Forgetting something. It’s always bothered me. I think because it’s a passive act. It feels like it’s out of your control (I didn’t intentionally ignore my friend’s birthday) but yet you also know that you could have done something more to remind yourself (cue smart phones and sticky notes). A priest once told me that some of the early Church Fathers described the original sin of humanity as being the sin of forgetfulness. Adam and Eve forgot who God is and subsequently forgot who they were. They forgot that God is their all-loving Creator and instead they gave into fear and mistrust. This resonated with me. So often I forget things that I’ve already learned. Sometimes I flip back in my journal and surprise myself when I read some thought or meditation that must have been divinely inspired. Right before I start congratulating myself on being so wise I realize I have since effectively forgotten it and not integrated it into my life whatsoever.
God’s Gift for Me
This happened to me today when I opened my journal and flipped to the pages I had written while on silent retreat the weekend before I was married. My spiritual director had instructed me to meditate upon the the Rite of Marriage (the prayers, the vows, etc.) as well as the readings we chose for our Nuptial Mass. While reflecting on the Gospel reading (John 15:12-16) I kept coming back to the words “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” I started thinking about how God had chosen Nathan and me, how it was God who brought us together and called us to the sacrament of marriage. Early on in our relationship it dawned on me that Nathan was the first guy that God had really chosen for me versus me picking someone out and saying: “I want him.” He wasn’t “my type,” I wasn’t sure, and I almost said no when he asked me out on a date except that I distinctly sensed the Holy Spirit asking me to be open so I said yes, albeit with some hesitation. Then a funny thing happened. Over the next few weeks as I got to know this mystery man, I was surprised and delighted by what I found. I felt as if God was slowly unwrapping a special gift right before my eyes. I began to experience a great peace and had a clear sense that God was orchestrating our relationship.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide ~Jn. 15:16
So as I sat reflecting on Jesus’ words “I chose you,” that would be read at our wedding in a few days, I recalled these memories and others that had served as stepping stones in my discernment process ultimately leading me to answer the call to the vocation of marriage and choose Nathan to be my husband. There is great hope and confidence in this truth that God chose us — my husband and me. When our differences in personality prove challenging, even painful, there is hope in the knowledge that this is God’s will for me. God has chosen for me a man who is practical, logical, who jokingly claims to “have no emotions” — someone for whom my sentimental, emotional, feeling self does not always make sense. And yet, this is who God has chosen for me and thus, this precise difference has a purpose and is ultimately for our good.
On the Road to Calvary, Together
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how many times I have already forgotten this in the three short months that we have been married. How easy it is to take offense and lament that my husband “just doesn’t understand me!” while the Enemy is only too glad to seize the opportunity to scatter little seeds of doubt and mistrust. Thankfully God always brings me back to my senses. That is, once I stop being stubborn and actually let Him come into my clouded mind, turn on the light, and ever so gently remind me of the truth. God chose me to be Nathan’s wife. God chose Nathan to be my husband. By a free act of our wills we said yes and entered into the sacramental covenant of marriage. This is our vocation and the path to sanctity that God has laid out for us. The path to sanctity is not a level path through meadows of daffodils. It is the steep, rocky road to Calvary. But here’s the trick: when we embrace suffering out of love for another what appears to be a miserable road on the outside becomes a beautiful rose-lined path in our eyes. At least that’s what the saints say and they tend to know what they’re talking about.
So when the next marital misunderstanding arises I’m hoping against hope that I will not fall prey to my forgetfulness, but will rather remember that God chose this man for me, that these differences in personality have a good purpose, that I am called to love Nathan selflessly and I should be jumping at the chance to suffer the loss of my ego for his sake. I’ll admit, there’s a voice inside my head right now telling me how naive I am to write such a thing, as if from now on I’m going to handle every disagreement perfectly. To that I will say: isn’t God in the business of working miracles and wouldn’t we be better off if we had more faith in His power to overcome sin in us? Yet I also know that conversion is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. So here’s to taking it one day at a time, believing that we’re made to be saints, that it really is possible–and surprisingly concrete. So I think I’ll go put a sticky note on the bathroom mirror saying: “I chose you.” You got to start somewhere, right?