Tag Archives: suffering

On my Sister’s Engagement

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Hello everyone! My name is Teresa. I’m Selina’s older sister and Matron of Honor. First, I just want to say how happy I am that we have all just witnessed this truly beautiful sacrament of Holy Matrimony between Selina and Andrew. And I have just one thing to say about it… FINALLY.

In all seriousness, though, this has been a long journey.  Selina was saying that as of yesterday, she and Andrew had been engaged for seventeen months.  Now, I know that they didn’t necessarily plan their engagement this way, and it’s been difficult for them to wait so long to finally be married.  But I just want to say that it has been one of the most beautiful engagements I’ve ever witnessed.

I was blessed enough to move home just a couple months before Selina and Andrew were engaged, so I was able to be there—and to be with Selina—for much more of it than I would have otherwise. As Selina’s older sister, I can say that she and Andrew both have grown so much these past seventeen months, and I want to tell you all about a few of the virtues that I’ve witnessed in their engagement—that I know now are going to be hallmarks of an amazing marriage.

I think the first big challenge in Selina and Andrew’s engagement came the spring after Andrew proposed, when they decided it would be best for Andrew to take an opportunity to work and teach with a school in Urbil, Iraq.  I remember Selina coming into my room shortly after they’d made the decision, and she was just crying.  At first I thought she was crying because it would be so hard for her to be away from Andrew.  But in fact, Selina was crying from joy! Because she was grateful for the opportunity, because she was grateful for Andrew’s courage in taking the position, and because she was filled with an unexpected peace that they would emerge from that challenge all the stronger.

It was beautiful to see Selina’s faith in that moment—faith in God, in Andrew, and in their relationship.  In that moment, my little sister’s maturity and self-sacrifice amazed me.

And then, as you all know, Andrew was accepted into Officer Candidate School midway through his time in Iraq.  And he and Selina made another difficult decision: for him to come back, go to Rhode Island, and commit to the U.S. Navy. One of the biggest challenges that came with that decision was that the timing of this whole wedding was thrown into complete turmoil.  As was mentioned last night at the rehearsal dinner several times, both Selina and Andrew are planners. Andrew’s being in the US Navy made it really difficult for them to begin to plan either this wedding or the rest of their lives together.

But again, I witnessed Selina rise to the occasion with so much sweetness and grace.  You all should have seen her in the months leading up to this day. Her concern with the material details of planning a wedding sort of fell away, and she told me, “I don’t care.  I just want to be married.” I admire so much Selina’s ability, amidst the stress of planning a wedding (not to mention being IN SCHOOL), to focus on what really matters. Because your marriage is your vocation.  It is THE MOST important thing that God has put in either of your lives.  Everything else is secondary. And you have both shown that you understand that.

Andrew, I am so happy to welcome you into our family.  Because I see these things about Selina—that she is selfless and faithful and sweet and gracious—but I think you see them even more.  You see that you are the luckiest man in the world, because you could not ask for a better wife.

And Andrew, I want to tell you one more thing that I think you know: Selina is so proud of you. She is so proud, that I am sometimes embarrassed to take her out in public because I know as soon as I turn my back she’ll start talking to a complete stranger about you and your accomplishments, and this day, the day she gets to be married to you.  You deserve that pride she has in you.

This has been a long journey for you both.  But you have shown that you have faith in God, you have faith in each other, you can roll with the punches and you can come up with the knowledge of what is most important in life.  You are going to have an exceptional marriage, and I could not be more proud.

Congratulations Selina and Andrew.  Many blessings for a beautiful marriage and life together.  I love you.

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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!