More profiles to come … Promise!

Hey folks! We still have some profiles in the queue, and are very excited to share them with you. But I will be on retreat the next couple days and unable to post them. So…count on a few more at least as we start the new year.

And count on my prayers over the next few days!

God bless you,
Mabel

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Profile No. 20: Arleen Spenceley

Profiles in the Gap

Arleen Spenceley

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Arleen Spenceley is a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times and author of a forthcoming book about love, chastity, and sex, to be released by Ave Maria Press in Fall 2014. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in rehabilitation and mental health counseling, both from the University of South Florida. She blogs at arleenspenceley.com and tweets @ArleenSpenceley. Click here to like her on Facebook.

 

Did you expect this time of singleness? 

Ultimately, yes. In short spurts (mostly while getting to know guys I thought were good for me), I might have expected to be married, or engaged, or at least in a marriage-bound relationship by the time I turned 28. But if I put a lot of thought into how I’ve spent my 20s so far, that I am single today was pretty predictable. It was college first, and then grad school, and then the book I’m writing now. Since grad school, I’ve found myself saying “THIS is the busiest I’ve ever been,” and saying it with increasing intensity with every passing semester: “No, THIS is the busiest I’ve ever been – for real, this time.” That isn’t to say people can’t meet and love and marry each other while they’re busy, but that I didn’t go a lot of places where meeting a guy was likely. One semester, I worked 32 hours a week for the newspaper, interned 14 hours a week as a counselor, took one or two graduate level classes, and wrote a book proposal, while living, working, interning, and going to school in four different cities. It is solely the result of how awesome God is that I survived that, and for the best from a bunch of perspectives that I didn’t try to date on top of it.

If so, is it what you expected it to be? If not, what did you expect, and has the change been exciting or disappointing? 

This season of my thus-far single life is not what I expected. It is way crazier and more fun and scary-in-a-good way than that.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career? If so, can you elaborate? If not, where do you seek / find it? 

I do find fulfillment, in part, in my career. One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from theologian Frederick Buechner. It says, “Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.” Writing is my passion, and there’s a lot of fulfillment found in getting to do that professionally, and in doing what I can to learn how to get better at it. What makes it better, though, is getting to merge it with the world’s greatest need. What I see as the world’s greatest need is an education in a better way to live, as modeled by Jesus, who makes living a different kind of life worth it.

How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult? 

There is a stigma attached to single life sometimes, as perpetuated by single people and by people who think everybody’s supposed to be married, and just as erroneously, that everybody’s supposed to be married by a certain age. My faith is the umbrella that covers everything in my life, which is why I’ve averted adoption of these attitudes. An old, viral article about early marriage I read once said marriage is a formative experience, in which spouses grow, and grow up. I think the article implied that people who don’t marry particularly young forego that growth, but I totally disagree. Every day is a formative experience. We’re all going to grow, no matter our states of life, if we’re willing.

Since you have this time, what are some challenges you give yourself?

For various seasons in my single life, I have challenged myself to go without stuff that previously had been staples for me. I called 2010 “My Sugar Free Year” because I gave up all food that had added sugar in it (with the exceptions of bread and condiments). I spent several years without Facebook or Twitter or texting. I probably will come up with a year-long challenge for 2014, but I haven’t decided yet what I’ll do or give up. I really, really, really like a challenge, especially if it requires asceticism. Voluntary self-denial is good practice for parts of life like work or marriage or parenthood, in which we have to put other people’s needs before our own. Plus following Jesus always requires self-denial, and this is kind of a way to improve my ability to do that.

If you didn’t have to worry about failure, what would you do with this time that you might be putting off out of fear?

I think I worry about fear itself more than I worry about failure. The part of the fear of failure that stops us from pursuing stuff isn’t the potential for failure, but the fear. I hope in my life to do a lot of what Harriet Lerner writes about in her book The Dance of Fear: “When you avoid what you fear, your anxieties are apt to worsen over time…. If you fear rejection, you may indeed need to accumulate more experience being snubbed.”

