What Nobody Tells You About Getting Married

You’ve probably heard that marriage can be difficult. I’m sure you’ve heard that at times your spouse will drive you crazy, that eventually the “honeymoon” will be over, and that’s when the real work involved in love will begin.

Love, after all, is an action, and not merely a feeling.

Well, if you’ve heard all of that, then maybe you also need to hear this:

Marriage is actually supposed to be awesome. Like, really, really wonderful.

I realize that it’s frustrating when it seems like the world doesn’t take marriage or love seriously enough. Marriage is supposed to be this sacred, lifelong union of two people, each no longer living for themselves, but living for one another. And yet it seems like so many people just cut and run when the going gets a little rough.

(It seems that way. But the truth is that this is probably rarely, if ever, truly the case with failed marriages.)

Do we really think that anyone gets married these days unaware of the fact that marriage will be hard at times? We may not get much right about marriage as a society, but the fact of it being difficult is something we’ve had pretty well beaten into our collective subconscious. Honestly, it is a wonder that people still get married at all with all of our talk about the difficulties of marriage!

The fact is that people know that marriage is going to be difficult. Yet people choose to get married anyway. It seems to me that the problem is not so much that we aren’t preparing people for how *difficult* marriage is going to be. I think the problem is that, with all of this talk and all of the emphasis put on the difficulties and the *work* involved to make a marriage work, we don’t give people enough of a reason to hold out for a relationship that is actually worth building a marriage on.

What nobody tells you about marriage is that it is supposed to be awesome. Building a life together with someone you love and who loves you…Growing up and growing old together with someone who gets to know you better than anyone else in the world…Having someone to talk to when you need a friend, a shoulder to cry on, and someone who encourages you to keep growing, keep trying, and for whom you get to do the same.

Marriage is amazing! Or at least, it is supposed to be.

It is also true that all marriages will take work. All of us are imperfect and will inevitably fall short of what I just described above. But it is possible to choose someone with whom you will maybe have to work just a bit harder at marriage (or even considerably harder), than another couple who are perhaps better suited for one another. Marriage takes work, but I hate to say that it is possible to make a poor decision to marry someone with whom the work might be unnecessarily grueling.

That’s ok. It’s not the end of the world. It is, in my mind, not a reason for divorce. I believe that your spouse is, for better or for worse, absolutely and unquestionably “the one,” because your spouse is “the one” you promised to love, honor, and be faithful to for as long as you both shall live. Difficult marriages can still be totally happy and totally loving; they just may take a little bit (or a lot) more heavy lifting to get there.

I think we put emphasis on the work of marriage because we assume we’re talking to an audience of only-married people.  Maybe we’re subconsciously talking to our own parents who called it quits when we wish they had stuck it out. Or maybe we’re talking to ourselves after going through an infamous “rough patch” in marriage.

But we need to be careful with putting too much emphasis on the work and the hardships. Because listening too are those who are trying to figure out whether or not they should marry a specific person. They hear us and all of our talk about the work marriage takes, and they wonder,

If love is all choice and not about feelings, then maybe I should just ignore this anxiety I feel about this person with whom I’m discerning marriage. After all, I liked them when we started dating, and feelings fade, right? 

The truth is that while it is important to be willing to put in the work involved in marriage, the person with whom you choose to do the work is even more important. Maybe that seems like an obvious point to make, but I think it’s worth emphasizing. Marriage is a vocation in which you are called to devote yourself to a specific person, not simply to an abstract state.

So, to the young couple who is not yet married, please know: Your relationship shouldn’t be full of hard work, not yet.

Will you have rough patches, even when dating? 

Yes. It’s not that you won’t have to “work” at your relationship prior to marriage. You’re both human, which means that even when dating you’ll have to learn how to handle one another’s shortcomings. But how you handle those rough patches is telling. Does your handling it make you love (and even, like) the other person more? Or is it just another chance to say, “Oh well, all relationships take work!”

Does the thought of marrying this person fill you with overwhelming excitement?

It should! I think sometimes it’s possible to fall for someone initially, and want it to work out so badly that you can ignore that your feelings for them have changed as you’ve gotten to know them better. Well look, you’re not married. If you don’t actually like this person as much as you thought you would, you’re under no obligation to “stick it out.” In fact if you already feel this way, you’ll be doing this person a favor by breaking it off so you can each find people you’re actually over the moon excited to spend your life with.

Will you get to the stage where your spouse annoys you?

