Tag Archive: trials

In my work preparing couples for marriage, I have had to account for the unexpected implosion of a marriage where I was once part of the preparation. Sometimes I hear about the troubles first hand, other times when I see one of them meeting with the Nullity Minister. It saddens me every time when those couples who looked and acted so much in love, and desired to dedicate their whole lives to one another in sacramental marriage; give up and quit. I feel I have an investment in each and every couple. I connect with them, and give my whole heart in the work God has called me to.

The work of marriage however, is the couple’s work to do together for the benefit of their own souls, their family, and for society. The work they do will effect generations for good or bad and ultimately the whole world. We see this lived out in today’s culture when parents don’t take seriously their duty to raise up responsible, moral, hard-working future citizens. Those children left to their own devices, can easily become everyone’s problem. Choosing themselves and their personal happiness over working things out with a spouse, can have a devastating effect as children are left in the debris of divorce.

As in every disagreement, there is her version, his version, and the truth. I hate it when I hear cruel accusations lobbed at their spouse. Was this the same couple who cuddled on the couch in my office as we talked about marriage? What happened? What changed, or rather, what finally came to the surface and reared its ugly head? How do two people so in love that they want to be together for life, give up on each other, “fall out of love,” or cheat on their spouse?

It is easy to quit on one another- that is what the world wants and that is exactly what Satan wants! Quitting is easy, staying married is hard. One man told me “if it is this hard, then it must not be love.”
Really? Exercising is hard. What would happen if we quit on that? Just look around to see the fruit of that life style. What about our jobs? They can get pretty demanding. Should we not work? Picking produce, fermenting grapes, stocking shelves, is a real pain in the back day in and day out. No one’s talking about giving up on wine.

Love does not quit, give up, walk out, or point fingers… or lie or choose every other thing including work, children, or friends, over the beloved. Marriage is the sign that God instituted to point most to His unconditional, irrevocable, faithful, exclusive love for each of us. It reflects Christ’s love for the Church. You know Christ, the One impaled on a tree, barely clinging to life, bloody, and bruised. Perhaps there is something to learn in that icon. Love hurts. It hurts like hell sometimes. St. Teresa of Calcutta wrote, “Love to be real, it must cost, it must hurt, it must empty us of self.”

And therein lies the problem, “ self.”

Love isn’t about you, your feelings, your happiness, or unlimited fun. Love is about other. Love is giving, and pouring out without cost, or measure, or return. The word is sacrificial, because not putting me first-hurts. It takes dying to self over and over, until it becomes natural, a habit honed over time. When husband and wife do that very thing, we see such a beautiful, attractive window into God’s marvelous love for us. We desperately need this kind of witness in our world. Married couples have the power to raise up, or warp, twist, pervert, or elevate, how humanity sees God, imitates love, and understands marriage.

Almost always the couple does not make dedicated time for each other, pray together, or practice their Catholic faith regularly through attending mass. There is critical importance in placing each other above all else, of making God, faith, and prayer, a part of your daily existence. After thirty-eight years I can assure you, without God, we would not have lasted long on our own.

I have nothing to lose by being frank in writing these things sent in love, and empowered by truth. I beg you, do whatever is necessary to remain true to the vows you both made in front of God. “For I hate divorce, says the Lord…” (Malachi 2:16). I too hate divorce with all my heart. It leaves everlasting devastation in its wake. It harms children, and grandchildren for generations. It poisons those around us, it poisons how humanity thinks about marriage and a lifelong commitment, and it poisons how people think and relate to God. I have read one hundred raw testimonials from adults whose parents divorced, and the negative consequence it had, and continues to have, on how they think, and interact with others. (Primal Loss-Miller)

With God’s help and the healing power of confession, anything is possible. We believe in the God of Miracles! There is a retreat called Retrouvaille for couples who find themselves in dire straits and who are willing to do whatever it takes to seek help. It means “rediscover”. It is Catholic, but any faith can attend. I know it saves marriages, even the most horrible and seemingly UN-savable marriages.

