Today my husband and I are celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary!! In honor of such a lovely occasion we'll be enjoying the usual wrath of Monday bananas - baseball games, golf practices, 40 mph scorching winds, boys bouncing off walls, Cheerios stuck between the toes and marbles "accidentally"rolled up the nose, bills to pay, laundry to fold, mouths to feed, messes to clean and hay to harvest, but we'll be doing it in love, and that, my friends, is a miracle!!
With our sprawl of polo clad brutes sitting between us (yawning, picking noses and thumb-wrestling), Steve and I immediately locked eyes, our expressions full of admiration for that couple, remembering that the next day we would celebrate our own anniversary of 13 years. Marital infants. That's what we are, really. What I would have done for a 5 minute interview with that couple just to get a quick copy of their recipe for success!
Hearing about their wonderful news truly lifted my soul. Their love is an incredible testimony to the beauty and strength of marriage - you know, that old fashioned out-dated institution that is constantly being thrown in the gutter like a piece of useless trash?? It's like, don't say the "m" word, it's sooo taboo. Oh, wait, you're married too?? Does it bother you that I just referred to marriage as trash?? It should. It should bother all of us deeply.
When I speak of marriage, I'm not speaking of the modern idea or even the ideals of marriage, but of the sacrament itself. For Catholics, a sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to impart grace. We, as married couples, are meant to be a living sign of Christ's love and of His grace. Many of us fall in love with an idea of what marriage should be, should feel like, should look like, and when it doesn't live up to our hopes and dreams, to our fantasy novels, Holywood
The sadness in that unfortunate escape is that the person(s) never give themselves the opportunity to experience authentic happiness. Whether we like it or not (and I'm saying this to myself), none of us can escape the paradox that beauty blooms brightest in the midst of suffering and sacrifice. It is written into the story of all of our lives. If we are to be that outward "sign" of Christ, of Trinitarian love, than we cannot separate ourselves from the cross. We are to be a sign of mercy, of hope, of selfless, disinterested love. None of those things can possibly come without a cross. There is a deep, abiding purpose in that cross - to make us more Christ like, to refine us, and ultimately to make us holy. We were made for something more than this life. We were made for heaven. If you are married, then the purpose of your marriage is to help each other get to heaven.
Was that a Debbie Downer moment?? I'm sorry, let's lighten it up a bit...
How about a (real) love story??**Just so there's no confusion, I'm not referring to the fake "let's have sex on our first date, move in together and then get to know each other impostor bull$@*% lust-is-love Schmaltzywood stories. Was that too vague?? Mkay, good.**
We all know that the greatest love stories are called "great" because they endure the test of life and the test of time. Lovers triumph over difficult odds and tempting evils, they hold on to one another despite the discomforts of life and intense pressures that are forced upon them by the world and by circumstances which they cannot control. They fight, they laugh, they cry, they stay close when they really want to run, they believe when it's easier to doubt and they pray when all hope seems to be lost. And most of all, they forgive one another again and again and again. Those are the love stories we love. Those are the love stories that last, stories that we can believe in.
When we are faithful to our vows and committed to our commitment, we can be that love story for others. We LIVE the story that inspire others, the one that helps young lovers to trust that real love is possible, the one that we will tell our kids and our grand kids about if we are willing to stay in there, to believe in ourselves and in our spouse, and with the strength of grace, endure the deep refining pressure of sacrifice and struggle, so that in the end our life together might emerge beautiful, like a diamond.
Now, with that, I believe that it's time for me to text my husband something super romantic like, "Babe, your lunch is ready. Sandwiches served with a side of smooch is on the menu."
To love is to cherish one thought, to live for the person loved, not to belong to oneself, happily and freely with one's heart and soul, to be subjected to another will...and at the same time one's own.
~ St. Josemaria Escriva, Furrow