The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years
By Emily Stimpson
Book Review by Eileen love
A few years ago, recording artist Beyoncé made a big splash with “All the Single Ladies.”
The track tells the story. A girl nurses a broken heart by going to a club where
she meets a new man who’s into her. In her mind the old boyfriend is lurking jealously in the background and she scolds him for trifling with her, wasting her time, not appreciating what he had. Then comes the kicky refrain:
If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it.
Sassy lyrics and a bouncy tune made the song a hit – but the story stings. It acknowledges that the single life can be a minefield of exploding drama, duck and cover maneuvers, missed opportunities, and always, shattered dreams. There isn’t a woman who can’t relate.
But while Beyoncé is entitled to her artistic take on relationship woes, her version is only one view, and a little warped at that.
There is another way to live your single years and in The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years, Catholic author Emily Stimpson spells it out. It involves class, grace, style, and yes, virtue. It envisions not so much a life lived in the throes of romantic despair but a more balanced life that welcomes a potential mate but doesn’t collapse if he is absent.
At 35 years old with a background in theology and political science, Stimpson is certainly well-rounded. And well-connected. Her book mentions lots of Catholic favorites: saints and authors, popes and poets, and there is even a feature called “Hip Single Sisters in History” where readers will meet the likes of Florence Nightingale and Flannery O’Connor.
In fact, this book is a little like a backyard barbeque to which all your best friends have been invited. Everyone is hanging out, laughing, trading ideas, and offering wisdom and encouragement, all in the most positive setting. Best of all, these people really get you – a modern day intelligent and involved woman who happens to be single.
Listen to Stimpson recalling the words of Dr. Janet Smith speaking to singles at the 2010 Theology of the Body Conference in Philadelphia:
If all we wanted was marriage – any marriage to anyone – most of us would be married by now. If we were willing to widen the pool by forgetting about our faith, abandoning our morals, and lowering our standards, the majority of us could scare up some kind of spouse. But that’s not what we want. We don’t want a spouse. We want the right spouse, a spouse who loves Christ, desires our ultimate good, and is capable of entering into a healthy, holy Catholic marriage.
Emily Stimpson assumes your dream is to have a Catholic marriage and she’ll remind you that finding a true soul mate means first being the woman God calls you to be.
There is some exploration of “feminine genius”, along with ways to expand your intellectual horizons by reading good books; she has a whole section of recommended reads – all good. Stimspon shares some gems from Theology of the Body and has tips on dealing with married friends – and their kids – as well as helpful career advice and wardrobe tips (yes, style can happily co-exist with modesty).
This book is easy to read and a lot of fun. It is packed with sage advice, not the kind an eccentric relative gives you in front of everyone at the dinner table, but the kind you’ll actually welcome. Read great books, take long baths, nurture your friendships, travel foot loose and fancy free.
And, if you take this advice to heart, you’ll likely craft a life that is a thing of beauty and a gift to all who know you. Who knows, you might even find your married friends envying you.