Okay, for the final time . . . begin with the Prayer of Abandonment.
Holy Saturday has special significance for me: It is the day I was welcomed into the Church after nearly a year of studying and pondering whether I should become Catholic. On that Easter Vigil afternoon in 1994, dressed in a beautiful white gown and red sash, I lit my candle and walked steadily into the sanctuary. Five years later, I stood beside my fiancé as he entered the Church himself, just months before our wedding.
In the weeks leading up to that moment, I’d had spiritual “cold feet.” It would have been much easier to simply walk away — and if I had done so, I was confident that my friends and family would have considered it an answer to their prayers.
But in the end, I knew what I had to do. And so I took a deep breath, and followed. Twenty-odd years later, I look back and honestly cannot remember why I’d had such misgivings. And I cannot imagine what my life would be like today, had I not made that leap of faith.
Perhaps as you look back over your life, you cannot remember a time when your husband did not occupy a corner of your heart. And perhaps that is a good and reassuring thing . . . or maybe at this particular moment it seems more like a life sentence. Either way, you can rest in two important certainties:
- Feelings are not facts. Your present feelings can — and likely will – change many times over the course of your marriage. Some days you will look across the breakfast table and feel butterflies. Other days, the sensation will be much less pleasant (particularly if you spent a sleepless night). Enjoy the first. Endure the second. Either way, it will pass.
- Love is not a feeling. Love is something you wake up every morning and choose. “Today, just for today, I am going to love.” On good days, warm-and-fuzzy feelings are the icing on the cake. But seriously, who wants a plate of nothing but frosting? The cake is the whole point. The frosting makes the day sweeter — but it cannot provide real sustenance. Feelings can give you quite a rush . . . but a marriage is based on a daily choice to love.
I’d like to thank those of you who have already taken the time to write to me. Some of you are asking God to work a miracle in your home, and especially in the heart of your husband. Others found a particular challenge especially timely. As we place ourselves firmly in the hand of God, abandoning ourselves to His will, amazing things can happen!
One last thing as we end this challenge: What did you find especially helpful? Are there some themes you wished that I’d included here, but didn’t — or that you would like to see me revise for next year’s Challenge? I’d love to hear from you! You can comment here, if you want to . . . or if you would like to contact me privately, you can drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And while you are writing, I offer one final challenge: Create a love letter for your husband, telling him about your Challenge experience. If you have never done something like this before, and find yourself at a loss for words, don’t let that stop you. Just set aside your pen for a moment and offer up this little prayer …
“Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you. All things pass away, but God never changes. Patience obtains all things. She who possesses God will never want for anything. God alone suffices.” (Teresa of Avila)
And then . . . begin again.
God bless you!
Saint Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!
Holy Family, pray for us!