Sunday, October 4, 2015

Trial by Fire

We were late. Again. 

I have a love/hate thing with 9 a.m. Mass. On one hand, it's early and we're home by 10:30 and have the rest of the day gloriously stretched out in front of us, to fill at our leisure (I don't remember the last time we had a leisurely Sunday, but you get the idea). It's to-the-point, and less prone to funny stuff you can encounter at more popular Masses. It's before baby's nap, so less cranky there. The kids are relatively well-behaved because they haven't quite woken up yet, haven't gotten engrossed in other projects, haven't had a chance to turn on Netflix yet... 

But dude, it's 9 a.m. Which means we need to get everyone up, dressed, and out the door by 8:45. Easy for those of you who shuffle your gang off to school that time every day, which I don't.

And it was soooo not happening today. 

As we pulled out of the driveway at 9:02, we did manage to make it just as they were intoning the Psalm. Which I have to say, is pretty good. 

Speed limits are only suggestions on Sunday mornings anyways, right? 

So why did I publically admit we were atrociously late for church while probably bending the speed limit this morning? Because we had to sit at the back. 

This is will make sense in a moment, I promise. 

According to the Novus Ordo calendar, today's Gospel was from the book of St. Mark. I'm sure you're very familiar with the passage:

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' [...] Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.

I don't touch on marriage very often in this blog. My husband and I are about to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary at the end of the month, something which seems to be rarer and rarer these days. I'm so thankful for every day that he's in my life, as I literally can't imagine it without him. My only regret was that we had such a late start together.

Even though we weren't that young when we got married, we did a lot of growing up in those first few years. Most people do, I assume. Having your first child, that accelerates the growing-up for most of us. There's nothing like being responsible for a tiny, helpless little person that simultaneously enthralls you and scares the living daylights out of you. 

Okay, so back to church. 

Theologian Scott Hahn famously said, 

 [...]in the marital covenant the two become one, and God has designed it so that when the two become one, they become so one that nine months later you might just have to give it a name. 

We were at the back of the church with our brood of covenantal manifestations, trying desperately to keep them relatively quiet. I think they were thrown a bit by our uncustomary degree of lateness (usually we're there by the Gloria at the latest) and the sitting at the back thing (we're usually at the front). The baby was determined to walk up and down the aisles. Abby kept repeating, "Hi! How are you!" to everyone around us, not always with her "indoor voice". Joseph was being Joseph, squirmy and incessantly whining telling us he couldn't see. Rachael was in the corner of the pew, having a mad-on about some infraction committed by her brother. 

I think with that description, we've established neither my husband or I were paying that much attention to Mass. 

But we both tuned in to the homily at the same moment. Father quoted a theologian (that I wish desperately I caught the name of!) that said that the best marriages have a little bit of trial in them. That a little bit of difficulty was a good thing to make them stronger. 


I remember my mom asked me once, a few years ago when several marriages of family members were in the process of imploding, what made our marriage different. At the time, I gave her a glib answer about how were were both too cheap to pay for two houses to live in. But in truth, it's because of the trial. It literally is a case of what didn't kill us made us stronger. 

If you grow up exponentially once you have a child, sometimes I think you grow up exponentially of an exponent when you have a special-needs child. And it literally either breaks you or cements you permanently. I was so mad at God during the long, dark days, and felt like I was abandoned ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!"), but every morning, my husband was there. When one of us couldn't handle it anymore, the other took over. When I cried myself to sleep at night, his arms were around me.

Abby is a life created out of our covenant with each other. Our responsibility not only to her, but to each other fundamentally changed our disposition. The trials we endured, especially at the beginning, set the tone for our lives together. This too shall pass. We shall not break. We will get through this, just as we always have. 

There is always a solution, imperfect as it might end up being. So help us, God.

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