I spent most of Advent reflecting on the meaning of that season- to wait in joyful hope. It occurred to me that the time we set aside before Christmas to await Christ's coming is a lot like the time that couples have during their engagement before their wedding day. Those months are their final chance to make themselves ready for one another before they enter into their vocation, just as Advent is a time for us to prepare for Jesus to come again.
Now another season is upon us. Ash Wednesday is just one week away! Isn't Lent also a time of preparation? I may not be engaged, or even in a relationship, but that doesn't mean I can't take this opportunity to prepare myself to be. In committing to tie myself closer to Christ in anticipation of His Passion and Resurrection, I can bring myself closer to His will for me, whatever it may be.
I spend a LOT of time wondering about God's will for my life. This means I spend a lot of time reading Jeremiah 29:11-13, which says,
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Plans for me to prosper and not to harm me. Plans for my future.
God has a plan for my life. Not only that, but seemingly a good plan.
Isn't that incredible? Not just for my life, either, but for yours and for your roommates and for your professors and your boss and your little sister and for the guy in line behind you in Starbucks.
God's got a plan for each and every one of us. And what He wants most is for you to involve Him in it. I mean He straight out says, "come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." God listens. He hears me when I whine about the uncertain future and boys and my struggles and my fears. Which coincidentally all have a lot to do with each other.
My vocation is to marriage. I know this, I have faith in it, and I feel utterly called to it.
I've also never had a boyfriend or even something like one. I'm 20 years old.
For a long time, my heart ached over this. I didn't understand why no guys ever liked me and decided I must not be pretty enough, skinny enough, cool enough, etc.
But still, I felt that call to marriage. I didn't write off the vocation to religious life, I painfully and prayerfully discerned it and I know beyond a doubt that it is not for me. So I was still left without an answer. I had never even experienced being in love or being loved in that way, but there was no convincing my heart that there was any other ultimate purpose for it than to love a husband and children.
My most honest prayer during this time in my life was,
God, I just want to know my last name.
That probably sounds crazy. It's Fontaine, I know, with an 'i' in the middle and that sneaky 'e' on the end that people always forget. But it's not the name I'll always have. It's not the last name that my kids will grow up having. I just wanted to know what it was- who I was going to be, whose wife I was going to become.
The problem with that is assuming that the most important thing that will change about me once I get married is my last name. My new last name will not redefine who I am. But who I am when I enter into that relationship and how I let myself be changed by it and the unknown husband is important. The best way to have a friend is to be a friend, right? So it follows that the guy God has in store for me might not come into the picture until I'm ready to be the girl God has in mind for that guy. God's timing is far more perfect than mine. So if I haven't met the guy yet, nor admittedly ANY guy yet, then there's a reason.
I know that I am only 20. I know that it is not that weird to be this age and not have yet experienced being in a relationship. I know I seem like a crazed wannabe stay-at-home mom. But if you know that you are called to marriage, and you know that it is your vocation to love that way, you kinda wanna get to it.
So, Lent. The time of preparation. I'm challenging myself to take this Lent to accept God's will- more specifically, His timeline. I understand that I may not meet the guy by Easter or be the girl planning a wedding by graduation- I'm not even trying for that, promise. What I want is to take this time set aside during Lent to focus on what I'm going to do for myself BEFORE I meet that guy. Do I want to do a year of service? Get another degree, move across the country? Be a missionary, move to a different country? I can do that.
I can't just wait for my life to happen to me, or for a guy to introduce himself to me as my future husband. (Have to say though, that would make for quite an interesting story) I can live my life now, just as fully and happily even without knowing all the answers. I can prepare for my future life by embracing life as I know it now. By earnestly moving toward Christ, I am assuredly moving closer to the one He has set aside for me.