As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Monday, April 2, 2018

Loved by Extension

My husband has always been more dynamic than me.  When we were dating it used to drive me nuts how people who had known me for years would somehow gravitate more to him than to me.  It offended my childlike need for approval I suppose.  But now after many years of marriage, I take a certain security in it.

We have a couple of dear friends who, when I say, “we should hang out,” it becomes clear that what they are really interested in isn’t so much coming to the house to hang with the whole family.  They really want to spend time with Jeff one-on-one.  Far from offending me now, after 15 years of marriage, I see this as my way of loving them by extension.  When they say, “hey Jeff, let’s get together sometime,” I’ll say, “sure, you go spend time with them.”  And knowing that he is with them is my way of loving them.  Now that I am older and more secure in my relationship with Jeff, that’s enough for me.  When I know that Jeff is spending time with them, it makes me happy.  I can love them through him. 

I am in a uniquely busy and hectic phase of life. Day by day gets more busy than the last, and whereas before I would have one busy week in the midst of several normal ones, the busy weeks are slowly becoming the norm. Jeff’s job has become increasingly more demanding as has my role as mother to both older and younger kids, and there is precious little time at the end of the day for each other. 

This past week was one of the worst.  Jeff worked late every single day, and I had to be out every single day (twice on two days).  There were band meetings and extra Masses for the Triduum, and a wake and funeral for my uncle who passed away this week, a work function for Jeff and the Chrism Mass.  Jeff and I didn’t see each other until late in the evening each night and he was off to bed, needing to get up for work the next day. Night after night I sat alone feeling so isolated, and remarked to Jeff on Good Friday (which mercifully, was not a work day for him) that I felt it was the first time we looked at one another all week.  To say that I dread this becoming more normal would be an understatement.  I’m sure many mothers join me in feeling isolated, overwhelmed and lonely in this season, and while I know the Lord will get me through it, it can be immensely painful.

When we got home following the Easter Vigil, my baby just did not want to go to sleep.  All he wanted to do was nurse, and nurse, and nurse, and poor Jeff was left to tidy up and make the Easter arrangements on his own.  At 12:30 pm, me still with a nursing babe at the breast, he went to bed, reasoning that if said baby woke in the night and I needed help, it would be better for him to be rested so he could lend a hand.

He was right, but as I sat there on my own for another hour still, I just felt so sad.  Here it was, Easter, and nothing seemed like a celebration.  Of course I know my feelings are not what make the day special, but this was not what I was accustomed to.  After a very long week I was so looking forward to being together, celebrating, having a glass of port and chocolate, and hiding treats together (like we usually do). Instead I sat in silence like I had every other night of the week.  I felt so alone.

As it turns out one of our other children was ill, and I ended up being awake most of the night running between him and the baby.  I tried not to feel too sorry for myself, and used the opportunity to pray.  Pray for my baby, pray for my sick child, and to pray for this season in life to be something other than loneliness.  The fact is I know neither of us can make the other less busy.  What I needed was a way to live in this moment without always feeling the crushing loneliness.

As I reflected on this the next day, I recalled these friendships where I love someone by extension of Jeff. The reason that works is because of the love we share together.  I thought about why this season so painful for me, and I realize that I want something from Jeff that he just can’t give me in this moment - nobody can.  Nobody that is, except the Lord.  And in that instant I realize the real issue is that I need to cling to God and not Jeff to get me through this time in my life. That in doing so, by being united to the Lord, I can love Jeff by extension. That in the times when we can’t be together and in particularly busy seasons when it feels like we’re only seeing each other in passing, our mutual relationship with the One who blesses our marriage will be enough to sustain us.  I can love Jeff through God.

And so in this season, it seems the only way to live is in deep friendship with Christ. Loving Christ more than I love my spouse is something I know I am called to, but the idea of it has always been a mystery to me. How can you love God more than you love those dearest to you? Maybe it doesn't need to be an either or thing. For now, I find myself in a circumstance where I can either lament what I don't have with Jeff, or use it to get to know the Lord in a way that has previously been mysterious to me. And the mercy of it all is that doing so it does not in fact, exclude my spouse, but somehow redeems and brings glory to the loss that we both feel. 

"He who saves his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for My sake will save it." There is no greater example than the Risen Lord, who days ago lost His own life in the most horrible way, only to rise to the glory of the Resurrection. Walking this suffering with Him, I pray for the courage and fortitude to lean on my Heavenly Father the way He did as I walk through this unique period of suffering in my own life, trusting that in all things He will will bring about His glory, just as He did with the suffering savior so many years ago.

Christus Resurrexit! Alleluia!

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