My brain has been on overload lately. Between the HHS mandate and the Komen debacle it's been hard to think of anything else. And so I sit down to type out a new blog, and stare blankly at the computer screen for half an hour and finally opt to post cute pictures of the girls or a cute story, because my brain is so full that I can't seem to get a coherent thought to transmit from my brain to my typing finger tips.
I even tried to go back and find something old that I could repost, but nothing looked vaguely appropriate, maybe because I couldn't figure out what I was looking for to begin with.
One idea for a post has been rolling around in my head these past few days, as we led up to Valentine's Day, and perhaps it will lead somewhere coherent by the time I've finished writing. Here goes!
And those words always take me back to my own engagement six years ago and I think about how not ready I was, from an outsiders perspective (or really any practical perspective!) and then I think of how the last six years have unfolded.
Six years ago I hadn't gone to church regularly for years. I had thought I was agnostic for a while, and then went through a phase, that lasted for a couple years, where I read everything I could find about Buddhism. While I had passed through those two phases, I hadn't yet rediscovered any sort of faith that would ground me, or transform my life. Any prayers I sent up felt half hearted and brittle. I was irresponsible with my spending and had a ton of credit card debt, my poor roommate was tortured by my seeming inability to not be a slob, and while it was true that I was very much in love I was also pretty self centered.
Paul and I had been dating for 4 1/2 months when he proposed. I said yes instantly. And I know that plenty of the people who knew us, thought that we were insane. Some couldn't manage to say congratulations or even pretend to be happy. Others, like a close friend who ended up being my maid-of-honor, trusted my judgement, met Paul and loved him, and was completely supportive. But the majority seemed pretty sure that the marriage wouldn't work. After all. They looked at us and saw that we: "Just weren't ready." I had one, not so well meaning person, say that if I got married I would just be on my way to being the next "ex-mrs. so and so..."
And at the time I certainly felt ready.
You see, there was one thing I knew without a doubt. I'd met the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. He felt the same way. I trusted that somehow, the rest of the details would work themselves out.
Looking back on the girl I was six years ago, the logical part of my brain would have to have agreed with the naysayers. I was in love, but immature and irresponsible. I was that girl living in the SF Bay with torn jeans and a neck tattoo (sometimes I wish I could smack my then self upside the head and say "a neck tattoo! Seriously! What were you thinking?!?!?!?").
How could it possibly work?
Fast forward six years. We married a year to the day after we went on our first date. I converted to Catholicism, initially beginning the process because I wanted to attend the same Church as my husband, but somewhere along the way finding amazing truths that answered the questions that had begun my stint as an agnostic my sophomore year in college.
The grace of the sacraments flooded into our lives. It happened so quickly, and so dramatically, that it's hard to pick out exact moments when things began to change. I know that praying the rosary was a huge part of my conversion. We learned about and began following the Church's teaching on contraception. And we both read everything we could about our faith.
It wasn't easy, because marriage, especially starting out, isn't meant to be easy. For those of us who are called to marriage as a vocation, it's meant to be our path towards God. And our path towards God, regardless of our vocation, is many things, but easy isn't generally one of them. We aren't drawn towards holiness by gliding through life without a care.
As husband and wife we're meant to help each other, and our children, towards God. And so, with baby steps, carried along by grace, I began to "grow up." Without that grace, the naysayers probably would have been right. With grace, showered in prayer from our new parish, our lives were transformed.
We still have a long way to go. After all the path to holiness is never easy. But I'm so glad that I listened to the tiny voice in my heart that said that this was the right path for us and that he was the man I was supposed to marry. It has transformed us both in ways I never could have imagined. And I have a feeling that, without the sacramental grace I've received since we married, I likely still wouldn't "be ready" and would probably hardly be much more "grown up" than I was six years ago.
So if you've ever wondered what to say to someone who is getting married, who you believe shouldn't be... "congratulations" is a good place to start (if your really, really close to the person... like a parent or a best friend... you can broach concerns... but for the most part, those who aren't very, very close to a person should stick to this answer). And after that, pray for them. Pray long and hard. Ask God to shower his graces down upon their hearts. Maybe they aren't ready. But maybe he will take the vocation that they've stumbled into and turn it into something amazing.