Tag Archives: Spiritual Warfare

Taking out the Trash: A Single Girl’s Meditation on the Salvific Vocation of Marriage

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BY RACHEL

This is a tricky blog post because part of me feels like I don’t actually have the right to say these things. (Reesa, you will have to stand as arbiter, OK?)

I’ve posted a couple of times this year about my Junior class’ study of Pride and Prejudice. From some combination of Jane Austening for three months and the amazing insights shared by my recently married friends, I have come to (and/or shamelessly poached) some thoughts. Most of these revelations may be really obvious to people who are not me. If that is the case, I’m sorry!

1. Marriage is a vocation. (No. Duh.) Vocation is not about what makes you feel good, but about God calling you closer to Him. The point of marriage is for each spouse to help the other to get to heaven.

This much I kind of already knew. The new part came in when talking to my many recently married friends. Suddenly I was given a brand new picture about how one person can bring another to God. In P&P, Darcy brings Lizzy closer to heaven by correcting her vision of other people; Lizzy does the same by correcting Darcy’s behavior. (This much seemed to totally justify the Rom Com cliché of “fixing” another person.) Because of these corrections they fall in love and get married. The End! Right? The part that I, and I think possibly many others, have forgotten is that even in the book, Lizzy and Darcy are not done. The real correction happens within the marriage, and we as readers don’t get to see very much. Because it is kind of none of our business.

2. In marriage, man and woman become one flesh. I was thinking about that colossal statement…. and this is where my brain gets tangent-y, pseudoscientific, and hard to follow, so bear with me:

So far as I understand it, our habits actually shape our brain. By performing actions, we help our neurons to shape pathways that we will use as our basis of operating. We get used to actions by repeating them. Discomfort that exists the first few times we do anything new becomes less as we perform the action over and over. This much is true of both good habits and sins. In our habitual sins, we physically (because our brain is physical) get used to it. We get mental calluses.

However, if my future husband and I are becoming one flesh, then on my wedding day, I am handing him all the habits I have formed. Into that bargain come the gifts and wonderful things probably signed up for in the lovey dovey dating stage, but also ALL THE SINS. Now he gets to care for and carry them too.

Except that Future Spouse Man (That is, of course, his superhero name… I haven’t figured out his secret identity just yet) doesn’t have the right calluses. He has the calluses from his own sins, but at the wedding I am handing him a whole new basket full of sins that he may never have struggled with before. Happy Wedding Day, Darling!

3. I am pretty sure that this very cruel process is exactly how spouses get each other to heaven. Not just by chastising or preaching, but by loving, being loved, and suffering. (Not having yet experienced this, I can really only talk about it in theory and from observation, but I think I can see a little of this in how my students helped me this year.)

Because I loved them and I knew how much my anger and impatience could (and occasionally did) hurt them, I made greater efforts than I ever have in the realm of patience. It is not that my anger and impatience weren’t hurting my soul before. I had simply become used to it. My students were a blessing precisely because they were raw little nerve endings.

I think that marriage might work the same way on a much greater scale, because at the wedding, we hand over our every sin in one go to a person whom we love and cherish. Then we spend a lifetime watching our sins hurt them. I cannot think of a stronger motivator to STOP SINNING!

4. This idea has actually been the most helpful thing to my spiritual life in a really long time. I know that I will be handing over a Hefty bag of spiky, painful, heavy sins to my husband on my wedding day. 24-years of habits have pretty much guaranteed that.

However, I can start taking out the trash RIGHT NOW. I may not feel the burden of my sins anymore, but I can at least imagine what it would feel like to see him feel their weight for the first time.

So, Dear Future Spouse Man, a few things: (1) I am sorry in advance, but these suckers are gonna hurt. (2) I’m working on it! (3) Thank You.

Spiritual Warfare of Valentine’s Day: The Lie of Specialness

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BY Rachel

Does anyone remember that Drew Barrymore movie, Never Been Kissed? In it, she plays (apparently) the ONLY fully grown adult who has ever made it to maturity with the crippling deformity of never being kissed. This (of course) means that she becomes a crazy, grammar-obsessed, crocheting, cat-lady with bad hair, who is weirdly interested in the lives of teenagers.

For the visual confirmation of loserdom

For the visual confirmation of her specialness.

I freaking hate that movie. It is a parade of awkwardness from start to finish, complete with 90s fashion. And in my weaker moments, I become convinced that it will be my life… MINUS the Romantic Comedy ending. 

I become absolutely certain that I will be the ONE PERSON IN THE UNIVERSE who will NEVER be in a serious, long-term, marriage-destinationed relationship. (Fortunately for me I have been kissed. In my most psychotic moments, that convinces me that I won’t be a cat-lady or have bad hair. That leaves me with crazy, grammar-obsessed, crocheting, and being too aware of the teenaged relationships around me.)

Three down. Just need to learn to crochet.

Anyways, why am I sharing this?

Here is the list:

  1. Because this week is Valentine’s Day.
  2. Because a statistically improbable percentage of my friends are dating, engaged, married, pregnant, and/or have babies.
  3. Because I am teaching Pride and Prejudice to a group of 11th graders who are simultaneously relationship hyper-active and relationship challenged.
  4. Because ALL of my students are obsessed with my relationship status and ask about it weekly.
  5. Because today was World Marriage Day, so the homily centered on that particular vocation.
  6. Because my roommate has taken to sharing (frequently and in alternation) a list of her prospective suitors and her extreme romantic woe.

  7. Because I am lonely.
  8. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Because I am pattern obsessed and convinced that all of these things are some combination of God’s will and the devil screwing with me via Spiritual Warfare.(I never really used to think about Spiritual Warfare. Until Reesa. And Jennifer Fulwiller. I really like the idea. It means that when I am a raging psycho, there are actual evil things attacking my psyche, and apparently I am confrontational enough that this idea gives me a reason to fight back.)My current battle is the battle of Special Loneliness and Suffering. Basically, the devil tries to convince me that I am alone. That I need to lie so that people don’t discover the awful truth. That I am the one  broken never-dating girl in the world. That NO ONE has ever been as lonely as I am. That NO ONE has ever been as pathetic and undateable. That NO ONE can understand. That I am Specially Doomed.

If it sounds dumb, that is because it is. As an antidote to this ham-handed but wildly effective assault on my soul, here is some “Fight Club”:

Fight Club

Listen up, maggots. You are not special.

You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake.

You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”

Harsh? Yes. But I am pretty sure that the principle holds. I think that one of the greatest lies that the Devil has come up with is that suffering makes us special. 

 I wrote this post, because I am not. AND I AM SO GLAD! My loneliness is not special. My sinfulness is not special. My suffering is NOT SPECIAL. 

Crucifixion

Christ died on the Cross, saying:

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

In that moment suffering and loneliness were transfigured into the great and beautiful points of connection between people. Even if I am the only person in the world who never has a date on Valentine’s Day. Even if God’s will is for me to spend the rest of my life teaching high school students about healthy relationships without ever having one myself. Even if I watch every last one of my friends and roommates fall in love, while I do not. Even IF…

My suffering is still not special.

He shared every moment of it. I am not alone and neither are you.

Happy Valentine’s Week, y’all! If there is someone who is fighting the same spiritual battle as I am: REMEMBER, not dating does not necessarily lead to lonely cat-lady-hood.  We can be crazy dog-ladies together!