I thought this would be a fun post in the midst of Wedding Season.
Before I was married, there was one question I always loved to ask couples: How did you meet? I was blown away by the idea that somehow a stranger (in most cases) could be brought into your life and eventually become, in many respects, your whole world - your lives becoming so intimately interwoven.
From the time I was twelve, I had ended my prayers with a simple request: "Please bless, strengthen and protect my future husband and bring us together in such a way that we will both know it was Your will." I wanted clarity. I often told God that He would need to hit me over the head with it, as I knew I couldn't always trust my own feelings. He took me up on it. So without further ado:
How we met... and though highly biased, I think it's a pretty cool story.
Patrick and I both attended a retreat a year before World Youth Day in Toronto. I was 22 and he had just turned 26. It was a weekend of prayer and fellowship being held for young leaders who would be working to prepare their parishes for the following year's big event. As my sister and I drove to the retreat, we teased each other that with all the young, faithful, Catholic men in attendance, perhaps we'd be meeting our future husbands. It was especially funny to me, as after years of resisting, I had finally come to a point where I had told God that I would be more than happy to enter the religious life if that was His will for me.
My first memory of Patrick was seeing him in the chapel after Mass. He was in the pew in front of me and caught my eye as we were exiting. One of the girls from my parish noticed the rugby shirt he was wearing (while in the process of "noticing" him). She asked him if he played. He simply said no, then turned his attention to me. "Where are you from?" I clumsily grabbed my name tag and showed him the parish listed. He smiled and we exchanged some small talk and contact info. That was pretty much it until I saw him again two months later.
Our parish was hosting a celebration of the opening of our newly constructed church. We were pretty excited after having attended Mass in a local school gymnasium for a number of years. We invited some of our connections from the retreat to attend the first youth Mass. When I saw Patrick, my heart jumped. He was really warm and friendly, unfortunately the same girl from the retreat was also being "friendly" and I was a little worried that I wouldn't get a chance to get to talk to him.
After Mass we had a bonfire and a late night swim. On the drive to the lake, my almost 15 year old brother, who knew I was interested in Patrick said, "You know, if you don't get in there and talk to him, there's no way he'll even notice you." I told him that I really felt that if God wanted us to be together, somehow He'd provide the opportunity for us to connect. I thought it would feel natural and that I wouldn't have to force things.
Later, Patrick, my brother, the flirty girl, and I were swimming in an area of the lake. As Flirty was talking it up with Patrick, I remember looking up and praying, "God, if it's Your will for us to get together, You'll have to make a way." A moment later, the girl let out a cry. Her leg had started to cramp up and she needed to get back to shore. My brother was nice (VERY nice) and swam after her, making sure she was fine and leaving Patrick and I alone in the still, glassy water under a panoramic sky painted with a multitude of stars. I thought, Wow, God. You. Are. Good. We talked for a very long time and the only way I can describe it is that I felt like I had come home. Later, when I was relating the events of the evening to my mom, I told her that I'd met the man I was going to marry. Patrick called me a couple of days later and we had our first date a few days after that. We were engaged within three months, and were married six months later, not even having known each other a year. Our first baby was due exactly nine months after our wedding day - we meant business! We recently celebrated 14 years of marriage, with 11 children and 5 more in heaven. God was so faithful in bringing Patrick and I together and I feel abundantly blessed.
I still love asking couples about how they met, especially those who placed their future in God's hands. He's proven to be the ultimate matchmaker.
I'd really love to hear your stories too! Feel free to leave a comment on the Little Douglings Facebook page - And if you feel inclined, give us a Like too!