One of my best friends, Melissa, is an “aspirant” in a religious order, meaning she is preparing to become a fully-vowed religious sister one day (there are a series of vows over many years). Similarly, I am engaged, preparing to become a Christian wife this upcoming April.
Recently, I was looking at pics of Melissa, who now lives in a convent (and has an apostolate chockfull of various duties, such as teaching). I saw her radiant smile shining the love of Jesus! JESUS: her all-in-all, her MAN… the Son of God made man! There she was, in her beautiful uniform. Radiant. In every picture.
The pictures had me thinking… I feel like I was sorta a “wannabe” religious sister before I met my fiancé. Simply put, the entirety of my days revolved around Our Lord. Much of my time was devoted to Him. Because I was single, it was easier to have a more singular focus on my spiritual walk with and worship of Jesus.
When I was 25, dating for the first time had me feeling very odd at first. I was jolted into another way of existing: loving Jesus, but also loving a human man like I love Jesus.
Dating meant making time for daily Mass, holy hours, and morning/noon/evening/night prayer and as well as for daily significant-other conversation, date nights, and relationship building.
So much was new to me: talking out misunderstandings like there was no tomorrow, making surprise brownies like it was a sacred duty, entrusting to this young man my vulnerabilities when I had never laid them out to anyone.
I began to see that Matt deserved my attention, adoration, and sacrifice as Jesus did, albeit in different ways. My new mission was not just to love my perfect Jesus, but also to love an imperfect man in His name. And to be trusting enough to let Matt love an even-more-imperfect me.
Gazing at the radiant smile of my “sister-in-training” friend, Melissa, the presence of the Son of God Made Man could not be more apparent with her. And, after reflecting, I can see how Jesus is present in my relationship with my purely human man as well. I have not left Jesus. In loving Matt, I am loving Jesus in new ways that I have not loved Him before.
In dating / courtship and engagement, my love for Jesus been put to the test! In the past two and a half years, I have tasted the decisive love of the Cross in unforeseen ways. Ultimately, I have learned that with grace, with the life of Jesus within, selfless love is possible to give as well as to receive.
To decrease on myself, and to increase on Matt. My Ultimate Question: “How can I serve him better?” In serving Matt, I serve Our Lord!
John 3:30 reads: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
On Matt’s personhood, his manhood: on his being made in the image and likeness of God. And as the man in our future marriage, on his being our image of Christ: my spiritual “head” to whom I am to “submit” or to “be subject.” On respecting and adoring Matt as a son of God, I am respecting and adoring Our Lord!
Ephesians 5:22-23 reads: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”
To lay my life down for Matt. Every. Single. Moment.
John 15:13 reads: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
The two biggest differences between my friend who is in the convent and me?
FIRST. Jesus will be my friend’s “head” while Matt will be mine. He will be my head, I will be his body. Matt and I will be an indivisible team, united by God as “one flesh”! In the ups and he downs, the joys and the sorrows. Together, we will reflect the entirety of Jesus; we will also reflect Jesus the Groom with His Bride, the Church.
SECOND. My friend will have Christ as her “husband” to sanctify her and lead her to Heaven. On the contrary, Matt’s and my shared mission as husband and wife is to sanctify one another via loving one another with the unconditional love of Jesus. And, get this: it is only when we are BOTH alive in Jesus that He will be able to lead us as “one flesh” into Heaven. I am accountable for Matt’s soul and Christian discipleship as well as my for own. And as for our possible future children: we will also be accountable for them so long as they are in our care. These duties are not to be taken lightly!
It is always so fun to receive a letter from Melissa, or to call her, or to meet up with her. Girl talk abounds; but the funny thing is, we could just as easily call it “vocation talk”!
“Vocation” comes from the Latin word “vocare,” meaning “to call.” As Melissa and I follow the Lord’s call in our respective vocational journeys, it is a sight to behold the parallels in our shared calling to Christian discipleship. Although we have two very different vocations, we have more similarities than we can imagine! For at the root of both of our vocations is the Cross, on which hung our sweet and powerful King, Jesus.
What an adventure life has been for both of us, and what more adventure awaits!