I've been thinking about this off and on since I last posted about this topic. I also started a new book by Matthew Pinto, Freedom: 12 Lives Transformed by Theology of the Body. The first couple of stories were single people (either through divorce, or had never been married) and how it changed them. One could have been my story!
Anyway, here are my thoughts. The whole point of any theology is to bring us to deeper knowledge of God. Theology of the Body, for me, has been far more than knowing more about God. It is about knowing God on a much more intimate level. It is about falling in love with Love, and realizing that He loves us in all the ways that we most crave to be loved.
When I first started to study Theology of the Body, I thought it was a great preparation for marriage. In fact, I thought wasn't it great that God had me wait a couple of years longer than what I really wanted to wait, just so I would have time to study this and be an even better wife. If I had met someone and gotten married two years ago, that's about what the experience would have been.
The last two years have been a lot of things. On the one hand, the desire to be married deepened. When I didn't think I could take any more, it would get deeper still. It broke me. In the midst of this I heard Christopher West speak twice, and both times when single people would question him, he reminded us that marriage is only a sign of what we're all called to. Our ultimate fulfillment is Christ, not a spouse. He reminded us that all women are called to spiritual motherhood, even if for some reason (biological or life situation) they were not meant to be mothers physically. In the back of my mind, there was a bitter little voice that wanted to tell Mr. West to keep his scraps for himself; I still wanted the feast of marriage. Or at least I wanted God to choose me for religious life. Give me some kind of purpose.
As we know, God doesn't always do things the way that we like. I wanted the green grass in the other pasture, but God led me to the desert instead. That brokenness left me not knowing where to turn, with an intense thirst for love and family and no place to quench that thirst. He even started to pull away the supports that I had. You know, those things that you depend on. I may not have a husband or children, but at least I have x, y and z. Guess what. When x, y, and z are gone, it is not a fun place to be.
[I will] strip her naked
and make her as in the day she was born,
and make her like a wilderness,
and make her a parched land,
and kill her with thirst.
... I will hedge up her way with thorns,
and I will build a wall against her,
so she cannot find her paths. (From Hosea 2)
But it was only in that place that I could finally realize that Mr. West was not throwing me some scraps. The healing that I was looking for, the worth that I was looking for, the love that I was looking for was not in anyone but God. It sounds so obvious, but the head knowledge of that, and coming to experience the reality of that are two different things. There is no place in the heart for the experience of God until it has been ripped open to receive Him. That is why the desert is such a glorious place.
"Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me 'My Husband'.... and I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord."
Note: I wish this meant that I will never complain again. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the way that I roll. I still have a deep desire to be married someday, and it still hurts and I still react badly sometimes. But it is a gift that I am grateful for, even while I struggle to continue to be open to it!