How is a Relationship Like a Garage Sale?

…from a distance it looks like it could be interesting, but up close, it’s just a ton of crap you don’t need.

These are the words from something I found on Pinterest, minus the profanity (though you have to admit, it’s the right choice of word). I laughed, of course, at first because I can totally relate to the garage sale concept of spending a lot of time rummaging through stuff in hopes of finding something interesting, but typically ending up wasting time over stuff you really don’t need.

What makes us laugh even more is the feeling behind this sentiment when it comes to dating. Who can’t relate to having the feeling of “I don’t need this in my life” or “Why should I put up with this crap?”

Funny thing about garage sales, though. Every once in awhile, you come across a real treasure among that rubble. Something the owner decided was of no value to them, but you’ve been searching for a long time. And the more garage sales you go to, the more likely your chances of finding something very valuable.

We all want a good deal. We all want to discover something really special that no one else has. Many will tell you that finding a good deal and discovering something no one else has means making the effort and exhausting all possibilities to make it happen.

Many feel this way about finding love and getting married; that it takes getting out there to a lot of garage sales and exhausting all your opportunities if it’s going to happen at all.

I completely agree that men and women must make the effort to get out there. But finding a good deal and discovering love is so much more about God’s hand than it is our effort. I’ve said before: love is a mystery. It cannot be determined by us.

Because God is love, finding someone special and falling in love is, in a very mysterious and intangible way, about two people moved by God Himself toward each other, sometimes without even realizing it or understanding why.

We are not items at a garage sale that we notice and say “Ah ha! You are the love of my life. I’ve been looking for you at every garage sale imaginable, and now you’re mine.” It doesn’t work that way.

For many couples, love happens, rather than it is found after searching. When we are hunting for love, very rarely do we find what we’re looking for. The treasures people discover at garage sales are the product of luck, not determination. God allowed them to find it for some unknown reason. Why they found it, rather than someone else, cannot be answered. It certainly cannot be attributed to determination or the will to find it.

It’s like lottery tickets. Some people are so desperate to win that they spend hundreds of dollars on tickets because they believe it increases their chances. Then they find out someone who bought just one ticket for the heck of it wins the lottery, and they’re thrown into angry disbelief.

The expression “lucky in love” is kind of good. Luck is where our efforts meet God’s generosity. You don’t get what God wants to give unless you make some effort. But effort, in this sense, is not determination to achieve. It’s simply a normal pursuit of living life to the fullest as the person we are created to be. God has a way of providing for our every need. That includes getting lucky in love.

Love happens as we live life normally and without trying to force relationships or putting the pressure on ourselves and others to get married. Love happens when we least expect it because we are busy living a healthy, happy, productive life.

Yes, we need to get into environments that make sense to meet quality single men and women so God is able to influence the people who enter into our life. We cannot just sit at home doing nothing, nor can we be loners and anti-social. We have to increase our social skills, if needed, and persevere in motivation and effort to be social.

We cannot decide how God is to work in bring love into our lives. We must be open to however God wants it to happen, and be observant about the people who come along in our everyday life. You just never know when that person will come along.

Whatever your approach, you’re not going to avoid dealing with things you’re rather not deal with. Love between two persons joyfully and willingly deals with the rough spots that can easily be interpreted as crap you don’t need. You might not need it, but the person you love needs you to work with him or her through it, just as you need that person to work with you.

Anthony Buono is the author of Would You Date You? and founder of Avemariasingles.com. For thousands of Catholic singles, Anthony offers guidance, humor, understanding, and practical relationship advice.  Visit his blog at 6stonejars.com