Even when it’s hard, “marriage does not have to die”. If you are struggling, seek help. Not help out, but help to heal.
In reading today’s reflection by Pope Francis about the wedding at Cana, it struck me further….The wine is our love for each other, the joy that we feel, the desire to be in union with the other. I thought about how the wine ran out, just as sometimes that does in our marriages. Bad planning, oversight, neglect, using more than we are putting in, etc., it all contributes to finding ourselves scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Jesus can change the ordinary into extraordinary though. Maybe it’s the mundane household chores or the tiring commute to work. Maybe the passion and desire is not only gone, but been replaced with frustration, dislike, even disgust (I bet water quality wasn’t always great in Biblical times).
Whatever it may be, Jesus can transform it into something amazing and more desirable than even the good you had before. He won’t do it without your request though:
When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” …His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
He might not do it in your timing either:
What does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.
And it will take work by you:
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.
You might be taken by surprise. The servants didn’t know all what would become of all the water they labored to carry in and the Master was perplexed by the best coming second, but the party could continue now. The cups overflowed.
This new wine might look the same on the surface, but with the transformative love that you’ve allowed Jesus to work in you, even those mundane or difficult daily realities can become beautiful moments ripe with delicious love and lead to joyful celebrations.
Today is a hard day. They are less frequent, but they still come around, unwelcome and unwanted. They are usually caused by one of, or all, of the following things:
Jealousy, Envy, Resentment: I see my husband’s life gain another major success in life or see more support coming from people that should be chastising his choices. I see him getting to do all the things that have been my dreams and that I currently don’t have the opportunity to do. I see him make claims about his faith that are in direct contradiction to what his is living in our marriage and he nor his friends seem to see it.
“But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.” James 3:14-15
Pride: I get stuck on what rumors have been spread about me. I think of all my Christian brothers and sisters who have not only failed to ask my side of the story, but they have seemingly supported my husband in abandoning me.
“The humble man is not cast down by the censures or the slights of others. If he has unconsciously given occasion for them, he amends the faults; if he deserves them not, he treats them as trifles.” –Venerable Fulton J. Sheen
Fear: Will I ever get to properly enjoy married life? Will anyone love me the way only a husband can and should? Will I ever get to bear and raise children? Will I be able to take care of myself financially? Will I ever get to live out my dreams? Can I forgive him?
“Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s…This battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” 2 Chronicles 20: 15-17
Exhaustion: I’m just so tired of being angry, betrayed, lonely, broken-hearted. Tired of fighting the good fight. Tired of hanging on to something out of a mixture of obedience and hope, but without being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Tired of the endless dialogue in my head, replaying every moment of our relationship.
“May the Lord give to all of us the grace to not be afraid of the consolation of the Lord, to be open: ask for it, seek it, because it is a consolation that will give us hope, and make us feel the tenderness of God the Father.” Pope Francis, Dec 10, 2013
Every person, married or not, experiences days like this. Have faith. I have no idea when or how I will get through right now, but I know I will, eventually. I might wake up and be fine tomorrow or maybe I have a week of desperately grasping at solid ground as my heart feels more and more sucked into the quicksand. As hard as it is, look for the small things. Ask God for signs, but don’t expect billboards and neon lights. My support often comes through what my daily devotional says, or the daily Mass readings, or the message the priest gives in his homily. Sometimes, it’s a post on Facebook. This week I even had an acquaintance I barely know message me within an hour of finding myself in the pit again. He was specifically asking how I was and letting me know he was praying. I also reached out to my friends and family who I know would want to give me support. And I’ve also let myself cry, a lot. I’ve let myself feel, experience, and live out the pain. Despite all my little signs, the reality is that it still hurts. As my friend said last night, it’s a ‘hurts to be breathing’ kind of day. I’m slowly learning that I can’t let frustration of being in pain cause me more pain. I know that this is normal and expected and I need to accept it for what it is. It will not last forever, even if the situation does. It will not define me, even if I can’t see my life for anything else right now.
If you happened to be wondering, Ithought I should take a brief moment to explain to you why I chose the name “Like Christ Loved”. It comes from Ephesians 5: “husbands love your wives like Christ loved the Church.”
1. I am NOT only highlighting what husbands are supposed to do.
2. Yes women, I know many of you don’t particularlly like Ephesians 5, but as you can see by the section I’ve highlighted, it’s not as misogynistic or womanizing as many intitially assume.
