Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Waiting With Mary through Advent and Dating: Guest Post from Brooke

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Brooke and I bonded this summer over hearts for ministry and Catholic wedding planning (she dreams of having her own planning business one day!) and the fact that we were wearing the same sandals when we met for coffee.  She's been dating her love, Timothy, since high school, and we've talked about the difficulty of waiting for engagement and marriage when your season in life, namely college, just doesn't make getting engaged the most practical idea for a while.  My story is pretty different; when Andrew proposed, we'd been friends for about a year and a half and boyfriend and girlfriend for only eight months.  So, having come from a different side of dating, I always enjoy and admire stories of couples who have known each other for years before falling in love and who are faced with a significant time of waiting before being able to start their married life together.  Brooke blogs at Something to Behold, where she shares her life as a college senior, her spiritual journey, and her majorly enviable style.  I promise you'll love her site, and her wisdom that follows here:

Advent is all about waiting. But more than that, it is about waiting well. Its funny; I was incredibly resistant to all things Advent this year, and I am just now figuring out why. This Advent was one of my worst as far as my spiritual life goes. My prayer life had no significant changes or increases; I  read zero reflections on the birth of Christ, did zero devotions, and barely even listened to Christmas music. More than just being resistant to getting more seriously into this Advent season, I was resistant to even wanting to try. 

This is new for me.  Usually when I’m at a low point in my spiritual life, I at least want to want it. But almost all of Advent, I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t even want to want Advent. And I think it is precisely because Advent is all about “waiting.” And I am tired of waiting.

Timothy and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary in October. We started dating when we were 16, and by 18, we knew  God was calling us to the vocation of marriage. We’re both 21 now, and on some level it feels like we’ve been waiting since we were 18 for our lives to truly begin. 

Don’t get me wrong. God has been so so good to us over these past four years we’ve been in college and has blessed us with joys and challenges that have helped us grow in so many ways. Still, there is something really hard in knowing what you're called to and then being asked to wait at least 4 years for that to be a reality. And if I’m being really honest with myself, I have not been my best self with waiting for God’s plan to unfold this past semester. I have not been asking God to continue to reveal to me the value in waiting, or to use this time of my life for His greater glory, or to help further prepare Timothy and I’s relationship for the vocation I’m so impatient for. Instead, most of the time I’ve been complaining and begging God to let the waiting be over.

So when Advent came this year and the Church asked me to reflect on what it means to wait, I said “um, no thank you.” It wasn’t until the phrase “We wait with Mary” crept into my mind, in a way I was somehow forced to listen to, that this resistance that I had towards Advent and waiting finally broke down, which occurred two days before Christmas. This phrase reminded me of an Imagination Prayer I once did from a book titled “Quiet Places with Mary.” This particular prayer asked me to imagine what the time between Mary’s Annunciation and Joseph’s Dream must have been like for her. 

Mary had no idea what Joseph’s response would be, what her life would look like, or exactly how God’s plan would unfold. She simply had to wait. And as I sat in this prayer, all I could imagine is that it must have been the presence of Christ in her womb that gave her the strength to wait and to trust in the will of God. At the end of my prayer, I felt Mary pointing me towards the Eucharist. I remember thinking, “If the presence of Christ in the womb of Mary sustained her in her time of waiting, then the presence of Christ in the Eucharist can sustain me.”

Remembering this prayer was exactly what I needed to not completely waste my Advent season. Instead, on the last two days of Advent and now for the rest of this Christmas season, I am remembering the inseparable connection between celebrating the birth of Christ and the Eucharist. Mary, who adored the Body of Christ in her womb, adores Him at every Mass in the Eucharist. She continues to guide us into adoration of her son, not just before the manger scene, but also before every Tabernacle. It is Mary I will continue to turn to as I struggle with this time of my life that feels so characterized by waiting.  By her example, hopefully I can learn what it truly means to “wait well.”

Thanks so much, Brooke!  Any other longtime daters out there?  I'd love to hear your stories and insights into developing a patient heart during times of waiting.

 

2 comments:

  1. I love how Mary teaches us to wait well! This is a powerful reflection. May Mother Mary continue to help you and may you continue to grow closer to Jesus as you wait for the vocation of marriage! Thank you for sharing.

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  2. We were long time daters! 5 years and change before we got married and most of that long distance. It was hard to be content with our situation, especially when you watch your friends meet and date all around you. But I think it gave us a different appreciation for marriage.

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