2 friends, 2 vocations: sisterhood & married life

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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.

My attention?

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.”

My adoration?

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.”

My sacrifice?

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!

A.M.D.G.

marriage as a cross

“I’ll share in your suffering… to make you well, to make you well…” – Phillip Phillips

When I watch this music video, I can’t help but smile. The song dons some pretty idealistic and romantic thoughts. Everything just screams “emotional high! I am in love!” Besides, perhaps, that line on suffering.

You know who the media needs to admire more, though? Not those couples who are “crazy in love” all the time. Instead, I think that the media should admire people who are married and truly fight to keep their marriage strong and alive in good times and in bad. Now those are the heroes of love, the spouses laying down their life for the other, even when that sense of excitement or chemistry is just plain ole’ gone

Still being loyal to the other even when everything feels like it is falling apart. 

Still dying to self for the other even when the other seems to be going cold turkey on you. Nothing could hurt more.

As I prepare myself for marriage, it’s odd thinking of all of the harsh, cold realities that may hit my dear fiance and me. O, and my fiance and I will let one another down at times. That’s a guarantee. One day, it may even feel like there is no chemistry. On either or both ends. What we do at such times will either strengthen or weaken our shared “cross” together. 

Yes, when we get married, we will both  be picking up the “cross” of marriage. This cross will be a joy and a blessing, but also a bearer of great struggle and hardship. This cross will our source of life! This cross will be our way to Heaven! May we always kiss its wood.

sex & sexuality: a gift

Under How Many Suns

Under how many suns have we embraced
In what long fields of flowers and streets of stone
In the strong light of summer, interlaced
And made, like God, a darkness of our own.

Oh when the bitter wind of longing blows,
And all between us seems an aching space
Think that we hold each other close, so close;
We cannot even see each other’s face.

— Gilbert Keith Chesterton

…A poem by the intelligent, witty, and… yes, romantic… G.K. Chesterton.

The first stanza mentions a “darkness of our own,” and I initially asked myself, “What ‘darkness’ does God make? That’s impossible: He’s all light!” I then realized that darkness here does not refer to evil. Rather, “darkness” here is one not only “made” (as Chesterton describes) but begotten: the MYSTERY of the most INTENSE union of three Divine persons in one God!

Yes, the Trinity is the deepest intimacy that will EVER exist: an eternal exchange of love between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And the Trinitarian mystery of God is “dark” to our unenlightened human mind on this side of Eden.

Similar to the Trinity, my dear fiancé and I have also created a “darkness of our own,” an intimate world such as that to which Chesterton alludes. We, too, are “close, so close,” that our begotten “darkness” is hidden to everyone else, just as the Trinity is to mankind.

The inside jokes. The little quirks we take joy about in one another. Our couple habits, rituals, and traditions. Our shared past-times and interests, the things that only we know about one another. The rhythm of that ebb and flow of our shared days, one after another, marked out by our prayer-life…!

And as a long-distance couple, O, have we known that “bitter wind of longing” and that “aching space” mentioned in the second stanza! Moreover, that “aching space” can also refer to our joint striving towards chastity. 

To be honest, there are indeed moments when we desire to give all of ourselves to one another, body and heart, in the so-called ‘marital embrace’ (a nice euphemism for sex). The relationship’s MYSTERY can just feel so INTENSE sometimes; the other person’s personal mystery can feel so intense, too, that you just want to be one united, body and soul. 

As Blessed Pope John Paul II spoke of in the “Theology of the Body,” God has designed the human body and the human heart in such a way that when a man and a woman are in love, they strongly desire, to the core, to gives themselves to one another in totality. Yet a ‘total’ exchange of self to the other can only happen in the context of marriage, due to the unique design of sacramental marriage!

Human sex and sexuality is indeed a gift from God. God wills our good by giving it to us, and it is our privilege and duty to offer it back to Him via living chaste lives as according to our state in life. For instance, chastity looks different if you are dating/engaged vs married.

When my fiancé and I are affronted by that “aching space” Chesterton mentions, we try our best to remember, in joy, that saying a firm “No” to pre-marital physical desires is actually exclaiming a resounding “Yes!” to one another and to God.  

By trying to live chastely, it is our prayer that we are saying “I love you” as the Italians say it: “Ti voglio bene!”—literally, “I will your good.”

basstreble

engaged

[NOTE] Anyone reading this who may think, “Well, it’s too late for me,” remember: Satan lives in the past and in the future, but JESUS lives in the Present Moment, and His love and His mercy extends to us ALL. JESUS wants you to heal, to be integrated and whole!