I get a little sentimental around this beginning of Fall time. Four years ago, right around now, I was spending all my time crying in the chapel and trying to make myself eat. My first serious relationship had just ended, and even though I was the one who chose to end things, it didn't lessen the ache at all.
I guess 21 was kind of late in my life for a first breakup. In high school I was incredibly shy and went on a total of two dates ever, both of them laughably awkward (well, now they're laughable), and I spent my first few years of college longing to meet my husband, with plenty of crushes but no boyfriends. At the time I couldn't feel any lamer, but looking back, I can see so clearly how the Lord was protecting me.
I have a theory. In my observation and experience, the more one comes to know God, the more one comes to know himself or herself. When I think about my sense of self-knowledge as a high schooler, there's not a lot to think about because there wasn't much there. I was reasonably happy, at least in a surface kind of way, and had been on a few retreats, but I wasn't really alive, you know? I wasn't very discerning as a critical thinker or very aware of my shortcomings when it came to pursuing virtue.
My conversion during college involved not just a new spiritual life, but a more examined life. I learned so much about true, virtuous friendship, authentic love, and especially about Our Lady through my classes, friends, and prayer group. When I consider how much all those things formed my heart, it makes me realize how darn blessed I was to have not dated much before I met my husband. I feel like I have such a greater sense of who I am now than I did five or six years ago, as me specifically, but even more so, as a daughter of God. If I'd dated much before I had that sensibility, I can see myself dating with much less purpose, being way too emotionally invested at the wrong time, and probably creating a lot of regrets with chastity.
This isn't to say that knowing Jesus and Mary in a deeper way than I used to means I know everything, that it's too late to start over if you've made mistakes, that it's bad if you've dated more than I have, or that being in a relationship makes your spiritual life easier. So, so far from it. I guess what's on my mind today is that a few years later, seeing how abundantly the Lord has blessed me, I wish I could tell my younger self not to be so restless and so grasping. I read a wonderful thought this weekend. Christopher West says,
"[Love] is possible 'only as a result of a gift of God who heals, restores, and transforms the human heart by his grace.' This means that holiness is not first something that we do. It is first something that we must allow to be done to us. Holiness is Christ's gift to his Bride."
It's grace, all of it. I'm humbled and amazed.
So, agree or disagree? Does knowing God lead to deeper self-knowledge and a truer sense of reality? I love hearing your thoughts!