Raise your hand if you have your wedding all pinned on Pinterest.
Okay, let me take a wild guess at what you pinned; rustic barn is your venue, glitter everywhere, maybe sunflowers, no, actually, maybe you’re that “converse shoes for the bridesmaid” kind of gal, and you have your husbands tux picked out and you only hope and pray he tears up when you walk down the aisle. *wink emoji*
Don’t worry, I’m not going to write a couple hundred words telling you you’re crazy. I don’t feel bad for you for having a relationship, I feel bad that people in one neglect to see the way relationships are a call to greatness.
Your relationship is not a reward, nor do you “deserve” one. It is not a status or confidence booster. It is a task.
In John Paul II’s book Love and Responsibility, he writes “love is never ready made. It is given to man and woman and is a ‘task.’” It is a journey that will be blissful, exciting, romantic, and lovely, but also hard, selfless, sacrificial, and requires a willingness to strive for many virtues, like patience. He goes on further stating, “love never ‘is’ but is always ‘becoming’ and what it becomes depends on the contribution of both persons and the depth of their commitment.”
“Love between man and woman cannot be built without sacrifices and self-denial. You have been created for such a love—and you will not be satisfied with anything less.” –JPII
Self-denial and sacrifices are signs of Jesus’ love for us. His passion was painful, horrific, and gruesome at the expense of Himself, but was a gift for us. He even asked God if the suffering could pass. Jesus experienced all the pains, emotions, thoughts, doubts, and hurt that humans struggle with yet ultimately reminded us there is proof the divine nature of God works wonders in any hard situation. Archbishop Chaput said, “The Gospel is never merely a call to be “nice” to others. There’s nothing sweet about Golgotha. Life in Jesus-Christ is a call to heroic and self-sacrificing love.”
Sacrificing at the expense of love in today’s generation is hard to comprehend because we’re use to instant gratification. Things like wanting love but not willing to wait for the right person, staying in a toxic relationship, not respecting your mates decision to save sex for marriage, and single-hood is seen as a “disease” are just a few examples. Suppressing your selfishness is not easy–it’s a call for greatness. Don’t fret when you become weak in these efforts, Jesus serves as your Savior so call on Him. Even He fell 3 times carrying his cross, knew what it was like to be lonely, and thought His act of love wasn’t doing anything.
Relationships are profound ways we can exemplify and embark on heroic love! Heroic doesn’t mean perfect, heroic means striving. It is a beautiful way to uncover the mystery and longings of our heart and embrace God’s goodness. Relationships and marriages are sanctifying opportunities. That’s why in the Christian tradition marriage is a sacrament. Sacraments are visible signs of inward and spiritual divine grace. God’s idea with marriage is to really prove how much we need Him in order to live fully.
We are not human beings that thrive on self-glorification, or selfishness, we thrive on God’s grace. We enjoy greatness and know when we’re “settling.” We shouldn’t stick around in a relationships to get a high rush of emotions or have a person on speed dial whenever you need something, or you’re lonely, and then break-up (or divorce) when it gets hard. We are human beings that must always be ready to answer a heroic and self-sacrificing duty to love.
Any call to greatness is a choice. And when given the choice to unite any hardship to Jesus, the rewards reveal more beauty, more appreciation, and more meaningfulness towards self growth and true charity.
That said I invite you to pray. Pray for your current relationship (and pray for the grace to make these sacrifices one day if you’re single now). Open your heart to uncovering what sacrifice you need to make for yourself or another person. Be willing to take responsibility to uncover, practice, and better your nature. This can be done in small ways or big ways–dig deep.
God would never call you on a path without giving you the grace to live it. From my own experience, I can assure you He will give you more than you ever imagined—He knows the rewards of His works and we are called to uncover the mystery of such a love.