Profile No. 19: Brett Manero

Profiles in the Gap

Brett Manero

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Brett Manero is a young professional and Theology student living in Washington, DC.

Did you expect this time of singleness?

Hmm, yes and no. Yes, because I knew that I’d need (and want) my 20s to be a time of exploring, growing, and preparing. No, because like the rest of us, part of me imagined that I’d be settled by now! But thank goodness I’m not, because I know that being single at this very moment is exactly what I’m supposed to be. It’s a perfect place to say, “Lord, here I am, I come to do your will.” And knowing Him — He’s full of surprises.

Is it what you expected it to be? If not, what did you expect, and has the change been exciting or disappointing?

Right after my college graduation, I stayed in Scotland (where I studied for my undergraduate) to work for six months. I remember praying one evening and almost catching a glimpse of my coming 20-something’s, and what a roller coaster ride it would be. I knew it would be a time of “changing seasons” — different career experiments, grad school, relationships, friendships, etc. I knew it would feel tumultuous at times — that it could be a time of great excitement and joy, but also great challenges and disappointments. I wrote a short story shortly after college about going through your 20s; in it I describe it as a “lonely decade.” Lonely, because you’re not quite settled on things like vocation and career yet, and “getting there” can be quite a hike. But that’s part of the fun.

Overall, it’s been as I expected it to be. However, I certainly never expected to live in Washington, DC. My older brother and sister lived here and I didn’t want to “follow in their footsteps” by moving here. But, as often happens, God had a different plan — and here I am, and I can totally see why I’ve been here.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career? If so, can you elaborate? If not, where do you seek / find it?

Absolutely. I work for the Church, so the work we do is of course fulfilling. Getting to know so many other young Catholics through work has been a phenomenal blessing. When I eventually am working in a secular environment, that transition from being around the Blessed Sacrament and a Catholic presence all day will be weird! But we’re called to go out into the world to share our faith — in the workplace especially. Pope Francis has reminded me quite a bit about that.

How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult?

My faith guides my life! Being Catholic is awesome. I came back to the faith during my college years after growing up as a “halfway Catholic.” I can’t imagine life without it. Trusting in God — that He’ll guide and provide — is key.

“Build Up For the Future.”

My best friend in college, a Protestant, said this to me years back. I see my 20s as a sort of “springboard” for the rest of my life — to grow spiritually and professionally, to prepare for my vocation in the long-run.

One of the best pieces of advice my spiritual director gave to me a few years ago was: “Pray the Rosary for your future spouse. Offer it up as a sacrifice for her.” So, a few days a week I offer that prayer.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that, with God, it’s impossible to predict the future. He is so full of surprises and loves to open (and close) doors for us. I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now — still in DC, somewhere else — but I try not to stress too much about it. He’s got it covered.

If you didn’t have to worry about failure, what would you do with this time that you might be putting off out of fear?

So much to choose from. I would travel again. I’d go on some kind of a missions trip to the Middle East to help the persecuted Christians there.

Vita est pulchra! (Life is beautiful)

