19 May 2011

Together we will serve

I remember one day after daily Mass in highschool where my mom's friend came up to us and told us about a recent trip she went on with just her husband. She explained that they both had different ideas of what they're trip should look like and were trying to make each other happy. The woman decided to let her husband take the lead in planning and trust him. She admitted she was nervous and hoped he knew how to plan a trip successfully. She wasn't saying this to put her husband's intelligence down, but she was definitely uneasy about the whole thing. She was hopeful that her husband would lead them in a close spiritual encounter indiviually and as a couple. She was amazed by the graces poured forth on their marriage for doing this and was convinced it was because she relinquished control.

This story has stayed with me for years. It was a simple yet very profound lesson in a society where woman are advancing and often out-performing men in the business world. With the renaissance of woman having a say in public matters beginning in the 1920's, women have gone on to abuse this. Instead of "equality", woman now traipse around believing they are far superior to men.

How often do you hear women spout off sarcastic jabs at their husbands, boyfriends or other men they know saying, "They're such a man" or "Don't worry honey, it's a man thing". It's as if we're allowing men to be stupid because that's what we think they are. (I don't mean "we" here to mean you and I, but women in general). I mean come on, girls, let's give them a little credit!

Now I know it may have been one of those days or weeks when you're reading this thinking I'm crazy. I have those days myself. The socks and t-shirts are strewn about the bedroom, the wet towel is in a corner with clean clothes, you asked him to dress the baby and she's now in polka-dots, stripes and zebra prints all at once. I've been there. On the other hand, I'm not such a gem to live with all the time either.

I have made a conscious effort in my marriage to replace disdain and annoyance with acceptance and respect. In the past my husband would offer suggestions about wedding planning or mothering and I would immediately tense up. What would a guy know about such things?! Can't he just trust me and follow my lead?! And why does he think that he needs to copy me by sometimes sitting me down like I to do him to say, "You know, I think you're really getting caught up in this" or "This isn't really leading you to holiness. Maybe try               instead." As frustrating and humbling as it is to sit there hearing that you weren't quite the holy woman in an instance that you would like to think you are, it is reassuring to know that I have a marriage that is calling me to holiness. Our vocation, whatever that may be- married, religious or the single life, is a calling to lead a life in submission to the will of God so that we can spend eternity with Him.

My husband and I see ourselves as a team. There isn't one of us that "wears the pants", although we'll laugh along with whoever says it's me just so we're "normal". But really, we are both very opinionated and strong-willed people and need to work together to overcome our "human-ness". We always look at each angle before we come together to decide what the best decision is for our family. It often begins with something we're certain on and then changes as we open our minds to each other and what others have to say. I love knowing that no matter what the topic- parenting, birth, Catholicism, politics, family, money, job, etc.- we are on the same page!

Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labor. If the one falls, the other will lift up his companion. Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up. So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm? Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. 
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

So often in today's society women take the words from Ephesians 5:22, "Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord." literally, as if St Paul is degrading women and making us slaves to men. But what about the verse before (5:21): Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Now we definitely have a new spin on things, and a humbling one at that. Let me go further:

For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."  This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband. (Eph 5: 23-33) 

We see here an obvious parallel between Christ and the Church and a husband and wife. We are to enter into a partnership with one another. Wives, we are called to be respectful of our husbands. We are to work with them as they set out to take care of us and make us holy. Men are called to give their very bodies for our own well-being and to respect our bodies.

If women weren't so caught up in the "equality factor", they would see the beauty intended by Christ for marriage as depicted by St Paul in Ephesians.

1 Peter 3:3-4 goes on: Your [wives] adornment should not be an external one...but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God.

Verse 7 calls husbands on: Likewise, you husbands should live with your wives in understanding, showing honor to the weaker female sex, since we are joint heirs of the gift of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 

And finally we see in verse 8-12 a unity between the two and how they are to help the other to holiness: Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble.

Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing. For: "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep the tongue from evil and the lips from speaking deceit, must turn from evil and do good, seek peace and follow after it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears turned to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against evildoers."  

We see here that we aren't told "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" but to forgive and move on in a loving manner. If we receive a snippy or rather cutting remark, let's try to chalk it up to the other having a rough day. When they're cooled down, that is when we can bring it up to let them know how much it hurt us. If we are always returning a rough tone with another, this isn't a dwelling for love and humility. And if we need to make a point known, let's not put the other down but work together calmly to figure things out. My husband and I have promised each other that we will not fight in front of our girls. So far, we have kept that promise. It may be 9 or 10 pm before we get to talking about an issue, but by then our initial anger has often subsided. If it hasn't, we try really hard not to yell and say hurtful things while still getting the point across. It is really hard to do! He and I are both passionate screamers and it takes a lot to not storm out of the room screaming that the other's wrong, doesn't care or thinks the other is stupid. Ugh! We have done away with much unneccessary drama and hurtful things that are said "in the moment". Our hope is that our girls will learn how to deal with conflict in a loving way and always be assured that their parents work as a team.

Mary, our blessed mother, is the perfect depiction of a humble servant who was blessed so immensely. She could have defended herself or her Son so many times (or gone around proclaiming that she was the perfect mother of God), yet we don't see her doing any such thing. She is our most perfect example of how we, as women, are called to live.

I cannot tell you how many times I have given up control of something only to be shown how it has sanctified our family. This can range from some tiny little thing in our family to something of much greater proportion.

I challenge you to truly follow your husbands. Call them on also, as we all need a little nudge to stay on the right path. But if you know that what he's telling you or suggesting isn't sinful, listen and pray. You never know the rewards that may follow- and you may not see them at all here on earth.

1 comment:

  1. My computer's acting up. Sorry for the bold and weird spacing toward the end!