I have this funny habit of reassuring myself that I have plenty of time, and then bury my head down in the everyday details instead. Which I guess isn't the wrong thing to do, since we must, after all, carpe diem! So while I've "seized the day" only a few days out of the week, the months have flown by. I'm a regular married woman now, with regular wifely duties like meal planning, picking up man underwear, ironing shirts, cleaning our
My honest to goodness answer is no (what did I expect??). However, through the things that I've learned, I understand the meaning of sanctification better, and I have a much more concrete idea of the new challenges that God has set before me to tackle.
I have much less patience than I thought.
Before marriage, I thought I could work through most social and relationship obstacles while keeping most of my inner peace in tact. Yea, there were a few instances where an eye roll and a sigh seemed a mandatory response, but looking back, I realized I usually made a fast get away from whatever situation was bothering me. My mother was right: I avoid confrontation and consternation by simply avoiding people and not developing deep relationships. Of course I would offer sympathy and support for friends when they needed it, but I never let it get to the point where they could be privy to my faults or have a personal problem with me. Sunshine all around!
Now that I have a spouse, I have a different struggle. We share everything and he can see ALL my faults, even ones I didn't know I had! I can see all his faults, ones he previously ignored too. And heres the kicker: we have to help each other with our faults; we have to be INVOLVED! We must help each other carry our crosses. Thus, I have found I am not as patient as I thought. Fortunately, I know we (hopefully) have our whole lives to learn to bear each other's natural human failures better. We're in it for the long run, which means a lot of time outs, deep breathing, and understanding. Oh and love. Love makes it easier.
Mercy and understanding goes a long way.
Something that goes along with all that patience is mercy. Mercy actually helps with gaining more patience. As human beings, husbands will disappoint their wives in many ways. They get home an hour later than they say, they don't put the dishes away right, they wake up in a bad mood, they say rude things, and sometimes you wonder if they were raised by wolves. It could be anything really. I've recently discovered some things bother me more than I thought, so theres that.
My long time, long distance friend sent me a book for Christmas called "By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride" by Alice Von Hildebrand. It is a compilation of letters send to a young woman, recently married, by an elderly widow. As the young woman, Julie, encounters the first joys and disappointments of the first two years of marriage, the elderly woman, Lily, guides her through each one, contributing her wisdom. Partly because she is a widow of many years, she greatly encourages the idea of considering the sacredness of marriage from the start. A constant theme she uses throughout her letters is regarding the spouse with a Tabor vision of him/her. Jesus revealed his divinity to the apostles on Mount Tabor and in doing so, it deepened the faith and love of each of his closest followers. So too we must practice regarding our spouse with the same eyes God does. What made me fall in love with him? How do I find his soul beautiful? What has God destined for him? How do I fight for his soul? Once I considered each of these things, the small struggles carried less weight, and more opportunity to love him as God does. Now, is it always my go-to tactic when he disturbs my inner peace? Certainly not! Who am I, a saint? So that'll take practice.
Once I remind myself of his soul, I am reminded of God's mercy and understanding too. He hates cleaning the bathroom, and never does a very good job, but maybe the chemicals really gross him out and make his hands itch? Maybe the merciful thing to do would ask him to do another chore that's less aggravating. He said something very rude, but how about I ask him what he meant before I jump down his throat? He forgot our anniversary, but maybe something major occurred at work and really threw him for the day. Instead, I'll wait to bring it up at a better time, and we can work something out together. I know that he really does go out of his way to take care of the chores I hate most... particularly cleaning the kitchen. Its all about the times of give and take... and more giving!
At the end of some days, it keeps our love in a happier place. I also feel more at peace since I'm not brooding over how I've been wronged.
A Spiritual Life Together is More Confusing Than I Thought
All of my previous life, it was a party of two: me and God. A two way street, pretty simple in terms of directional flow. Now I'm in this triangle situation, with only one component being the perfect one. The rest of us are at different levels and different understandings of spirituality. To be honest, sometimes I'm confused on how this is supposed to work.
We both are supposed to draw closer to God, the top vertices. The hardest part is being able to draw towards God, linked together as a pair. We have established a small prayer routine that we haven't wavered from since the beginning, but the question is how do we deepen our spiritually together? How do we ultimately become saints? It's very much possible, because look at Sts. Louis and Zellie Martin!
For one, I need to practice leaving more of it to God. I kept thinking that I needed to encourage a deeper spiritually between us. God knows exactly where Eric is at, and what he needs. I can do nothing for Eric by trying to understand and work with his spiritual state. Rather, I need to ask Him to do one thing: To make Eric into the man God wants him to be. I'm not going to pray that he has patience, kindness, or any other virtue I think he might need. God will tug on the rope that connects them, in whatever fashion is best. The same goes for me. God will bring me closer to Him in His own time, with whatever tools speak to me most.
As for the both of us, we must simply pray together as much as we can, and keep our eyes on God; even if it is out of obligation. I know that our life and marriage together will contain everything we need for growth. Whether its children, medical school, residency, home life, finances, losses, or gains, each event will come with sufficient graces and lessons for the both of us to learn by. God will provide everything.
So my job now is to continue learning how to love him better and to cherish every moment with him. Someday, I may not be able to get angry at him for not taking out the trash and making the house smell like a landfill. I may not be able to appreciate how much room he takes up in the bed, or be able to hang up the ties he loving leaves for me on the closet floor. I won't waste my energy on the little things, and I will try my best to remember that the world isn't ending because we had a bad fight. I love him for who he is now, and I want to be there with him for who God teaches him to be. I think back occasionally on the other life choices I would have made for myself otherwise. I can assure you that none of them would bring me as much peace or joy.