Profile No. 18: Claire

Profiles in the Gap
Claire
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Claire is an anonymous Catholic blogger in the UK. She blogs at Everything Is Grace. Follow her on Twitter, @CCGraceBlog.
Did you expect this time of singleness?
When I was a kid I had a lot of plans and expectations as to what would be happening in my life at the age of 25. I had envisaged a big beautiful house, a lovely husband and at least one bouncing baby on my knee… The actual picture of my life is vastly different from this. If you must know, I recently moved back in with my parents, I don’t drive, I don’t have any prospective boyfriends, and I work two part-time jobs in a city that takes me three hours traveling to and from everyday. This was all very unexpected. I may have had a little crisis moment before my 25th birthday where I thought, “Where have I gone wrong?” But I realise that I am probably the happiest I have ever been in my life. Nothing is perfect, nothing is the way I want it to be. But this is what God has made it, and it is the best thing ever.
What did you expect, and has the change been exciting or disappointing? 
I did not expect this time of singleness. I completely assumed that my life was going to go along the same path as everyone else I knew and looked up to. I am not going to lie and say that I am over the moon that I have not fulfilled my goals, but as a priest friend reminded me of this week, it’s not about my goals. My plan is not the plan, His plan. Jeremiah 29:11 is something I try to learn from on a daily basis. God does have a plan, and it could be similar or completely different to the plan teenage Claire had, but whatever it is, He will be executing it in His own time. Meanwhile, what’s happening right now is keeping me with a smile on my face. I am safe, warm, well-fed, nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, surrounded by people I love, and growing into such a beautiful relationship with Christ.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career? If so, can you elaborate? If not, where do you seek / find it? 
Ahhh the career question. I work for two different charities – a non denominational pro-life charity and a Catholic charity. All things aside I love what I do. I love the people I work with and for. I love the potential of the places I work in, and what they could do in the future. I love being part of the journey. But I can honestly say this is just a moment in time for me. I dream of bigger and better things. I want to work with people. I want to own my own business. I want to make people happy. I want to bring people closer to Christ. Again, these are a lot of things I want! But it all depends on what He wants.
How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult? 
My faith essentially forms everything about me. I am a very optimistic person, and I believe that this optimism stems from a knowledge of the life God has built for me, and the promise of life with Him forever. I know that anything that goes wrong is not really the end of the world, and I know He looks after me. Having faith means I look at everything very differently — from what I eat, to what I do, who I hang out with, the situations I can get myself into…. down to random things like the charities I can support and the people I vote for. People look at faith as something restrictive, but I see it as something incredibly freeing. Having a life of faith has opened so many doors for me, created so many opportunities and made me who I am today. It definitely reassures me as a single woman. I look at my peers who don’t have faith, but who are single — they throw themselves at every man/woman with a pulse, they crave attention, they crave love, and they look for these things in all the wrong places. I know that Christ loves me more than any man ever could, and I learn each day that this love is enough for me, and anyone that comes along will have to slot in with that love.
Since you have this time, what are some challenges you give yourself? If you didn’t have to worry about failure, what would you do with this time that you might be putting off out of fear?
Faith is a challenge and a half; anyone who says it’s easy is talking crazy talk! Picking up the crosses of my life and dealing with them is a challenge. Praying — having a daily conversation with Christ — is a challenge. Blogging is a bit of a challenge for me… and trying to find time to blog is a challenge in itself these days.

If I didn’t worry about being a failure… I would start my own business. I don’t know what it would be though, so some thought would have to be put in that…. I would also put videos on Youtube because I really admire Youtubers (Shaycarl, CTFxC, Datev Gallagher, HeyKayli) and how they inspire many people. But a realistic thing would be to put a photograph on my blog and show it to people I actually know “in real life.” That is a huge challenge to me. But until I get the courage for that…. it’s anonymous blogging all the way.

Profile No. 17: Morgan McFarlin

Profiles in the Gap

Morgan McFarlin

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Morgan McFarlin is a Pro-life Missionary on college campuses in Illinois. She blogs at Follow and Believe

Did you expect this time of singleness?

No, I did not. Not at all. I fully expected to be either engaged or nearing engagement by the time I graduated from college. Some of this expectation came from how my parents’ love story had played out, but never did I imagine that I would be nearly two years post-undergrad and single.

I struggled all through college watching my friends meet their future spouses. It was something that I so inherently desired, and to be one of only two single folks in my friend group caused me to think there was something wrong with me. Essentially, I began to base my worth on my relationship status. I spent years searching, hoping, and waiting for my life to begin. All because I was “alone.” Sometimes I want to go back in time and slap my former self across the face. If only I’d attempted to live in the “now” rather than for the future…

Only recently have I fully come to truly enjoy and embrace my life…yes, my single life. But even more than that, I’ve stopped allowing my relationship status to define who I am. My life is good, just as it is. And actually, I’m perfectly content being single. I’m really loving my independence, and since I travel a lot for work, it’s nice to be able to pick up and leave whenever. Plus, this period has been really great for investing in my non-romantic relationships. Making friends post-college can be tough, but that’s pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me to grow as a person. Of course, if Mr. Wonderful walked into my life today, I’d be overjoyed…but clearly, if we aren’t together right now, it’s because God has other plans.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career?

