Last year a woman named Desiree Longabaugh changed her name to Beautiful Existence, flew to Paris and “exchanged” vows with herself in a “ceremony”’ officiated via Skype by someone in the US. She had “lost her spark” in her previous marriage and was determined not to have that happen again and so, in an effort to “love herself”, she flew halfway across the world to self-marry. Three times the article quotes her as eschewing what she says is the prevailing logic that success, in our day and age, requires you to be coupled, to be in a relationship. Yet at the same time, Ms. Longabaugh is quoted as saying that if you can love yourself, you can come into a relationship as a better person. So if I’ve got that right – marry yourself so that you can love yourself because who needs a man anyways (but if a man does come along, then you’ll be ready)?
Sad, isn’t it? Sad and sort of pitiful, even though I’m sure that’s the last thing you’re thinking when you look at this smiling, mohawked woman in front of the Eiffel Tower. But apparently self-marriage has become “a thing”, even though (for the moment) it’s illegal in the United States. Onewoman proposed to herself in some romantic location, kissed herself in a mirror, and actually experienced pre-wedding jitters. (What?) Another self-married because she didn’t find someone to marry by the time she was 40 and wanted to have a big party. According to the almightyWiki, self-marriage is done mostly by women and, from the accounts that I read, almost always after a bad relationship/breakup. Many of these women felt the same way as Ms. Longabaugh did – that Frank Sinatra had it right – you’re nobody till somebody loves you, leaving single people to often feel incomplete. Marrying themselves, according to these women, was a way to get back on their feet after feeling desperate, worthless and fed up with being single.
Well I hate to burst your bubble there but honey, you still single. Doesn’t matter how many ceremonies you plan or parties you throw, you are still going to be exactly what you are, and the thing is, that’s not bad!!! It’s very good, in fact.
These women all seem to be operating on a popular, but very false assumption. We are not nobodies until we’re coupled up! A relationship with a man cannot all of a sudden give our lives meaning and worth – because our lives already have meaning and worth just by virtue of the fact that we are human beings created by God. We are all somebody, just as we are, each of us unique and utterly unrepeatable in the history (and the future) of the world. But more importantly, we were each made in the image and likeness of the Living God, who loves us more than we could ever imagine, longs to be in an intense, personal relationship with us and waits for us day and night to recognize that longing and reciprocate his love. These two facts make each human being extraordinarily valuable, right through from the very beginning to the very end of life.
St. John Paul II, in his Theology of the Body, talks about just this. He states that each of us, within ourselves, is always alone (a state of being he refers to as Original Solitude) and that we are always in relationship with God (something he calls Original Unity) and in fact it is our aloneness that leads to our relationship with God. In his general audience of October 24th, 1979 he said:
“Man’s aloneness, his original solitude means that ‘he, through his own humanity, through what he is, is constituted at the same time in a unique, exclusive and unrepeatable relationship with God Himself.’”
In other words, we are all single – we all experience original solitude because we are the only “ones” inhabiting our own bodies. Yet at the same time we are never alone because we are all in that relationship of original unity with God, who is always with us and within us, who is always listening and even speaks to us, if we’re interested in hearing. So if the God who created all things condescends to create us unlike no other, and create us alone within our bodies specifically so that we can be in relationship with Him, then the intrinsic dignity that He bestows cannot ever be lessened or heightened by ourselves or any other human being. We simply are what we are. And I think that is pretty darn fantastic.
Seems to me that Beautiful Existence had the right idea, but the wrong execution. It is true we do not receive our worth, for good or bad, from others, and I’m glad that she has found some kind of peace in her life. But it will probably be short-lived, because we also do not receive our worth from ourselves either. Our worth and value come only in and through the Lord. We are all Beautiful Existences because He has made us so and when we understand that and know that we are loved right down to our very bone marrow no matter what, we don’t need to do something as ridiculous and narcissistic as self-marry. We can go about our days confidently being exactly what we are, exactly what God has made us to be in this moment, regardless of whether we are single, married, religious, whatever. Because we are all loved, all the time, more than we can imagine, and that makes each one of us incredibly special. Take that Sinatra.
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