By Our Travel Contributor, Alex Gonzales
Being the granddaughter of a seamstress, I grew up with a life surrounded with rich fabrics, free flowing ribbons, all the buttons you could imagine, threads of every color of the rainbow, and random sewing pins on the floor. Customers of my grandmother still come with their daughters and granddaughters for fittings or just for visiting. Yet I always remember the dresses and coats these customers would bring. I would come home from school and find a wedding or quinceañera dress, or a floor length wool or fur coat. They were extravagant and intense and gorgeous. And from there I dreamt of the day I would be fitted for my wedding dress, the day my grandmother would tie the ribbon of the dress which would be the final touch before I was to walk down the aisle. I could not wait for the date nights out on the town with my husband and my winter coat. I could not wait for marriage, my happy ever after.
I guess from there I also decided I was called to marriage as my vocation, and I did not give it any thought or any prayer. I came across the idea of a “Dear Future Husband” letter, and I took the idea and ran with it. It grew into my prayer life being focused on my future spouse, on his protection, on our future together, and our path to find each other. The strength of those prayers carried into my mental thoughts: If I found him already, things would be better. If we were together, life would make more sense. Why can’t I just get married already? Things would be so much easier from then. The problems I have now would disappear. And from there, my “Dear Future Husband” became the coming savior to all my problems.
My “Dear Future Husband” also endured much prim and prep. Lord…I pray that my future husband is spontaneous. I pray he loves the outdoors. I pray that he loves his family, that he can grow a beard, that he has great style, that he is strong, that he is older, that he always happy, that he is all these things of my own selfish desire. I was cropping my “Dear Future Husband” to the family photo I wanted, not the one that had his own crosses he suffered with, one that did not have it all together yet tried, one that was of God’s Will and desire.
I am going to get right to it…writing “Dear Future Husband” letters was an escape for me. It was a means to believe that maybe someday I will get what I want. It was a means of not coping with the present and its problems and getting lost in the potential of the future. If I asked God enough, and if I wrote enough letters, and if I prayed about it enough, surely, it would fall into place, and I would get the Cinderella story I thought deserved.
The hard truth I had to make was that I could have written as many “Dear Future Husband” letters as there are grains of sand, but I am doing something very wrong. When I wrote these letters, I pushed away God’s will for me and decided that marriage was for me. I never considered a vocation in religious life or as being a consecrated single. All of these vocations are equally beautiful and worthy.
This future husband idea is basically me telling God that I know what will get me to heaven fast enough without His guidance or help; it is me not being soft and pliable clay within the Master’s hands but instead hardened, stubborn, and unworkable; it is me projecting my own idea of the love that I think is best for me not what God knows is best for me.
God gave us free will. This means I can potentially (not that I would) choose any guy to be my husband. But if I sincerely surrender my will to God, than I need to be ready to accept the fact that God may choose another vocation for me, out of love and the desire to be in union with Him. If I am honest with myself, at the end of the day, I want the Kingdom of God. And at the end of this earthly life, whether it was lived in marriage, in religious life, or in a consecrated- single life, I want to be able to say that I lived it for the Kingdom of God so I could be in union with my true soul mate. I do not believe we should be in a constantly fixated search for our vocations as the answer to our problems; and writing these letters did that for me. We should be in search for God’s love, God’s Will, and the Kingdom of God, and within that search, God makes our vocation clear.
Maybe these letters have had other effects and have been of aid for others; I do not want to downplay that. I personally cannot write anymore of these letters not because I believe they are innately wrong or unhealthy. I cannot write these letters anymore because I want to be like clay within the hands of God, flexible and ready to be shaped into whatever God wants of me. I haven’t a clue what my life holds. All I know is that when I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ, something finally became real for me: it is not I who lives but Christ who lives in me.