Growing up as a baby-loving Irish-Catholic, I never gave much thought to the idea of developing a “career.” Sure, I always had ambitions and dreams, but above all, I desired to be a wife and mother.

So, imagine my surprise when I realize that this “stepping stone” job I got straight out of college happens to be what I now believe to be my calling. I love my work! I’m currently based on an Illinois college campus, working to build up pro-life leaders. How awesome is that? Every. day. I have the opportunity to make a difference. I’m actually living the unconventional ministry lifestyle that I longed for in my early collegiate years! Who would’ve thought that those dreams would have been fulfilled?

As content as I am now, when I first acknowledged the love I had for my work, I was a little freaked out. After all, I’d only ever planned on working temporarily before having babies and being a stay-at-home mom. This threw a bit of a wrench in my plans! But that’s the thing about our plans: God loves to mess ’em up and redirect us toward His original plan.

How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult?

My everyday life requires me to continuously trust that the Lord will provide (support raising, anyone?), and my love life, or lack thereof, is no exception. Trust is ultimately what it all comes down to. Worry and fear comes from a lack of trust in Our Lord and His goodness. After all, if I totally and completely trust that God won’t forget about me, why would I need to worry or fear for the future?

But I can only be at peace with where I’m at in life by choosing this peace daily. It is a daily challenge to choose peace over fear; to choose peace over worry; to choose peace over frustration and bitterness. In the same way that I choose to be at peace with my “singlehood,” I have to make the daily choice to trust God and His faithfulness. I have to choose every single day to allow Him to guide me instead of my feelings. Every day is a struggle to step into the unknown and see where He takes me.

Since you have this time, what are some challenges you give yourself?

More than anything, I’m just trying to take this time to continue becoming the best version of myself. I still have a long way to go, and some days I hope that Mr. Wonderful takes a bit more time to find me so I have longer to prepare. Many singles, myself included, tend to think, “I’ll finally be complete when I’m with my future spouse.” But really, God should be the only one who completes me. And in the end, shouldn’t He always be my main man? 🙂

Anonymous guest post on living in the gap

This post was sent in response to our profiles request, but the writer has asked to remain anonymous. Some great thoughts on how we’re not alone during this time of singleness — and we can (and should) be using it to grow in selflessness. –Mabel

 

But you are not alone in this / and you are not alone in this / as brothers we will stand and we’ll hold your hand / Hold your hand  – “Timshel” by Mumford and Sons

My life as a single person comes with many struggles, but I am not alone. Emmanuel, God with us!

I don’t know if I expected this time of singleness, but I do know that I am grateful for this time. This time of singleness has really allowed me to grow in my relationships with others, and ultimately with God. 

In high school and college, friendships were easier to cultivate. I loved others very similar to myself. It helped that we lived close to each other and communication did not require a lot of thought. During those years, I was single and so were a majority of my friends. I am still close with many of my high school and college friends, but we are removed enough from college that not all of our life experiences are as common. And, that is a good thing. I have needed this time to grow more deeply with those who hold my hand from afar.  

The place I chose to live after college is neither close to home or college, but I have been blessed with new friendships. These friends have been very instrumental in my transition into adulthood. 

Married, single, old, and new friends alike have given me time, faith, beautiful conversation, and forgiveness. All of which have made me keenly aware of the selfishness that I so easily fall victim to living a single life. That selfishness is isolating, but they keep me close in the midst of all of their struggles and mine. These friendships have contributed largely to my fulfillment because they are all gifts from God, and have brought me closer to Him. 

