Editor’s note: As a part of FMS’ 2017 Advent blog series, Graphic Design Associate Alessia Catena shares the feeling of God’s presence as a moment of welcome and faith in her relationship.

When my fiancée, Chris, and I were first discerning marriage, he was getting ready to move halfway across the world to Japan. Odd timing, I know, but we both felt a very strong calling towards this vocation and we were determined to pursue what we felt was the Lord’s will. Prior to his departure, I thought, “The distance won’t be bad at all…I believe this is something God wants for us. Therefore, everything will be great.” Well, unsurprisingly, it was extremely difficult; I felt like a big part of me was missing. I distanced myself from those around me and I retreated inwards. I began second-guessing myself and losing the trust I had in God’s providence. It got to a point where I doubted the calling, the relationship. I asked God for guidance but I did not feel His presence. I felt confused and alone: what if I was wrong? What if I make the biggest mistake of my life? The fear of failure took over and my faith in Him dwindled.

But God is good. And He was always there.

After relentless prayer, He provided, as He always does. Through conversations with others and reading from various resources, God spoke to me. He let me know that He wants what’s good for me and what will bring me closer to Him. The Lord’s will for my life includes those things that cultivate my most authentic self, and my relationship with Chris did just that. From day one we’ve built a relationship on a foundation of putting God before all else, a foundation that we believe can’t be shaken by anything or anyone.

In time, I started to become more confident. Chris and I began a 54-day novena asking the Lord to grant us peace and guidance for the path we were taking. Already, during that first week of the novena, I felt a peace of mind and peace of heart that I had never experienced before, and I knew this was right. At that moment I felt God was welcoming us to our vocation. There was so much joy and relief because we had welcomed Him into our relationship first and foremost. The distance was and is challenging at times, but regardless, we have been able to do all things through Him who strengthens us!

Reflection question: When was a time you felt God’s presence in a personal relationship?