“P” is for Prayer

September 2, 2010 at 2:48 pm Leave a comment

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Just a couple weeks ago we had an impromptu garage sale after combing our households. How, you may ask, does one go about having an impromptu garage sale? Well first you have 3x as much stuff as your townhouse has room for. Next you sort, compromise, hem and haw about whether or not you should keep three printers and two scanners, you fill up garbage bags with clothes, and you list big items on Craig’s list. Then you freak out that the garage sale will be too much work for very little payoff and you call St Vincent De Paul’s to arrange pick up of your garage worth of stuff.  You make meetings with Craig’s list people who flake out on you and then you arrange for a bunch of people to meet you at your old house to purchase Craig’s list stuff on a Saturday morning.  The next step is for your neighbor to have a garage sale and post lots of signs, then on said Saturday morning packs of rabid garage salers will confuse your open garage with piles of stuff for a garage sale and start offering you money for your stuff.  Accept the money gladly, sell stuff to the only non-flaky Craigs listers who show up and still have plenty of goodies for the St Vincent de Paul people.   Well, at least that’s what we did.

To say we had a lot of stuff is an understatement.  After selling $600 of our belongings we still had 12 garbage bags of clothes, and over 20 boxes of household goods for charity.  Unfortunately our townhouse still has lots of boxes to be unpacked.  One area where we did a lot of purging was with books.  As I was sorting through a box of books I found a book that I don’t need anymore.

The ABCs of Choosing a Good Husband

I sat down on my bed and had a little laugh.  As ridiculous as the title is, it gave me pause and led to a little self reflection.  My well-meaning mother gifted me the ABC’s book when I was in my 20’s at a time when the topic of this book was the furthest thing from my mind.  I remember smiling painfully and thanking her while trying to figure out where on my bookshelf to hide it so guests wouldn’t see the title.  I didn’t throw it away, I just let it collect dust- moving it with me from Indiana to Wisconsin, to Georgia, and all the way to Washington.  Let’s be real, I had no intention of opening it, but I couldn’t throw it away.  My mom is notorious for giving books that you aren’t ready for- but if you hold on to it I have found that down the road it is just the right thing in another situation.

My 20’s were a time of exploration.  I identified the type of person I didn’t want to marry, by dating just that type of man, repeatedly.  I tossed aside what I had learned in the Church as a child, and looked for something more but came up empty.  I was a wayward Catholic not very well educated in my faith and barely attending Mass. I had periods of strained relationships with my family and periods of personal crisis.  In my mid-twenties I began a journey back to my Catholic faith, but I was difficult reconciling my actions with my beliefs.

In the later half of my tumultuous twenties there came a point in time where I decided that I was through with dating.  I needed to focus on myself and my relationship with friends, family and God. I was confident that if I did those things that I would know when I was ready to date and meet my future husband.  I had no idea how long it would take and to be honest I didn’t think about it. I worked at becoming a happier, more well-balanced Pretzel.  I strengthened relationships with family and with other women.  I focused on work, faith, friends, and family.

At Catholic Mass every Sunday we say prayers for the intentions of the world, our community, our parish, and lastly for our own intentions.  There is a brief moment of silence where you lift up your intentions in silence.   During this time, I kept myself centered with one prayer.

Lord, strengthen me today, help me to grow in Your love and to love You more fully.  Help me to become the “me” that You want me to be and to reflect Your love to those around me

Months turned into a year, then a year turned into two.  I didn’t miss dating.  I didn’t long for a relationship. I was content.  But then suddenly I felt ready to date and immediately I was scared.  My life without dating or romance was comfortable and I realized that I didn’t know how to date anymore.  It took 6 months from feeling ready before I ventured out into the dating world.  At the same time bridesmaid H was also emerging from a dating break.   She gifted me a book.

Date or Soul Mate: How to know if someone is worth pursuing in two dates or less (image source)

Not knowing where to start with dating I read it. It gave me a great framework for clearly articulating to myself what I did and didn’t want in a spouse and a framework for how to hold myself true to that. This book made me curious about the book my mom had given me.  I dug it out of a box, and blew the dust off.  I’m glad I didn’t read the book in my 20’s when I most surely would have rejected very word written.  Don’t get me wrong, the book is hokey as all get out and has a very limited audience that it would ring true with, but with an open mind I did find helpful and insightful nuggets of information.  The structure was 26 short chapters arranged in A, B, C format, for example A is for abstinence (I don’t remember if it was but likely that is what A was for).  For many men and women today A would have been the end of the book but for me it wasn’t a deal breaker.   However, the chapter that stuck with me was P is for Prayer.

I had after all been praying for my conversion and deepening of faith wouldn’t it to make sense to also pray for my future husband? Not “pray for a husband” but pray for my future husband to be drawn closer to God, to protect him and instill in him a strong faith?  My Sunday intention morphed into a prayer for myself and my future husband.

Thank you Lord for bringing me closer to you.  Help me to continue to grow in your love.  Deepen my faith and the faith of my future husband.  Protect him and help him to be a charitable loving witness to Your love.

It brought me comfort to pray for my future husband.  Immediately after starting dating Mr Pretzel and I started to attend Church together every Sunday.  Standing next to him during the general intercessions I would offer up a prayer for us both.

Lord, thank you for bringing Mr P into my life.  Help us to discern our love for each other, and draw us even closer to each other and closer to you.  Help our love reflect your love for us.

For a long time I didn’t tell Mr P about the prayers that I had been offering up for him (both before I met him and during our courtship) but when I did I was pleasantly surprised at his reaction.  He didn’t think it was strange or weird as I had feared.  As an engaged couple my prayer changed again.  I started to pray for our preparation for marriage.

Lord, thank you for the blessings of our engagement.  Help us to be open in our marriage preparations and to better understand the Sacrament of Marriage.  Help us to be patient with each other in these busy and stressful times.  Draw us ever closer to each other and to you.

Mr Pretzel and I didn’t pray together until our Engaged Encounter retreat and I really wish that we had.  Where I had spent some time in my 20’s attending a Baptist church where I learned how to pray spontaneously, Mr Pretzel had never had experience with spontaneous prayer.  We found the process of crafting a prayer together a very uniting.   On our wedding day we had a semi private time where we offered up prayer together.  We prayed for our families – the first people who taught us love and Gods love of us, for engaged couples preparing for the Sacrament of marriage, and lastly for blessings on our marriage.  Each Sunday since, the prayer that I offer for intercession has changed again, to focus on strengthening out marriage bond. While we both pray separately, we are working together to make time to pray together.

For me, these small prayers have kept me focused and grounded throughout Mr Pretzel and my courtship and engagement.  Sitting on my bed, looking at the “A,B,C’s of Choosing a Good Husband” I smiled and my eyes welled with tears of joy.

P is for Prayer.

Is prayer a part of your path?  Do you have any tips or suggestions for engaged couples who want to incorporate prayer into their marriage preparation?

** I realize that this post is very Catholic/Christian centered, as it can only represent my personal journey and my personal beliefs.  I love to hear about other journey’s and paths- especially regarding matters of faith and spirituality, however, I do want to ask that commenters be respectful that faith and religion are deeply personal matters to many people. Thanks!

PS I resisted the urge to hold onto these books for sentimental reasons and both books were donated to St Vincent De Paul’s.

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Entry filed under: Background.

The “meat” of it Woot, Woot, FAIL

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