 

Profile No. 16: Jaclyn Weber

Profiles in the Gap

Jaclyn Weber

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Jaclyn Weber lives and works in Northern Virginia

With two siblings married with several children, one headed to grad school, and the youngest dating, I am the big sister that everyone wants to match up with someone. Every time I see any of my many relatives they give me their condolences that I am still single, wanting to know if my Mr. Right is out there somewhere. There are many times when I can see how one would react by living on the couch with Ben & Jerry’s Greek Raspberry Fudge Frozen Yogurt for a week watching “He’s Just Not That Into You” because of the sting of those comments.

They mean well, but they sure know how to say the wrong thing! Anyway, I am very at peace with being single, which is a true gift from the Lord, and while I did not expected to still be single it is what I need. When I was a teen I totally thought I would be married and have my first child by that time I was twenty-five. In the years following graduation I have had some real ups and downs because of jobs and friends. I have grown so much as a person because of them, and now as I am getting close to 30 I see that I was not even close to ready to start the vocation of marriage right after college. I am called to become the best version of myself, and that means I currently need to become a good daughter, sister, roommate, friend, employee, and person in general that you may meet at the store.

Am I there yet? No, but it is impossible to be perfect like God, and all I need to do is struggle towards Jesus Christ with every action every day, and I will be on the right path. Having so many wonderful, faithful Catholic friends really helps me, as we can challenge each other and they are a great example to me to keep striving onward. I am blessed to work in a place where we start the day with prayer and meditation, so I do not even have to work hard to pray daily.

During these single years I am enjoying my freedom, working on my bad habits and trying to cultivate good ones, picking up new hobbies (hiking is my most recent one), and working on good communication in my relationships with family and friends. This time is a gift and should be treasured!

Profile No. 15: Kara Eschbach and Janet Sahm

Profiles in the Gap

Kara Eschbach and Janet Sahm

JanetSahm_KaraEschbach_Verily

I had the privilege of chatting earlier this month with Kara Eschbach and Janet Sahm, the founders of Verily magazine, who kindly agreed to be included in the December profiles on Life in the Gap. In particular, I asked them about what motivated them to go after the things they were passionate about — to take the risk and launch their own business — and how we can view this time of singleness as an opportunity, not a burden. (-Mabel)

What was the catalyst for launching Verily? Did being single affect your decision to go for it?

Kara: I was in a lucrative, comfortable job in finance, and while I was happy there, I wasn’t exactly passionate about it. I actually moved to New York City to take that job, which was definitely exciting. But I wanted something more meaningful. So when this idea for a startup came up, it just sort of made sense. I quit my job in finance and switched to magazine. I’d been doing a lot of writing in my previous job, and the financial background really prepared me to run a business.

And yes, I think being single did play a role. I realized it was one of those “windows” in life – the right time to do something like this, when I had no other things tying me down. I had no kids or family commitments, no mortgage…nothing saying I couldn’t take a pay cut and work really hard to make this a success. But there are windows like this throughout life – like older adults whose kids have all moved out, life is just full of times when it’s possible to make a decision like this. So why not go for it?

Janet: I was working a good job as an assistant in New York. I mean, it paid the rent! As a new graduate I was privileged to gain some experience in the fashion industry at Elle, and I quickly saw that to become a fashion editor in that kind of publication, I’d have to devote myself to 10 years of slave-driving work. I wanted a well-rounded life, not to become the typical obsessed career woman. Still, fashion is  my love.

Even while working my assistant job, I was thinking and praying about starting my own magazine. I wanted to start a publication that had more meaning, and let me be myself. My 9 – 5 job actually gave me a lot of freedom, too … outside working hours I could write and focus on honing my talents. It really gave me the freedom to be creative.

You two launched Verily together – and it’s been a big success! Does having friends on the journey with you make it easier?

