Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On Marrying Young (Or Not): How I Met My Vocation

It's been a while since I last posted in my On Marrying Young Series, but I still have some thoughts on the series and several guest posts to share.  When Kate contacted me about writing a guest post on NOT marrying young, I was thrilled.  She married at the average age and represents a demographic of married couples I haven't yet touched on on this series.  There are blessings and difficulties about marrying at any age, and I'm so excited to share her story.  Thanks, Kate!

Took me 26 years to find him, but I wouldn't have it any different.
"Young" is a loaded term. When you're an 18-year-old senior in high school, you feel wise and mature in comparison to the oatmeal brained freshmen in the hallway. When you're 23 and the youngest person in the office, you feel like you hardly know anything and have years of learning to catch up on.

I was 26 when I married my husband in June of 2011, and my husband was 27. We were both out of school, had careers, and had been living on our own for years. This is pretty typical, I think.

On the other hand, we met in May of 2010, and started dating at the end of August. For you counters, that's 13 months (actually 12 months and 2 weeks) from "Hello" to "I do." Nearly everyone we knew thought we were insane.

I grew up the oldest of eight children, in a rambunctious, loving, Irish-Catholic family in Syracuse, NY. I started changing diapers around 6 or 7, and have been rocking and feeding babies, rescuing toddlers from the brink of death, settling fights between elementary schoolers, and helping middle schoolers with their homework ever since. I emerged from that upbringing certain of one thing: I would not get married, I would not have kids.

Name: Responsible Adult: Date: Someday
I went to a Jesuit college in Buffalo (Go Griffins!) with a career in journalism in mind, but when I graduated in 2007 newspapers were failing and I was pretty aimless. I wish I could say I was open to God's plan, or that I joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps after prayer and discernment - I would be lying. I was tired of snow, and wanted something new. So I went to spend a year in Phoenix before I figured out my 'real life.'

Three years later, I was teaching High School English in a one-Walmart town scant minutes from the border, working in Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Tucson. I was a completely different person. I was attending weekly mass of my own volition, I was seeking my vocation, trying to teach for the Greater Glory of God every day (and frequently failing), and choosing to spend my weekends involve in retreats and Youth Ministry conferences, instead of doing anything else.

The year living alone after JVC,
 far from friends & family was
miserable, exhilarating, and instructive.
Through a year of JVC I learned to live, share, and communicate with people who were neither friends nor family. I fine-tuned my cooking skills. I learned that am fast, loud, and abrasive - and that some people are insurmountably slow, quiet, and meek - and how to live and work with them. A year of living alone taught me introspection. I learned to listen in prayer, to value conversations even with strangers. My first experiences of anti-Catholic prejudice taught me to cling fervently to my faith and defend it staunchly. I learned to thirst for the grace of the Eucharist, and to hunger for daily Mass.

And only then did I meet my husband.

Within weeks of dating, it became clear to me that he was my vocation - the one and only man God created intentionally to be my husband - and that the experiences and challenges of my life had been molding & shaping me into the woman he was meant to marry. Our first date was August 28th. I informed him that we would be getting married on October 16th. He proposed on December 23rd, and - as I've mentioned - we were married June 11th.

What you can't see is that it's 80
degrees, 95% humidity, and a
100-year-old church with no AC.
Thanks Syracuse.
I am happier - and I am closer to God, and to holiness than I've ever been. My husband is my golden ticket to sainthood, my best friend, and the one person with whom I can be entirely myself (I am incredibly weird and awkward in real life).

And I almost missed it.

I didn't realize that I was on my way to him - I had no idea, I couldn't see the scope of God's plan. I could only see the tiny moment I was in, and I was lonely, and angry, and - at that point - certain that I'd never get married, that I'd never find anyone who could possibly love me.

New Year's Eve. Isn't my husband handsome?
I was silly and short-sighted. I wasted far too much time on worthless relationships, and with a guy who didn't even value himself, let alone me. I didn't save myself for my husband, because I'd given up hope. I put up with being treated as less than precious, because I didn't realize I was precious.

And here's why I'm writing this: because God has a plan for you. Whether you believe it or not, His love for you is more vast than the universe, and you are an intricately carved piece in an enormous puzzle. There is a place for you - it may be married, it may be single, it may be religious life. When you reach the place that God has planned for you, you will be happier and more fulfilled than you can understand now. There will be hard days there - and there will be hard days on the way there - but God knows you better than you know yourself, and he's taken all of your foibles and strengths and traits into consideration.

I don't put any thought into whether I married young or old, whether we dated too long or too short, because I know I am where - and with whom - I am supposed to be: with the man God created to be my husband, in the home we make together.

I said I was changed, I never said I was perfect.

Kate lives and works in Tucson, AZ, with her husband Adam and Chewbacca the dog. She eats too many carbs, swears too frequently, and is incredibly grateful that she might get to heaven anyway. If you're not tired of her yammering yet, you can find more at

Please check out the other posts (including some great guest posts) in my On Marrying Young series.


  1. Love! (And love how happy you two look, too!)

    I married young (at nearly 22), not because it was My Plan, but because I just happened to meet my husband early in life and that's how it worked out.

    And I've just been to the weddings of several dear old friends who married at 29, 32, and 37--and my best friend will marry at 34 this summer.

    It's not the plan they had in mind years ago, but oh well--it's been so wonderful for them and those close to them to see their plans unfolding in their own unique ways--and in their own time.

  2. Great post, Kate! It is so nice to know that you are now with your beloved :)
    It is so good to know how you came back to God and let him lead you :)

  3. Beautiful story and beautiful pictures. So happy you've found the plan (and the man) God had in store for you. Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. Great post, and very well written. I wholeheartedly agree with the statement that God has a plan whether you believe / see it or not.

    I don't think you are crazy at all, with the quick pace marriage/engagement. Especially because you were older than me & my husband who, as you may have read, met & married in 1.5 years at ages 20 and 21.

    I'm glad you found your vocation! :-)

  5. Another great post. Really looking forward to hearing your views on this topic Mandi!


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