesus to share what I was going through. All of the emotions that I felt: the pain, the joy, the hope, the love and the longing to be loved, I gave to Jesus. What was amazing is that Jesus gave His love back to me. In especially difficult times, I would be met by a comforting sunset, kind words from a friend, the appearance of a dove, or other events that lifted my spirit.

I remember one particular evening when I was heartbroken from being stood up by the guy: I was talking with a friend in the parking lot of a restaurant when a shooting star fell in the sky right above my friend’s head.

Another time, the guy and I had come back from a hike in the mountains and he expressed to me that he was not interested in a “serious” relationship with me. I was very saddened during the drive back until it started raining and as we curved around a mountain, a beautiful bright rainbow arched before us. It went from one side of the mountain to the other so that we drove perfectly underneath it.

These signs made me realize that Jesus heard me and was there for me.

I began to see how relentless Jesus had been in showing his love for me. Eventually, I realized that Jesus was the only person who could love me completely and in all the ways I longed to be loved.

Thus, I needed to love Jesus first above anyone or anything.

In hindsight, it makes sense to love Jesus first above anyone. First of all, doing so takes the pressure off of expecting someone to be able to love us as completely as we want to be loved. We, as humans, are flawed and it is unfair to expect any human person to be able to love us perfectly.

Second, it allows us to gracefully let go of relationships that aren’t working. As we put Jesus first and realize his love for us, it becomes easier to see when others are not treating us well or when a relationship is broken. Putting Jesus first allows us to trust God’s plans for us. It allows us to surrender control over the situation and give ourselves and others the freedom to move on.

And lastly, but most importantly, Jesus longs to be loved by us. Jesus has known and loved us way before we ever realized it. And He works relentlessly to help us see just how much He loves us, because:

Jesus knows that loving Him first is the best thing for us.

By opening our hearts to Jesus and letting Him take control of our lives, He can more freely bring us the blessings and joy we desire.

Before Paul, I had hoped to meet someone like Paul. But what surprised me were all the ways that Paul and I were compatible that I had not even hoped for or thought about.

When you open yourself up to let God lead your life, he can satisfy your desires in ways both known and unknown to you.

Facing Jesus at our wedding.

Tip #2: Know What You Are Longing For in Love

One lonely and tearful night when I had been waiting for a phone call from a boyfriend that never rang, I decided to explore the emptiness and longing in my heart. I asked myself:

What would fill this longing that I have?

I closed my eyes and imagined what would satisfy the longing.

What I saw and felt was the personality of who I wanted to be with. This personality was one that was light, fun, and bubbly. The relationship was like that of best friends. The romance was sweet and kind. There was room in the relationship for us to grow together and as individuals with neither of us feeling held back by the other.

I was excited when Paul and I met years ago because he matched very closely what I had envisioned. He had a quirky and fun personality and he very quickly became my favorite person even before we started dating. At the same time, I tried not to expect anything from our friendship early on because I wanted to be open to whatever God had planned for me.

You can know what you are longing for in love by envisioning your life partner.

Envisioning your life partner will help you understand the longing in your heart. It will help you to know what you are looking for and help you identify when a relationship is not right.

Envisioning what your life partner will be like is NOT about manifesting the man of your dreams.

Therefore, don’t try to envision the perfect man because you hope to manifest this man into your life. For example, don’t try to envision an extremely rich, smart, and kind man who looks like he could be on the face of a romance novel because you are thinking that by envisioning this, it will happen. It will be futile.

The goal is for you to understand and have an awareness of what you are longing for not to manifest an unrealistic dream guy.

Instead, set your mind on the longing that you feel and imagine what it would be like to not have that longing.

What would things be like and who would the person be like if that longing in your heart was fulfilled?

Tip #3: Be Realistic About True Love

I was 27 when I finally decided that I needed to get serious about finding someone. I thought the guy from college was surely ‘the one’ as my dream had suggested, but I suspected that I might be wrong. Especially since it seemed like it just wasn’t working out.

What else was I wrong about, I wondered.

A friend mentioned that the type of love that we were being sold by all the feel-good movies out there was not realistic. That they were wrong.

And yet, I was longing for a type of love that was on that level.

So I decided to get a better idea of what real love looks like.

Make an Assessment of the Marriages Around You

The first thing I did was to make an assessment of the relationships around me. I thought about my parent’s marriage, my sister’s marriage, and my brother’s marriage. From studying science, I knew that I couldn’t base my conclusions solely on the relationships around me because it could just be that I happened to be surrounded by bad relationships.

Luckily, the marriages around me were great examples.

I had seen where my brother and sister were before they met the love of their lives. I had seen where the shortfalls were in their previous relationships.

But when they met “the one” for them, I could see that the relationship was very different than what they’d had in the past.

The relationships they had with “the one” had these qualities:

  • Both persons in the relationship had a genuine like for the other
  • They both had admiration for each other
  • They both were excited to be with each other
  • They had a similar mindset when it came to money
  • They shared many of the same strengths and weaknesses

Their relationships were not void of arguments or disagreements. I’d witnessed plenty between them. But what surprised me was how honest they could be with each other. And I don’t mean in a mean way.

I’d never seen my brother be able to express his honest opinion about something to any of the girls from his past. Many times we are just too busy trying to ensure that the other person likes us. But with my sister-in-law, he was able to say what was on his mind and fully be himself and yet she still respected him. She also wasn’t afraid to say what was on her mind and still be liked by my brother.

Read about Real Relationships

The second thing I did was to read non-fiction books about good relationships. I picked up a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul Love Stories where I read stories about being romanced and examples of what it feels like to want to share your life completely with someone.

My sister let me borrow a copy of Project Everlasting written by Matthew Boggs and Jason Miller about successful marriages. It was this book that confirmed for me that love that lasts for a lifetime exists.

Learn What God Says About Love & Marriage

The third thing I did was to find out what God has said to us about relationships. To do this I read the bible as well as other Christian books such as Wild at Heart by John Eldredge and Captivating by John and his wife Staci. These two books helped me to reflect on the nature of men and women and how they complement each other. They also helped me to understand that the longings that I had were natural and that those longings could be satisfied.

Additionally, I took an Endow class where we read and discussed the Letter to Women by Pope John Paul II and learned further about the nature and dignity of being a woman. Doing so increased my self-respect as well as helped me to see that I had been approaching relationships incorrectly.

Instead of patiently waiting to see if I was compatible with someone before becoming romantic, I rushed into relationships and pushed the relationships to be more than they were. In my yearning to be loved, I gave myself up too easily.

From all this observation and research, my perspective on love changed and I began to see what true love really looked like and how I could change my approach so that my actions were appropriately aligned.

This realistic view on true love was important in helping me to:

  • Fully believe that true love exists
  • Know that true love was possible for me (if God willed it)
  • Patiently look for the right person for me
  • Know when a relationship I was in was lacking in potential for ever becoming true love and gracefully letting go of the relationship
  • Let a relationship with potential unfold naturally without trying to control it

Thus, having a realistic view on true love was pivotal in putting me into the right mindset for true love to happen.

I ended my relationship with the guy from college in March of 2010. The following summer was one of active searching for “the one” armed with this new knowledge about true love, awareness of what I was longing for, as well as full trust in God.

Just 7 months later, on October 15, 2010, Paul and I met.

…and the rest is history.

This post is the first of a three-part series on finding love. In the next post, Finding Love Part 2 – My Active Search For True Love, I share what I did in actively searching for “the one” as well as tips to help those who are struggling in their search for true love.

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