Faith · life · Published

This Year I said “No, Thank You” to Advent: Impatience & Learning how to Wait Well with Mary

In late October Stephanie, from Captive the Heart: A Sprightly Wedding Blog for the Catholic Bride, asked me to guest write a new post for her. She suggested the possible topic of what it is like to know whom I am called to marry but have to date without engagement/marriage for a long period of time due to being in college and other life circumstances. I initially told Stephanie I could write the post over Thanksgiving break, but when late November came all of my end-of-the-semester term papers hit me hard. But I’m glad that I wasn’t able to write this post then, because back then I didn’t have any inspiration for a post of this kind, mostly because I had been trying to push my anticipation about getting engaged/married aside in my head so that I could focus on other and more pressing things. Thinking about it now, as Advent has just ended, I have perspective I didn’t before.

{ See this post on Captive the Heart 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 worsts 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 knew that 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 to grow in so many ways. Still, though, there is something really hard in knowing what your 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 that I will continue to turn to as I struggle with this time of my life that feels so characterized by waiting, and by her example, hopefully I can learn what it truly means to “wait well.”

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