So if you ever really loved each other, and if you are willing to let God do what He does best, then I invite you to do this, because you both deserve it. It is not magic. Nothing will change if you both are not willing to trust, love, surrender, and do the hard work.

It’s all up to you whether you are a part of a miracle, or just another statistic.


Pouring Ourselves Out

Trying to come up with an intentional and authentic name for a blog is challenging. It needs to encompass a bit of who we are, and inviting enough for further readership outside of ones own loving mother. I ended up choosing; Poured Myself Out In Gift. It is not something mind-blowing to be sure, or exclusively up  to me, but something we are ALL called to do.

Each day, each moment, each breath we are called to give ourselves for the good of others and the glory of God.

Ephesians 1:11-12 reminds us, “In him we were chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things, according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.”

“For the praise of his glory…” That line really sticks with me. How can we add anything to God?

Well, the short answer is we cannot. But through our lives, our love, our gift of our self- we can draw others to God, to show them his glory and goodness. All things are from God. The good, the beautiful, the true, the trials, and the sufferings.

We have to remember that this life is only the journey, but the journey that spans our lifetime and directs where we will end up for eternity. This is the proving grounds, the testing and the purifying of our souls to ready us for eternal joy and infinite love poured out from God.

Everything in this life is an opportunity to stretch our hearts to prepare them for more. More what? More of God’s love in heaven.

One of the ways we are stretched the most is through trials and suffering. Seems like crazy talk, I know. However it is the true and time tested way that works on human hearts. We are a tough lot. We have hard heads, proud hearts, stubborn wills. We want what we want, when we want it, and exactly how we prayed for it. We don’t like to settle for anything less than that. When God doesn’t deliver like a vending machine we doubt his love, we question his abilities and his care for us and we often reject him and go our own direction. Yet, God loves us so, and is unwilling to leave us there poking around in the darkness of our sin and stubbornness. He knows the best way for us to get to heaven and that involves the “S” word that we loathe the most…suffering.

Why does it have to be that way? “He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” (Rom 8:32) Not even Jesus was free from suffering. Not the Blessed Virgin and not us. There is purifying power in suffering and trials. These are opportunities that stretch our hearts better than anything else. Opportunities that allow for a greater capacity to accept more of God’s remarkable abundant love and goodness.

In my own life, I can look back and see that the things that hurt the absolute most were the times that I grew closer to God, prayed harder, and trusted more. They were times that stretched my heart beyond the tiny confines that I kept it safe within my chest. At the time, all I knew was pain. Physical and mental. I questioned God, I begged for answers, I was wrought in confusion. Why me? Why this? Why? At the time, I felt that I shed more tears than the ocean could hold and I know I am not finished because my life is not complete.

Stretching hurts. Pruning is uncomfortable and we feel so out of control of the situation. But that is okay. I have found that it gives us the chance to let go of the reins and hand them over to God where they belonged all along. Surrendering takes practice and the good news is that God will give us more opportunities than we want, and all the opportunities that we need.

We limit ourselves so much. Our love is stingy, we trust haltingly, and our faith is conditional. Conditional on what? On getting our way.

So what I am attempting to practice this second half of my life is to let go every chance I get. It isn’t easy, it isn’t pretty and I play tug of war with God all the time…but I am trying each day to be better at trusting and letting go.

God knows exactly what it will take to make the key that opens the door to heaven for me, and for each one of us. We need to be pliable material to let him craft us into his image, day by day and moment by moment. Let him do the work he needs to do with us. Accept the cross, as Christ his only Son did, as Mary the Blessed Mother did, pondering all the while but obedient, docile and humble.  Whining is ugly and unbecoming. The determination they displayed is an example for each one of us to follow. That narrow road is treacherous, but we are not alone and following the most famous saints in history. We can do this, we want to do this, our eternal souls need us to do this.

Hardship For God

Pope Benedict says that when the disciples through the Transfiguration “experienced ahead of time something that will constitute the happiness of paradise” These “brief experiences that God grants on occasions, especially in anticipation of harsh trials.”
God knows what we need… when we need it. Like water in the dry parched desert, He quenches our thirst and sustains us through life’s dryness, trials and difficulties.