I want to give ample time to this text that I think should be mandatory at every Christian marriage ceremony. For now though, just a taste of why the name of my blog:
In every area of our lives we are called to love ‘like Christ loved’. This is not just limited to our spouses, but it has upmost importance in this context. Christ loved each and every one of us to the point of His death. I think we as Christians, especially Catholics, are somewhat desensitized to the Cross and the Crucifix. We see it all the time: In Church, in our homes, hanging from our rearview mirror, on our necks, on our ears…you get the point. We hear about it all the time too: Jesus died for your sins. Pick up your Cross and follow Me. Through the death on the Cross we have been reconciled. But how often does it just pass over us without really sinking in?
I have never seen the movie The Passion, because I honestly don’t think I could handle it. If I turn my eyes away in bloody scene in fiction movies, I don’t think I could stomach seeing an extremely realistic portrayal of what Jesus did for us. Maybe it is a good movie for all of us to watch once a year though. Really watch it. Then go read it in Scripture again…
…Then read Eph 5 again.
You see, how many marriages, Christian marriages, end when one or both spouses say, “God wouldn’t want me to be this unhappy”, “I deserve better”, “They did (fill in the blank) and that gives me the moral right to leave.”
Did Jesus die for your sins?
Has God given up on you?
Did you apologize first and THEN Jesus died for your sins?
Do you have perfect contrition every time you make a mistake?
Has God shown you mercy in order to soften your heart and show you His love?
So why have you given up on your spouse?
Do you withhold forgiveness from your spouse until they apologize and repent?
Do you expect them to have perfect contrition that meets your demands before you allow for reconcilliation?
Why do you hold your spouse to be nearly perfect, when you still have not yet finished being perfected yourself?
Do you demand justice on your spouse, but mercy for yourself?
So when I say, “Like Christ Loved”, I mean to challenge us to really love like He did. He was perfect, with no blemish, no sin, no shortcomings. Yet, His people still killed him. They tortured Him, they hammered inch long thorns into His skull, they ripped the skin off His back in strips, they humiliated Him, they called Him a liar, worse:a blasphemer. I then mocked Him and His claims, my spouse then laid a heavy cross on His back and demanded Him to carry it, your spouse then stripped Him buck naked in front of the entire city, you then hammered nails into His hands and feet, we all then stared at Him a while….then we all went back to our daily routine…..
We do not deserve what Christ did for us, but He did it to save us, because He loved us. God is our bridegroom, we are the bride. We, the bride nailed Him to that cross. Jesus, our groom, freely chose to marry His bride, the Church. He married her by laying down His life on the cross. Think about that! The cross is the marriage bed of the Church’s (our) union with God. It is where He consumated His union with us. It is where He saved us by giving us His flesh. We see it as this beautiful thing when we reflect on how now have access to salvation, but do you see how it reflects on your marriage? His torturous death was also our beautiful marriage to Him! Its so horrifying and so beautiful at the same time! Now think about this:We, His bride are the very persons that nailed Him to that Cross. As you can see, Ican’t emphasize that enough.
So the next time that you say that you deserve better or you think that your spouses sins and shortcomings are ample reasons enough to justify you foregoing mercy and forgiveness, think again about what you did to your spouse Jesus…and what He’s still doing for you.
Bear with me.
This is going to be rough. Rough because I’m not a grand writer. Rough because I’m nervous. Rough because I’m still dealing with my own slow learning curve. Rough because I’m still processing every single word that I’ll be telling you.
I write this blog for anyone who is affected by marriage. If that’s not you, then check your pulse. No matter what stage or state you are in life, in some way, shape, or form, you are affected by marriage. Maybe it’s your own, maybe your parent’s, maybe your friend’s, maybe your child’s. If none of those, then the total strangers’ who have found themselves dependent on your tax money to stay afloat after a divorce financial catastrophe. Any way you cut it, you can’t escape it.
I write to be a voice that is not often heard anymore. A voice to talk about strengthening marriage. A voice to uphold vows with absolutely no exceptions.
You’ll get to know me as I write, but here’s a few tidbits: I am married. I am a wife. My husband left me. We’ve been married for less than five years. We are both Christian. We are both practicing Catholics.
So I will draw from theology, psychology, philosophy, and personal experience to support you wherever you are in your journey. I will be addressing mostly issues pertaining to marriages that are struggling and need support and reasons to stay committed. My main goal is to foster reconciliation and growth in your marriage, but I will also be posting tidbits on preparing for marriage, how to make good marriages better, friendship, the concept of love in general, social impacts, etc.
By the time you find this I assume that my blog posts will paint a better picture. Comment. Question. Discuss.