They tell me yes, but I’m honestly not there yet with Tyler (we’re just shy of five years married though, so I guess we’ve got time 😉 ). But, if you’re only dating someone and you already find them annoying in all sorts of little ways, it is not going to get easier when you get married.

Marriage won’t fix your problems. It will just mean you’re stuck with them, which is both exciting and scary. So choose someone with whom you work well, and even though marriage will still take work, it’ll also be awesome. I promise. 🙂

Can Catholics “Pray Over” People? Answering 3 Objections to the “Laying On Of Hands”

I grew up in a very “charismatic” family. To me, though, we were just Catholic.

As far as I was concerned, everybody who was Catholic went to mass on Sundays, listened to Scott Hahn tapes (yes, TAPES) on long car rides, and had grandfathers who would pray over people, receive words of prophecy, and experience God manifesting physical healings through the laying on of hands.

It wasn’t until I grew up and met other devout Catholics that I learned that there are some within the Church who are not on board with the “style” of prayer on which I was raised. There are those who view laypeople praying over one another as maybe not-totally-ok or perhaps even not in line with Church teaching.

Well listen here, y’all. There is nothing in Scripture or in Church teaching that prohibits laypeople from laying hands on one another and asking for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Not a thing. I promise.

When you look this up, the closest “objection” from any official Church teaching you’ll find is to point out that praying over someone is not the same thing as a sacrament. There is a difference between a layperson praying over someone and a bishop conferring the sacrament of confirmation, or a priest giving absolution. Of course, those in the Charismatic Renewal will be the first to tell you this. We need the sacraments. Praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is something we should all be doing regularly as Christians, in addition to receiving the sacraments.

But because praying over people is still sometimes seen as “weird” or “not ok” in some Catholic circles, I wanted to write to answer some common objections I’ve encountered over the years.

 “God Doesn’t *Need* You To Lay Your Hands On Someone”

This is absolutely true. God can work miracles in whichever way He pleases, and He is certainly not bound to our physical actions. There is nothing *magical* about physically laying your hands on someone to pray for them.

Still, there is no denying that throughout Salvation History, God employs physical means to carry out His Divine power. We see this from the very beginning. Adam is formed from the dust of the ground, Eve is taken from his rib. In Exodus, Moses must hold his arms in the air in order for the Israelites to defeat the Amalekites in battle. When his arms inevitably grow tired, Aaron and Hur have to come to his side to hold his arms for him, because when they drop, the Amalekites begin to win the battle. It seems so arbitrary (and how foolish they must have looked!). Surely God could’ve told Moses that all He needed to do was pray fervently and silently for the duration of the battle—but for whatever reason, that’s not what God wanted. Even in Jesus’ ministry, He heals a blind man with spittle and dirt. Surely He didn’t need either, but for some reason, Jesus used physical matter to do His Father’s work.

Of course God doesn’t need us to lay our hands over every person we pray for, but if He asks you to, will you?

“It’s ‘Too Showy’”

This one goes with the previous objection, and perhaps even gives some context for it. Yes, praying over someone makes a bit of a scene. And to some extent that’s probably the point.

Laying your hands on someone to pray for them is a physical witness to your belief in the power of God. When you lay your hands on someone and ask for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, you’re saying that you believe that God will answer when He is called upon. You’re counting on Him to show up, right then and there. You’re not demanding for Him to do so, of course, but as Christians we believe our God is faithful, good, and loving to His children. Why wouldn’t we expect Him to show up?

This is not presumption. It’s faith. God may not answer our prayers in the way we expect or want Him to, but God answers the prayers of His children.

“It Ought To Be About The Giver, Not The Gifts”

I agree with this. And I think most people I’ve met who pray over others agree with it, too.

The thing is, the Giver wants to bestow His gifts on us. Sometimes we’d prefer that He did not, as His gifts are often heavy crosses that seem impossible to bear. But as we progress in holiness, we learn that it is when we embrace these crosses that we come closest to Jesus.

Ironically, many who raise this objection of “Giver and not Gifts” to those in the Charismatic Renewal are among the first to point out that we should not reject the gifts of God when they are crosses, but for whatever reason these same people struggle to accept that God also might have sweet gifts of charisms of the Spirit to bestow on His children, too. Well, just as “charismatic” Catholics must be cautious of not becoming distracted by gifts of the Spirit, so should “traditional” Catholics be cautious of rejecting the gifts God wants to bestow on them in the name of fear masquerading as a kind of false piety.

