What have you been given?


Our culture loves to make up fake holidays. National Hot Dog Day, National Get Out Your Guitar Day, World Nutella Day … every food, occupation, habit, or weird hobby has a day. This past week was the annual celebration the world has named Satisfied to be Single Day. It might sound funny, but every February 11 for the past thirteen years, I’ve celebrated it!

Over the years, it’s harder and harder to find friends to celebrate the day with me. And it’s not just because many of my friends are now married. It’s because there’s the idea that to be “satisfied” with something, it must be what you planned and wanted.  Now, granted, much of that is due to the nature of the creation of the “holiday,” I’m sure, which was probably invented by bitter people sick of the hype around Valentine’s Day and who want to try to pretend they could care less. But that’s not why I celebrate it.

To be satisfied with something does not mean you chose it, you never want things to change, or that you are perfectly happy with it every minute of the day.  I’ll be the first to say that being single can be very, very lonely. It comes with lots of headaches and heartaches, from the profound to the mundane.  It comes with having to listen to the complaints and problems of your married friends, when you really just want to shake them and say, “Don’t you understand what you have!?” And it comes with a lot of questions and uncertainty.

But I’m still satisfied. Why? Because, for one reason or another, this is where I am. This is the road God has placed in front of me.  And I have come to discover that love is much bigger than your marital status.

So yes, I celebrate Satisfied to be Single Day.  Not out of bitterness, not out of jealousy, and not out of hatred for marriage.  But because I’m grateful for the abundance of blessings and gifts God has given me, and I want to thank Him by using those to His glory. The man with three talents didn’t get angry that he wasn’t given five.  He went out and used the three he had been given. The man with five wasn’t angry that he was given different talents than the man with three.  Everyone is given gifts, and to sit around and bemoan we weren’t given different ones is a slap in the face to the Giver.

I used to dream of white dresses and numbers of bridesmaids.  Not anymore. And I have found so many other dreams instead. Why waste my time reading bridal magazines when I can write a Bible study, experience a new craft brewery with friends, or play trivia and eat guacamole?

I have to admit, much of this sanity and perspective came from a woman who has become a very dear friend. She taught me – not with words, but with actions – how full one’s life can be, even – gasp – if you aren’t married.  She is a wonderful teacher, one of the most diligent workers I’ve ever met, and a constant inspiration to me. When we’re together, which is sadly not as often as we both wish, we don’t spend our time talking about boys or lamenting the struggles of our lives. We talk about movies and books and theology. We cook and we laugh and we shop and we eat good food and we love life together.  She has taught me – probably without even realizing it – that life is very, very good, and that even though in many ways our field is still a man’s world, there is something very satisfying and life-giving in what we do.

It’s not easy to be satisfied with where we are in life, but everyone can find a reason not to be satisfied.  Stay-at-home moms can forget that they dreamed their college days away thinking about babies.  Busy professionals can forget that they thought that next promotion would make them happy. Rather than always looking at what we don’t have, why don’t we spend some time today being satisfied for what we’ve been given?

The young mother or father that laments that they don’t have the time they once had to sit in Adoration or attend daily Mass; the busy professional that longs for the promotion or a higher profile job so they can make more of an impact; the single person who suffers from loneliness and desires companionship, intimacy, and family. It is not that these desires are bad or evil. It’s okay for the mother to crave silence and alone time. It’s okay for the single person to crave intimacy and companionship.

At the same time, we need to remember that at the end of our life, we aren’t going to be judged on what we were not given. We’ll be judged on what we were.

As a single person, it is easy for me to focus on what I don’t have. When I fold clothes, I wish I was folding the little socks or tiny onesies of someone who depends on my care and love. A mother will probably read that and laugh, thinking they would gladly give me some laundry to do! And yet perhaps they long for silence and to go an hour without being touched, while many single people yearn for their time of solitude to end.

But at the end of my life, I will be judged on what I did with the gift of solitude and free time. Did I make use of those times to serve others, to spend time in Adoration, to go to daily Mass?

A married person will be judged on what they did with the gift of their spouse. Did they spend their life in service, helping their spouse get to heaven? Did they offer the crosses of marriage up?

A mother or father will be judged on what they did with the gifts of life they were given. Did they offer up their frustrations, their housework, their labors as a prayer? Did they do everything they could to help their children fall in love with Christ?

“God will judge each one of us personally according to our circumstances and according to the graces we have received. Each of us has a mission to fulfill on this earth. We have to be faithful to this vocation to the end of our lives. We will be judged according to the fruits our efforts have borne.” (Father Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God.)

Let’s go be saints. Let’s go do God’s work with what we have been given.


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About the Author

Joannie Watson

Joan Watson was born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, but college and graduate school took her to Virginia, Ohio, and Rome. After graduating from Christendom College with a B.A. in History and Franciscan University with a M.A. in Theology, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be part of the explosion of Catholic culture in the middle of the Bible Belt.

She has been blessed to work for Dr. Scott Hahn at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia at Aquinas College. She is presently the Director of Adult Formation for the Diocese of Nashville. She also serves as the Associate Editor of Integrated Catholic Life.

When she’s not testing the culinary exploits of new restaurants or catching up on the latest BBC miniseries, she’s FaceTiming with her eight nephews and nieces and enjoying her role as coolest aunt. She likes gelato, bourbon, and the color orange.

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