Both: Yes! We were casual friends when we first started throwing around the idea of launching a magazine, but after working together on this project for the past couple years, we’ve definitely grown closer. We’ve definitely found that friends, especially for those of us who are single, become surrogate family. They’re the people you have meals with and celebrate holidays with when you can’t make it home to see your family. A community of friends is so important to living a happy, fulfilling life. Granted, that community is always changing as people get married and move on to other opportunities, but that’s part of the beauty of it, too.

What advice would you give to other young adults in the gap who are struggling with what to do next?

Kara: It’s typical to sit around in “the gap” just waiting, instead of figuring out what it is we really want to do. So often we’re waiting for things to be obvious, or for the perfect scenario, or we feel like we have to have a plan. I took a job in New York, not because I’d always wanted to go there, but because when it came up I thought it might be interesting, and a good platform for other things. Only once I got here did I discover other things I was really interested in, that got me to this point.

My advice for anyone in the gap? Walk through open doors. Even if they don’t look like what you thought you wanted…you never know where they might take you. Expand your network, meet people, and see what comes of it.

What if discovering and pursuing my passion just isn’t an option right now?

Janet: Even if you find your job monotonous and you don’t love it, there are endless possibilities for living a meaningful and fruitful life. Get involved. Start a discussion group to talk about controversial issues. Get involved in your church. Volunteer – and do it regularly. Use this time of freedom to become a more integrated person. Join dance class, a sports team, or a language class. Get friends together regularly to teach each other skills you already have, like photography or cooking.

Push yourself. There’s so much to read, to learn, to give. The more you can go outside yourself, the better. You learn to give of yourself and to love.

So often we take our identity from who we were in high school or college. We forget that we’re still growing, that we’re always growing and changing. Don’t throw away chances to grow and develop your character and yourself.

Kara: Don’t discount your current job just because it isn’t your dream. You’d be amazed at what you’re learning and developing that you don’t even realize. And much of it will come in useful down the road. My finance background prepared me to run a business. Janet’s background gave her lots of professional development, which she is able to use now, along with her creative talents. So many skills are transferable – so don’t write anything off as a waste of time!

Profile No. 14: Ashton Mallon

Profiles in the Gap
Ashton Mallon
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Ashton Mallon is a campus minister living and working in Northern Virginia. You can read some of her other great writing here.
Did you expect this time of singleness? 
I think I have known in my heart from a young age that the Lord would give me as much time as I needed to prepare me for whatever Vocation He has in store for me. At the same time, I also know that at times I can get impatient with every passing year. I have always understood, in my heart, that I am not perfect yet, so I expected to have years of being single that can prepare me for my vocation and spouse. I grew up not dating often, and only dating intentionally, so it comes naturally in a sense for me to embrace singleness.
If so, is it what you expected it to be? If not, what did you expect, and has the change been exciting or disappointing?
I am very appreciative because very rarely do I get frustrated with being single; it must be some extra grace! Rather, I have always seen it as a time to grow into the person that God desires me to be, the one whom He desires me to be to my future spouse. I honestly am not one to make too many expectations, because the Lord always seems to surprise us in life.
If I were to look back, though, and then look to now, I do think that being single is what I thought it would be. It consists mostly of dating when I feel called to, continuing to discern my vocation, and most importantly staying plugged into prayer and the community, particularly through friendships. This is what I mostly imagined it to be, though to be honest, I wish that I was able to have more time to meet new people. I work in ministry, which I absolutely love, but it does mean odd hours in my schedule and often means that other (most!) things come after my students. In an ideal world, I would appreciate more time to spend meeting other women, dating, and or visiting religious orders to discern better. But, I wouldn’t want it any other way–the Lord is working beautifully!
Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career? If so, can you elaborate? If not, where do you seek / find it? 
I work in college ministry and I absolutely love my career! To be honest, I sometimes forget that it is a “career” because I go to work every day to, what feels like, just hang out with friends. Much of my job is spent personally growing so that I can continue to be an example to my students of what it means to seek after Christ and allow Him to fulfill you…. it’s intimidating! My only goal is to inspire them to desire and pursue Christ, hopefully first by my own example. The conversations I have about their questions inspire my own faith; the Bible studies I have led enrich my own relationship with Christ; the situations I help them work through remind me of what I need to be doing in my own life, how much more I need to depend on Christ, and how much more I have to grow. It’s beautiful!
How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult? 
Faith plays a monumental role in my actions and outlook! I honestly could not name much else that does. All that I do, all that I think, and all that I am is because of and influenced by my relationship with Christ. When I am struggling with loneliness as a single young adult, I turn to Christ. When I am trying to discern a relationship more seriously, I pray even more. Particularly as a single young adult, I feel that I have even more need to depend on my faith because it is a difficult time of decisions; jobs, housing, relationships, morals–it all has to flow from my prayer life, community, and beliefs.
For me in particularly, working in ministry allows me to see my faith as a crucial aspect to my single life, because I am able to be almost radically available to share my faith with my students, something that I know I will be unable to do when I am in my vocation. Faith motivates my choices, since sometimes there is no one else there to help you (I am not married or part of a community, so it’s often me and God). Faith and my relationship with Christ motivate my discernment of my career, my charity towards and relationships with my housemates, fulfills my loneliness, and strengthens my pursuit for a spouse, amidst so much else.
 
