A few months ago, I met a friend out for the tail end of the bridal shower for his fiancé. A bunch of us all headed over to a local restaurant for a little gathering afterwards.
Seated at one big table were a couple who were dating, the engaged couple to be married, and the married parents of the bride to be. Across from me was … an empty chair. So the conversation’s going along, and there’s the couple dynamic and then there’s me the seventh wheel, and I look over at the empty seat and I start to wonder, what am I doing? What happened to me?
Then a thought dawned on me, and I remembered. I remembered why I left so many things, why I left behind marriage. I remembered the first day I went to St. Clement’s Shrine in Boston. I remembered the retreat I went on when He showed me how He would give me so much in return, and I said, “I’m holding You to that!” because I knew I was leaving a lot, a real lot. And I knew, while sitting there, that I was the only one with an empty chair across from me, because He chose me, and He wanted to give me something very special, and it was staring at me right next to that empty chair, that very moment:
Six full ones.
You know, if I were married, I would never have been there at that restaurant that day. I would never have lived with those guys at the table, with my friends with their fiance and girlfriend. We wouldn’t have spent so much time together growing in the Church together, so many conversations and apostolates and prayer groups and events. I never would have met the parents, and I wouldn’t be part of the wedding.
If the Lord asks us to leave someone or something in our life, there will be an empty chair, it will never go away. But for every empty chair, He will make up for it. He only asks us to leave that someone or something behind because we have to let go in order to receive the special gift He wants to give. Remember that for every empty chair, there’ll be something in return.
Remember the six full ones.
Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for may sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mk 10:29-30)