The inherent subjectivity of love means that no philosophy or style can be a one-size-fits-all approach that works for everyone. So as one seeks romantic love, spirituality demands attentiveness to the emotions. Awareness of one’s emotions can help attune the heart and soul to more deeply understand the will of God. As one navigates the treacherous waters of single life, how can a spiritually grounded approach help steer the ship?
First and foremost, pursue the spiritual discipline of detachment. In the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius describes this sense of balance or indifference as “making use of those things that help to bring us closer to God and leaving aside those things that don’t.” If you find yourself frustrated at not finding a significant other, confront it with earnest spiritual authenticity. Acknowledge the emotions of that apparent hurdle. Identify what God is revealing to you about yourself by those emotions and move forward.
If the frustrations are causing fixation and obsession, remember old Uncle Screwtape and turn instead to the good that God is working in your life and move forward with it. We must cast aside narrow-sightedness and look more broadly for God’s endless grace.
As a junior in college, I connected with a friend and quickly grew very close to her. We traded wordy emails and shared lengthy video-chats while I studied abroad, and when I returned to the States, we hit it off in person. But as fast as it sparked, it flamed out even more quickly. And in experiencing my range of sadness, disappointment, anger, and confusion, I didn’t make space for myself to legitimately process and accept the outcome, or for my friend to be able to move on. It wasn’t until six months later, when I finally let go of her and of our romantic relationship, that I realized the affections of another dear friend who had helped me through it and opened my heart anew and more widely to her. Six and a half years later, we are married and just welcomed our first daughter. If I hadn’t been able to let go of that star-crossed relationship, I might have remained blind to the potential love awaiting in another dear friend.
Detachment necessitates humility, fosters patience, and facilitates joy. Read More