I didn’t expect to feel sadness at a wedding.
Anything near tears, I assumed, would come from the overwhelming joy of seeing a good friend get married. And while I was definitely happy, I was startled by the profound loneliness that pervaded my heart, even as I sat in a pew with beloved friends and was surrounded by many people I knew. Grateful that my friend was receiving that for which she had long prayed, I discovered a sorrow that I didn’t want to find at that time or in that place. The human heart frequently seems inconvenient, but I’ve found that leaning into that is more helpful than ignoring it.
Near the beginning of the liturgy, I heard the priest proclaim a single word in the midst of a longer prayer. He said “home” and I was immediately asking the Lord where my home was. Looking over the priest’s head, I saw the crucifix, arms stretched wide and side pierced, and within myself I heard Him say that my home was there. In His side, opened so that mercy could pour out, was my home, my refuge, the only place I belonged on either side of Heaven.
As my blog slowly moves from being thoroughly unread to something that people I know and don’t know read, I find myself hesitant to ever speak of being single. Some of my former students occasionally look at my blog as do co-workers, and it feels odd to share this particularly deep desire, even if it seems obvious or assumed or commonplace. Yet it also feels odd to share so many other parts of my heart and then withhold speaking of the vocation I feel called to, simply because God hasn’t fully answered that prayer.
I’m a melancholic and as such I am accustomed to longing. One of the most enduring longings has been for marriage and a family. It isn’t my only desire, but it is the one that seems the most fervent. This newly married friend is one I often spoke of this longing with, as we questioned when it would be fulfilled and wondered how it would happen. So I understand to a degree why this wedding also filled my heart with a bit of sadness. It was because my compatriot had what she longed for and I was still waiting, still hoping, still wondering when and if it would happen.
Continue reading “Whatever God Chooses Should Be All the Same to Us”
During “contemplative time” last week, I had my students reflect on the Resurrection account from John’s Gospel. Fresh from my own ponderings, we discussed the whole “John as the one whom Jesus loved” bit.
“Doesn’t Jesus love everyone?”
Yes, of course.
“Why does John even bring it up?”
I mentioned that perhaps it was because John had encountered the particularity of Christ’s love for him.
And they brought up something that is ingrained in us from our earliest years: the sense of things being equal or the same.
“Doesn’t Jesus love us all the same, though?”
No, He actually doesn’t. They seemed skeptical, perhaps because we automatically begin to assume that Jesus might love me less if He doesn’t love us all the same.
Continue reading “Particular Love”
I grew up hearing the love stories of my parents and grandparents. My parents knew of each other throughout their youth, since they were both from two large families in the same town, with many of their siblings being in the same grades. When my mom was trying to avoid a young man who was interested in her, she chose to sit with my dad at a graduation reception. That event turned into dates (my dad saying my mom begged him and my mom saying that my dad asked for a date) and eventually a relationship, with a breakup to ensure my mom had found the right man. She had.
My paternal grandparents met in a “romantic” meat-packing plant. After a couple dates, my grandpa proposed and six months later they were married. They were together for over sixty years, until my grandmother passed away from lung cancer. My maternal grandparents met at a dance and my grandma’s brother asked my grandpa to drive her home. The rest seemed to be history–marriage shortly followed and a brood of children. Over sixty years later and they are still married, my grandpa cracking jokes and my grandma still thinking he isn’t funny.
My mom and grandmas all got married fairly young. At times, it is easy for me to begin to do the calculations. “If I was my mother…..I would be married, with a toddler and another baby due in a couple months.” These thoughts aren’t really comforting, nor are they intended to be. Instead, they instill a sense of urgency, a feeling that I am missing out. It’s the all-too-dreaded ticking of the biological clock. It is enough to make me panic, even as others around me are saying, “You’re young, you have plenty of time.”
The other day I came to a greater realization of life. At times a relationship and marriage dominate much of my thoughts and desires. But marriage is only a means to an end. If the goal is Heaven, marriage is meant to get me there. Life is meant to be spent striving for spiritual perfection and Heaven. That mission is one that relates to me now. No, I don’t have a beau or a marriage to invest in. Yet if God knows everything, He must have intended this time to be used for something other than just waiting for my life to start, because it has clearly already begun.
Someday I hope to have a story of how I met my husband. Inevitably, it will be different than my mother’s story. Yet I’ve been blessed to have experiences and adventures that my mother did not have. Even as I desire a life of wedded bliss, I strive to embrace my present state in life so that I will be prepared for the next state and for the next life.