Project Conversion

My wife should have never married me. In fact, she should have said said no when I got particularly drunk on the night of September 23, 2003 and asked her out. I tried to break up with her, but she wouldn’t listen. Heather is stubborn like that.

The fact is, my marriage with Heather shouldn’t have lasted this long (seven years tomorrow). We’ve weathered an incredible number of storms in our life together, and yet we always manage to get through. Marriages have fallen apart around us, but somehow, we stick together. Some might tell you that love, pure love, is the key to a successful marriage–one that is unbreakable. In my experience, love has little to do with marital success.

A marriage’s greatest asset, is friendship.

Jesus said in the Gospel of John, chapter 15:13

Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

My buddy and me

During our wedding vows (we wrote our own), I didn’t write about love, I wrote about friendship. And even though I was no longer a Christian, I remembered that one verse and thought, is there a better expression of love than that?

You see, Heather and I didn’t start off dating in college. We became friends two years before that fateful, drunken night, and became inseparable from that point on. In fact, I was suspended from college because of poor grades and attendance for two reasons: drugs/alcohol, and Heather. We did everything together, but were never romantically interested in one another. I passed out in her bed or on the floor of her dorm or apartment at least once a week, but despite the accusations of her friends (and boyfriends), nothing ever happened. I even quit a job because they told me I couldn’t take the weekend off to ride with her back  back  home for her high school friend’s wedding. Heather’s dating life was often frustrated by our relationship too, but as the rule went, Heather and I were a package deal. If the boyfriend didn’t like me (that was most of the time), Heather wasn’t interested.

We made plans to live together forever, but never as a couple, but to live out our lives together in some great adventure. It was like “Will and Grace”, only I wasn’t gay.

Heather was mine, and I was Heather’s. She was literally my other half and from the very beginning, she had something, a quality of life that I was missing: gravity.

For reasons I’ll never understand, we eventually married. I can tell you now that I didn’t marry Heather just for love, even though I love her more than life itself. I married her because no other woman could ever be in my life except her. Marriage to another woman would have been hell because she could never measure up to my best friend. We use the word too often in our culture but in the purest sense of the word, Heather is perfect, and perfect just for me.

Us on the big day

Our seven-year wedding anniversary is tomorrow, December 4th. We’re dirt broke, so instead of expensive gifts or a fancy dinner out, we’re dumping the kids off at my mom’s, coming back home, fixing a nice dinner together in the kitchen and just chilling at home, enjoying one another’s company. Sounds boring, right? Not to best friends. We’ve been angry, upset, sad, happy, and in pain…but never bored.

So what is today’s post really about? My Mentor this month told me that the Church begins not at the Mass, but in the home. The home–the family–must be sanctified before the Mass can be meaningful. He’s so right.

In Heather’s anniversary letter to me, she wrote that this year has been the greatest challenge, blessing, and threat to our marriage. She’s right as well. We have fought, cried, and struggled more this year than any other. For the first time in our marriage, we’ve both even thought about divorce. Project Conversion is that intense, people. When I say that I’m giving this my all, I’m not kidding.

You must understand that this isn’t just some personal curiosity of mine. I’m not traveling all over the state, spending 18 hours a day in study, rearranging myself monthly because it’s some hobby. Let me make this clear: I have nothing short of a world vision with this project and world visions often cost lives, marriages, and friendships. You might say, nothing is worth your marriage or your life. Send me an email, and I’ll send you a list of those champions of humanity who made our world a better place by doing just that. I don’t want my marriage, my greatest success in this life, to end, but I have to be willing to lay down everything. It’s all or nothing.

Further in her letter, she acknowledged this as well. She understood that her role in all of this is to be what she’s always been for me: gravity. I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I dream huge–sometimes unimaginably huge–and I don’t always keep my feet on the ground. Heather gives me mass, substance, a reality to stick to. We understand that my vision for humanity cannot work without both of us playing our parts in unison. She has witnessed her best friend and husband transform into the man he was destined to be, and she is now taking the reigns because she knows she’s the only force on this planet that can tame me and help me properly direct my energy.

At the same time, I realized that as important as my work is, for me to call myself her friend, I must also be willing to lay down my life and everything with it, for her. That includes Project Conversion. This year has given and taken so much from my family, so incredibly much, but my friendship with my wife is what held us together, not love.

So today and tomorrow, in honor of my friendship and seven-year wedding anniversary with my wife, I’m setting Project Conversion at the altar of that bond. I’m giving up everything for us. As a Catholic this month, I believe the language of friendship and sacrifice are rarely spoken of better than through the life of Christ. This is an important study that I think we might all benefit from, regardless of our faith.

God bless, and I’ll see you again on Monday!

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