Since you have this time, what are some challenges you give yourself? If you didn’t have to worry about failure, what would you do with this time that you might be putting off out of fear?
Some challenges that I give myself during the time of being single are not allowing myself to get too discouraged. It can sometimes take more prayer than I would like, but when I really think about how much God loves me (as corny as it sounds!) I am reminded that this loneliness is only a reason for me to draw even closer to Him; to perfect myself through His love and grace, and to let HIM lead the way.
Another challenge I give (though I need to be better about following through…) is to make time to hang out with people. It’s difficult, but it’s important. Particularly as a single woman, I think I need to be better about going out and meeting people, cultivating those friendships, and possibly even meeting people of the opposite sex … what a concept!
If I didn’t have to worry about failure, I would also go to more young adult things to meet new friends… I just get so shy! I would also like to speak in public more often. I love speaking about femininity and chastity, two great passions of mine. I come alive when I give talks on retreats, and I feel so encouraged in my own faith journey when I do. I also think that when I share about my prayer, my relationship with Christ, or about things that I have come to believe and love, I just see myself so strengthened in those areas and I love trying to inspire that in others. Ultimately, I would just put myself out there more–ask more people to hang out, etc!

Profile No. 13: Joan Nagel

Profiles in the Gap

Joan Nagel

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Joan Nagel is a Registered Dietitian and grad student living in North Dakota. She blogs at Everything is Yours. Follow her on Twitter at @rdgal37.

Did you expect this time of singleness?

Yes and no. Now I realize that a question technically shouldn’t be answered with both yes and no, so I’m going to do my best to explain myself…

I say yes because I’ve dated quite a bit over the past few years and have yet to find “the one” who is “my one.” I’ve sometimes wondered if “the list” of qualities I’ve concocted for my future husband might be impossible to find in one person. But when I listen to the advice of strong, married, Catholic women who stress and stress and stress, “Never settle,” and “Never lower your standards,” I am so thankful that I’m not married yet because I truly haven’t met someone that embodies everything that I’m looking for.

But are there days when I think, “Gosh, will I ever get married?” Definitely! I just have to keep reminding myself that God’s plan is always better than my own, so when he thinks that both me and  ”my one” are ready, it will happen!

So on the flip side, I say no because I have always and probably will always be a very “planny” (please excuse my feeble attempt at trying to add a word to the English language) person. I love making lists (task lists, grocery lists, lists of lists), so when my mental plan of “go to college, graduate college, get married, and have kids” didn’t happen in that order, the “planny” part of me went a little crazy.

Thankfully, I’ve finally learned that it’s okay to keep “get married” on my to-do list, but I’ve realized that this can only happen if and when God decides to check it off of his list, too.  

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career? If so, can you elaborate?

