Grace and Peace to you.
Thirty three years ago today Beth and I became partners for life. Beth has been the greatest blessing in my life, and being married to her the second greatest. Protestant as I am, marriage for me has been more of a sacrament than a social contract. It’s a living parable of God, of faithfulness and presence and constancy. For me Beth’s faithfulness is a taste of God’s. And when I experience my own attraction to Beth, and attraction to being faithful, out of love, not duty, I taste God’s love for me, for all of us, and my love for God. And I touch that mystery we call the Holy Spirit, God’s love alive in me.
Part of the blessing of marriage has been discovering the depth of what it means to be faithful— not just faithful to her, by “not cheating,” but faithful with her. It means being fully, honestly, lovingly present for her. It means being myself, my authentic self, with her. It means living in covenant, in partnership, not just association. Although I am a whole person, and I do not have an “other half,” I discover my wholeness in community, in covenant, in relationship. Discovering my whole self is hard work, since there’s a lot of me I don’t want to see. But we’re joined; there’s no escape. This is good, because it’s sometimes hard work, and kind of ugly. But I have to stay and learn as Beth reveals stuff to me, and do the same for her. And in the process we both become more fully ourselves, more deeply in love, and more beautiful.
When I think of my fault and failures, the fact of Beth’s faithful love for me is really a miracle. To atheists I say, fine, if you don’t believe in God, believe in that. Whatever mystery it is by which Beth faithfully endures being drawn into my disasters and wounded by my dysfunctions, still gently loving me— believe in that. Whatever it is that evokes faithful love out of my otherwise disordered and distracted heart, believe in that. It’s real.
This is how God loves us, tenderly revealing ourselves to us, enabling us to become our full, deep, authentic selves, never giving upon us, enjoying being with us, not in obligation but because deep down, God is actually totally in love with us. God has said, “You are mine, and I am yours.” The Holy Trinity says, “I will be true to myself only in being true to you.” Give thanks for this grace. And whether you are married or not give yourself to living in loving faithfulness to the world. It is life’s richest blessing. Now excuse me; I’m going to go buy some flowers.
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