A single friend recently confided to me, “I just feel like everyone is pushing me to marry even though I don’t feel called to marriage and if I express that then they ask me what orders I’ve looked into.”
I have to admit, I get so caught up in my vocation, that of wife and mother, sometimes I forget there are others. That a vocation to the single life is every bit as valid and should be as celebrated as that of mine. That although some may be called to be wives that some wives may not be called by God to be mothers (through no choice of their own).
I find that in most Catholic circles we tend toward a dichotomy of women’s vocations: the home and the convent. I have, in my time, though met a few (and it seems there are very few) women (and men too) who were not called to either. They were called to be single. They have lived and continue to live fulfilling lives. Lives full of Christ. But not traditional lives by most standards.
Similarly, I have seen many families who have not been blessed by biological or adopted children who fulfill their marital vocation sharing their love in beautiful ways. For those whose sadness has been profound, it seems they have some of the most beautiful expressions of love through their marriage. I think of a military couple that attended my parish a few years ago that were unable to have biological children due to an injury the husband suffered while deployed and when they found out his condition precluded adoption spoke of showing their love through volunteer experiences and making trips together to pilgrimage sites around the world to mark their anniversaries.
Unfortunately, on the flip side, I have seen marriages falter and end, in which later the husband or wife states they felt pressured to marry by family, friends, even priests, even though they did not feel called to that life. And that is a real tragedy.
Perhaps instead of always praying (as many do) for a spouse for a friend we should pray that they are best able to fulfill whatever vocation God has set out for them. That they answer His call, not the call of persistent relatives or gossipy friends. We should remember that our lives were made for us alone and theirs will be as well.