There Is No Bob!

My 4-year-old old niece, who is without a doubt the most hilarious child I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, spent the night at my house last week. In the morning, she pointed out to me that half of my bed was made, but the other half wasn’t. Never one to miss a teachable moment, I told her that I sleep alone, because I’m not married, which led to the following conversation:

Her: When are you going to get married, anyway?

Me: I don’t know. I guess when I find someone I want to marry. Who do you think I should marry?

Her: Bob.

Me: Really? Who’s Bob?

Her: I was just kidding. There is no Bob.

The last line struck me as funny, because those of us who are single but still open to marriage frequently have moments when we realize, or at least suspect, that perhaps “there is no Bob.” Not in the sense that there are no good men or women in the world — we all know that isn’t true — but that the right combination of faith, character, and compatibility that would comprise our own “Bob” may not show up in our lifetime.

I do a lot of work with single Catholics and I find that most of our questions and struggles parallel the questions and struggles of the rest of the world. And so it is with the elusive “Bob.” I frequently hear single Catholics talk about how they believe that “God has someone for me.” They are unshakable in their confidence that God loves them (so far so good), and that hence He will give them what they want, which in this case is a spouse.

Of course, God doesn’t necessarily work that way. It’s not that He doesn’t love us — of course He does, far more than we could ever possibly imagine. But He’s also working within the confines of human nature and the free will He bestowed on us. When huge numbers of these people He created are behaving badly, that shrinks the pool of suitable “Bobs” from which to select a spouse for us. Of course, He could build one of us a custom “Bob” out of clay, like He did with Adam, but He doesn’t tend to work that way these days.

This doesn’t just apply to singles. Doesn’t everybody have a “Bob” — something we really want and that deep down we believe God would give to us if he really, really loved us? Maybe it’s a job, or a raise, or a development in a relationship, or an opportunity. It could be anything that, in some way, we’re “relying” on God to accomplish. Perhaps we’re subtly using it as a “gauge” of His love for us.

Which leads us to the central question: What if there is no Bob?

What if God doesn’t have that “one thing” in store for you? What if He has a different plan for your life, or at least that one aspect of it? What if, despite your fervent efforts and prayers, the story doesn’t end the way you want it to? Is He still God? Is He still the Lord of your life? Do you still love Him? Trust Him?

It’s questions — and situations — like this that test our faith and show us what it means to really trust in God. Trusting Him doesn’t mean “I trust that You will arrange things in such a way that everything turns out the way I want them to.” Really trusting God means, “I trust You to be there, and to take care of me, no matter how things turn out.” It means facing the “valley of darkness” — a future that we can’t see, but He can. And knowing that He will be at our side, no matter what that future holds. And that, with Him, good will come out of whatever we face.

God isn’t “the Guy Who protects us from any difficulty.” He’s “the Guy Who is at our side through every difficulty.” He writes straight with crooked lines. He takes difficult situations and, with our trust and cooperation, builds something beautiful out of them — something we often couldn’t possibly have imagined and which make our puny “Bobs” pale in comparison.

I know — you can’t imagine life without your Bob, whatever that is. And perhaps Bob will show up. But perhaps He won’t. And perhaps it’s true that life without Bob could be very, very difficult for a time. Of course, it also may be true that life with Bob could be a nightmare and that God is protecting us from that particular Bob that we think we want.

But either way, isn’t it more comforting to know that, no matter what happens, God is with you and He loves you and cares for you and He will never, ever abandon you?

That’s the reality and in the end it’s far better than any Bob I can imagine.

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  • Thank you, Mary Beth

  • drea916

    I think there is a healthy balance in this topic. I know a few catholics that sum up their situation to “God’s Will” when it is obvious to those around them that they aren’t doing their part. For example, a couple that hasn’t gotten pregnant figure that it’s God’s Will. However, they haven’t been to the doctor to see if there is something wrong (like the fact she needs to lose weight) and that is hindering things. Now, if they go to the Doc, eat right, etc and there is no baby, then that is God’s Will, permissive or perfect.

    Or a friend who just can’t seem to get a better job, but he is horrible at interviewing (talking about politics during the interview, etc.) He sums it up to God’s Will, when in reality he needs to learn how to interview better.

    As Catholics, I think we lean a little too heavy on “God’s Will” when we aren’t pulling our weight, or following his commandments in the first place.

  • lkeebler

    Yes, better to discover “there is no Bob” before you are married then to find out after. But that shouldn’t necessarily prevent us from marriage if it is God’s call for us and if we are in His Good Will – for as you say, we are not alone but Christ is always with us (and may I say, most people, men or women, would not go into marriage believing they are in harms way). Still we can be sure that no matter where we are now (and in the future), all things work together for Good for those who are God’s.

    Romans 8: 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

  • markymark

    Or perhaps “Bob” doesn’t meet your expectations. St. Brad Pitt does not exist…… and to quote the article “They are unshakable in their confidence that God loves them (so far so good), and that hence He will give them what they want” well, “they” should read Hebrews chapter 4 where it says that Jesus prayed to the “One who could deliver Him from death and he was heard because of his reverence”. We all know that Jesus died, he prayed hard, but he still died. We need to follow Jesus’ example and say “Not my will, but Thine be done”

  • chaco

    BINGO ! markymark; “Not my will but Thine be done”. To add to that; “for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit makes intercession for us…” (Rom 8.26). That’s not to say though, we should “STUFF” our feelings and dreams. Phillipians 4.6 instructs us to [in a spirit of thanksgiving] make our requests(dreams) known to God. Then, whether or not they come true, we are assurred of a peace that surpasses understanding. My own experience makes me think that God likes to “Tease” us a little to make the receiving His gifts that much sweeter.