What the hell...gives me something to write about;)
I joined the Catholic Church in college and have spent the last ten years discerning a call to religious life. In essence, I simply wanted to serve God with all my heart, strength, and soul, in whatever way that might look like. But I took to heart the words of St. Paul: "it is better for a man not to marry," and felt that it was the Lord's will that I serve Him as a celibate monk.
In December of 2008 I made a leap of faith and formally petitioned to join the contemplative Benedictines of Christ in the Desert Monastery in New Mexico. To my great disappointment, I was told by the Abbot (whom I had stayed in touch with since my initial visit in 1999) that I was not a suitable candidate due to my diagnosis of bi-polar disorder. It was a great blow to my idea of what God had in store for me, and I felt, in some way, that He did not want me working in His vineyard, and that as a person with a mental illness, I was "damaged goods." I just hoped that God was going to open another door somewhere else, since He seemed to have slammed this one in my face!
A priest in college told me to pray often for your future spouse (even if you don't know her yet), so I spent a lot of time in Adoration doing just that. I joined Catholic Match a few years ago in the hopes of keeping the door open to a relationship with a woman of faith, if this was what the Lord had in mind, while I discerned my vocation. I dated on and off during this time, and had a number of serious relationships, but none that felt "right." My faith does not fit into a neat little box, and this was something I felt hesitant about in my efforts to meet other Catholics. More than anything, I wanted to connect with someone who accepted me for who I was...a sinner in need of God's mercy, compassion, and friendship.
In February of 2009 I met Debbie on Catholic Match. Initially I declined her invitation to meet because I was seeing someone else, but when that didn't work out I emailed her back the day before my subscription was about to expire to see if she would want to get together for a friendly cup of coffee. I borrowed my dad's car (I was living in Philadelphia at the time and didn't have one) and drove down to Wilmington to meet her. I am very sensitive to a person's energy, and when we met I immediately felt comfortable in Debbie's presence. She was kind and calm and radiated goodness. We spent the night in the coffee shop sharing our conversion stories, and just getting to know one another.
We continued to write and talk on the phone, and I bought a car so I could see her on a regular basis. We went for walks and discussed the implications my illness might have for our relationship. I felt so humbled and honored that Debbie saw all of me, not just the good parts, and accepted them lovingly. As time progressed and things got more serious, I began to reflect more on the Creation story, how Adam longed for a "suitable partner" to go through life with. The more time I spent with Debbie, the more I realized I had found that suitable partner--"bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh." She felt the same way, and we are now looking forward to serving God together as husband and wife when we celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony in July 2010. We know it will not be an easy road, but we have faith that God will give us what we need to have a successful marriage.
We are both grateful for Catholic Match and the opportunity to have met through what seems to be a quality website where the Lord can work His mysterious, awesome ways!