To be honest, I’ve found myself leaning towards both directions at different points in my life. The fact is that we need to embrace all the gifts God has for us, simply because He wants us to have them.

Conclusion

So rest assured, my friends. There is nothing “unCatholic” about praying over one another! It is completely in keeping with Scripture and with Church teaching.

By the way, if you’re new to this “style” of prayer–or even if you’re not!– I highly encourage you to check out “The Wild Goose Is Loose” produced by 4PM media. It is a great overview and introduction to praying to and with the Holy Spirit!

In the Name of Jesus

 

Whenever evil is committed in the name of some religion, we’re told to conclude that all religions are essentially the same. Religion serves only to divide us and to spread messages of fear and hatred.

But the Gospel is GOOD news. It is life-giving. We see this in today’s first reading:

“Leaders of the people and elders:
If we are being examined today
about a good deed done to a cripple,
namely, by what means he was saved,
then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.

There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

 

Jesus was murdered. He was killed in the name of pride masquerading as religious piety. The religious leaders were afraid to arrest Him in broad daylight because they were afraid they’d have an angry mob on their hands, so they did it under the cover of night. They were threatened by Jesus’ following, so they sought to stamp out this “Jesus thing” by killing Jesus and thereby silencing His followers once and for all. They put guards at the tomb because they were afraid His followers would try to pull one over on them.

But Jesus rose anyway.

He came back to life–can you imagine the civil war that could have sprung from this event? 

Yet the Apostles do not retaliate evil for evil. The Gospel is not spread through fear and intimidation. Jesus’ followers do not go around killing in His name.

They go about healing in the name of Jesus. They go about preaching a Gospel of LIFE.

And this wasn’t just some clever “PR-strategy,” by the way. The apostles weren’t going around preaching a gospel of “can’t we all just get along?” They were healing and preaching eternal life in the name of Jesus Christ. And for that last bit, they were threatened, tortured, and killed.

It’s a pretty hard sell actually, “Join our religion! Heal the blind! Make the lame walk! –And be killed for it!”

Yet they went about healing and spreading life anyway, because that is who our God is. That is who Jesus is. The apostles were compelled to tell the world that the God who created us calls us to newness of life.

It is Jesus who heals. It is Jesus who gives life.

There is no salvation through anyone else–that is not a threat, it is simply the truth. And it is GOOD NEWS!

 

 

Back My Husband’s Kickstarter!

You learn a lot about your spouse in the first few years of marriage.

We were just over a year into ours when my husband learned that I can’t hold onto a pair of sunglasses longer than a month. Being the entrepreneurial guy that he is, a startup was born.

Shades Republic exists to take the hassle out of buying and replacing sunglasses!

Click the image to check out the Kickstarter.

If you like it, back it, and share!

A Contemporary(ish) Playlist For Holy Week

I put together a playlist of some more contemporary(ish) songs to pray along with during this Holy Week! There is soo much out there to choose from so I obviously couldn’t include everything, but below is what I came up with.

Anything you’d add?

Hosanna – Hillsong

“I see His love and mercy washing over all our sin / The people sing, “Hosanna!”

Come As You Are – Crowder

“Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been / Come broken hearted, let rescue begin / Come find your mercy, O sinner come near / Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal”

Jesus – Chris Tomlin

“There is one born for our salvation, Jesus”

Letting Go – Matt Maher

“I stand in awe of You, and everything You’ve done for me.”

Dry Bones – Gungor 

“My soul cries out for you … Jesus you’re the one who saves us / Constantly creates us…Surely our Messiah will make all things new”

Love Has Come – Matt Maher

“Love has come to show the way”

Lead Me To The Cross – Hillsong

“Lead me to the Cross, where your love poured out”

Cry Out To Jesus – Third Day

“There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary, and love for the broken heart / There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing / He’ll meet you wherever you are / Cry out to Jesus”

Watch The Lamb – Ray Boltz

“‘Daddy, Daddy, what will we see there? There’s so much that we don’t understand.’ So I told them of Moses and Father Abraham. And /i said, ‘Dear children, watch the Lamb'”

The Old Rugged Cross – Alan Jackson

“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down / And I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown”

Thy Will – Hillary Scott

“Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is, ‘Thy Will Be Done’ “

Amazing Love – The Newsboys

“I’m forgiven because you were forsaken. / I’m accepted because you were condemned”

Were You There – feat. Andrea Thomas

“O, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”