Called to Be is a series of blog posts on the vocation of marriage, written by Melanie Jean Juneau. Our guest blogger – who is is the administrator of the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers, Editor in Chief for Catholic Stand, and regularly posts on joy of nine9 – shares with us her story and reflections. Catch up with the previous articles and stay tuned for the next ones!
Surprisingly, one of the keys to the longevity of our marriage has been suffering. Suffering was a gift which unified us because it stripped away false pride and forced us to our knees in prayer. Honest prayer led both of us to self-knowledge, humility, and compassion for each other. When I asked a priest what my life would have been like if I had not suffered, if I had married a well-off dentist, had 1.25 kids and lived in an efficient, modern house, he put on a phony, pious face, put his hands together in prayer, and said in a high, mocking voice, ”Oh, you would be a nice Christian lady, praising the Lord.” What he meant by that amusing bit of acting was I would be shallow, without depth and strength. Well, when I see the results of a bit of suffering in our marriage, I say bring it on. Listen to C.S. Lewis on suffering:
God loves us, so He makes us the gift of suffering.Through suffering, we release our hold on the toys of this world and know our true good lies in another world. We’re like blocks of stone, out of which the sculptor carves the forms of men. The blows of his chisel, which hurt us so much, are what make us perfect. The suffering in this world is not the failure of God’s love for us; it is that love in action. (Shadowlands)
I can think of no greater tragedy than to die and discover I had deluded myself, simply living happily on the surface and missing out on the core reality of what it means to be fully alive, in relationship to other people and God.
We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. (The Problem of Pain)
God used suffering to catch my attention… Suffering chisels away my rough edges, heals me and transforms me. It took years of suffering and tears before I surrendered and quit demanding love from my husband and trying to control him, My safe little world shattered and I was left feeling desperate. God had an opening to fill me with his presence. I learned the hard way – no matter the hardships and trials I experience in this life, I can choose to abandon a solitary existence, embrace this indwelling presence of the Christ and live in joy. As the Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin said so eloquently, “Joy is the infallible sign of God’s presence”.
Beloved – An essential spiritual companion for married and engaged couples