Absolutely! In September 2011, I got my first “big girl” job working as a dietitian at a hospital in my hometown. It was such an amazing learning experience, as I was exposed to so many aspects of clinical dietetics, but it really drained me emotionally. Since I’ve always loved school and learning — I was that little girl who maxed out her library card during the summer months — I started praying about whether or not I should consider going back to school for my M.S. in Dietetics in hopes of landing a job better suited to my personality.

After feeling a great deal of peace about pursuing grad school, I started exploring my options and eventually found myself enrolled in an online program which allowed me to take courses from 9 different universities. The online option appealed to me because I wanted at least one year’s experience in the hospital setting before looking elsewhere. 

I started to pray feverishly for a new job once I hit that monumental one-year mark, and my prayers were answered after being offered a position from the diabetes clinic where I had interned as an undergrad. Although the position was full-time, it was also just a maternity fill, but I felt confident that another opportunity would present itself after if it was meant to be. Thankfully, I was right, and several dietitian opportunities have fallen into my lap since moving!

Currently, I am back at that same diabetes clinic working a few days a week, facilitating a diabetes prevention class, teaching two college-level dietetics courses, and taking a full load of grad courses with plans of graduating in May. I absolutely love helping patients reach their diabetes and weight loss goals in the clinic setting, but I’ve discovered that I also really enjoy teaching! I’m hoping to take and pass my Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) exam this coming June, so it will be exciting to see if any new opportunities come my way once I have M.S. and CDE after my name!  

How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult?

One of my favorite things to hear is, “Joan, you’re always so happy!” Now I’m not going to lie, I definitely have those days when I’m not feeling like this ball of sunshine, but for the most part, I always try to greet people with a smile or simple hello, even if I’m feeling stressed or crabby.

Why? Because a smile can brighten a person’s day. A hello can let others know that someone in the world cares about them. I absolutely believe that a simple act of kindness can go a long way, so that is one example of how I try to allow my faith to influence my daily activities.

As far as my outlook on life as a single young adult goes, it breaks my heart to think of how many young adults are living their lives. I believe that the main reason why many young adults are filling their lives with alcohol, parties, addictions, and promiscuity is because they are trying to fill the gap in their hearts that only God can fill. I know how it feels to have that gap. And I know how it feels trying to fill that gap with things that aren’t from God. It doesn’t work. I know that God can fill that gap. And I know that it can take time to fill that gap, but it can be done through prayer, attending Reconciliation, and more prayer! 

And so it is my hope, that my “cheery disposition” may be contagious or heck, even obnoxious enough to at the very least get someone thinking, “I wonder why Joan always seems so happy?”

Since you have this time, what are some challenges you give yourself? If you didn’t have to worry about failure, what would you do with this time that you might be putting off out of fear?

During the last few years, I’ve developed a love for running, so I have been trying to run at least a few races each summer. This past summer I ran a half marathon and a 15 K, and I’m toying with the idea of signing up for my first full marathon next summer. Go big or go home, right?!

Another challenge I’ve given myself is in trying to spread the Catholic faith via my blog. I started the blog ~1 year ago coining myself an “online missionary,” and this blog has honestly been such a blessing in my life. Blogging has become my new favorite verb, and it’s safe to assume that I can be found sitting at my kitchen table, overhead lights off and candles lit, most nights of the work week (okay, sometimes on the weekends too!) as I blog to my heart’s content.

I’ve really enjoyed connecting with other Catholics and non-Catholics in the blogosphere and have felt my love for the Catholic faith grow leaps and bounds with each post I’ve written. I recently started a series on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit and am hoping to feature more series in the future as well as to host more guest posts to include a variety of perspectives from both girls and guys!

What would I do if I didn’t have to worry about failure? Gosh, good question! Well if money wasn’t an issue, I would quit school, quit my jobs and fly to Rome in hopes of attending a Pope Francis-led Mass. And then after I’d toured every church and museum and tasted the finest coffee and gelato, I’d travel to India to work with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity! A girl’s gotta dream, right?