On Mindful Monday, my readers and I practice the art of pausing, TRYING to be still, or considering, ever so briefly, the big picture. We’re hoping this soul time will provide enough peace of mind to get us through the week! I wanted to republish this piece today since it is Eric and my 13th wedding anniversary.
It’s that season of the year when the bridal magazines weigh more than the brides themselves, and four-year-olds like my daughter flip through the pages as they dream of their own Cinderella wedding.
Ironically, as a young girl I never dreamed of a Prince Charming sweeping me off my feet as he professed his undying love for me. I pictured myself more like Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music,” except that I wanted to stay in the convent, and preferred to keep a safe distance from a bunch of singing kids.
One of my first conversations with my husband, Eric, went like this:
Eric: “What do you see yourself doing in like five years?”
Me: “Feeding a bunch of hungry kids in a third-world country as a missionary. I want to join the convent.”
Eric: “Oh. That’s interesting.”
Why he asked me out after that still baffles me. All I can think of is that maybe he knew more about the vocation of marriage in his 20s than I did.
Because I mistakenly thought that in order to do good in this world you needed to join the religious orders. I categorized “marriage” in that secular place that everything average and dull and normal went, the classification of people who had no “real vocation.”
Now, having been married 12 years, I take back my black-and-white thinking regarding married life (and practically everything else) of my goody-two-shoes days. Because the vocation of marriage is anything but boring. And it is sacred. We are just as holy as the folks who have professed vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In fact, “poverty, chastity, and obedience” is a fitting description for marriage on some days.
In his 1987 pastoral visit to the United States, Pope John Paul II said: “The bond that unites a family is not only a matter of natural kinship or a shared life and experience. It is essentially a holy and religious bond. Marriage and the family are sacred realities.”
Most of my married friends appreciate the truth of these words after they’ve been through a family crisis: when a family member is sick or dies, or something else substantial happens. In my life that happened three years ago when I fell very ill and stayed ill for close to two years. The stress in our household challenged our vows more so than at any other time. And I realized why the promises we exchanged on our wedding day were so holy: only God can keep together two persons torn in several different directions, who can so easily get distracted.
A friend of mine once told me that a marriage is like a braid of three strings. God is the third string, and without His presence in your marriage, the two strings can easily split.
That’s no fairy tale, unfortunately. It’s not as easy as Prince Charming showing up on his noble steed. There is no happily ever after without lots of work and even more prayer. And yet, when a couple involves God and stays committed to their nuptial vows, the vocation of marriage is, indeed, very sacred.