So I a couple months ago, I was practicing with my band, which consists of a few parishioners from my parish. Two of my bandmates are members of the Knights of Columbus, and one of them mentioned that the knights would like for us to play at their Valentine’s Day Diner.
“I can do it!” I said in excitement, “I never have plans on Valentine’s Day!” Despite my happy disposition, I was admitting to what seemed to be an unfortunate truth. I have never that special kind of love. Well, I have had many but all of them were unrequited loves.
I was a late bloomer in life and didn’t go out on my first date until I was nearly 23 years old. Were my parents strict about dating? Heck no! That’s seriously how long it took me to get a date. In high school, I had many crushes but because of my unpopularity, I was shy around the opposite sex. In college, I had many interests but many of the guys on campus were either taken or gay.
I have never had a steady boyfriend. I came close a few times, but it never worked out the way I hoped it would. So as you can see, I have never earned the title as being a man’s girlfriend or sweetheart. When it comes to that kind of love, my life has been a series of disappointments and it started at a fairly young age. When I was about eleven years old, I had my first broken heart when my childhood friend of many years rejected my idea of us marrying in the future because of my poor vision. Yes, I know I was just a kid and he was just a kid as well, but those words pierced my heart because I was rejected based on something that I could not help. Being born with both a hearing and visual impairment just happened to me. It was not something I chose. It simply just is and I prefer to be defined by my choices, not by my circumstances.
I always thought that unrequited love would get easier with age, but I have learned that is not always the case. I can remember one instance that wasn’t all that long ago in which the pain of unrequited love was almost unbearable. In fact it was so painful that the emotional hurt and stress caused me to experience physical pain in my chest. At one point I thought that the pain would lead to a heart attack. I kept praying to God to help heal both the physical and emotional pain go away. It took months and many nights of crying before I began heal. I remember pleading with Him: “Lord, please do not allow me to ever fall in love ever again, unless the guy actually wants to be in a relationship with me.”
Then a light went off in my head. God wants to be in a relationship with each one of us. God loves each of us so much, but do we all respond to His call to be in a relationship with Him? Only one who loves us so much would come down into our existence, suffer and die so that we could live in eternal love with Him. I can recall what a Franciscan Friar once told me on my 34th birthday: “Jennifer, always remember that Jesus loves you. He died for you.”
During that time that I was dealing with the chest pain, which was clearly due to a broken heart, I had a very powerful dream one night that was the source of great healing that began to take place in my life. I was standing outside my home when I suddenly saw Jesus, Himself standing before me. He stood tall, clothed in red garments that had gold trim and I, like a little child, ran to Him and He scooped me up in His arms and held me close to His heart. My eyes filled with tears as I held my arms around Him, my chin resting on His shoulder. I felt so small and yet so precious to Him and as He held me I noticed how high off the ground I was. It was a very beautiful and emotional encounter, and the interesting part is that no words were spoken. No words were spoken at all, and yet I knew He truly loved me. I also felt a deep sense of understanding from Him for He knew all too well the pain of unrequited love. He knew what it was like to have His love handed back to Him. He knew what the sting of humiliation felt like. Our pains became united because we both understood each others suffering.
From that experience on, I have focused less on trying to win the heart of a man, but rather to focus on the heart of He who already gave me His heart in His death and resurrection. He is the one who still continues to love me despite my faults and mistakes, and He has not forsaken me. I want so much to please Him not because I want Him to love me but because He already does love me. He loved me then, He loves me now and He will love me in the future.
Why must I concern myself with finding the love of my life when I already have a Great Love in my life already? Yes, finding love in this life is a good thing, but it is not needed for survival. Without my Lord, I am dead. He is the reason I exist and He is the source of everything I have for He is the ultimate gift giver. He gave me my music, my birds, my friends, my parents, my family, etc.
Therefore, I do not make it my life goal to find a guy and get married. If it happens, it happens, but if doesn’t that is fine too. Being single is not the worst thing that can happen to a person and it doesn’t make a person less lovable than someone who is married or in a romantic relationship. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to realize this.
People have asked me: “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” or “Why aren’t you married yet?” I answer them by saying: “I don’t need a man because I have the Lord.” They give a little laugh and a smile, but I am actually being serious. All my life, I wanted a love that’s eternal and I have had it this entire time. I am sorry it took me so long to figure it out.