These are two truths that I can’t prove intellectually…I’m simply speaking from my own experience. And, for the record, if you are single and/or don’t have children, I’m not suggesting that God a) can’t form you in the same way by different means or that b) you are second class or that c) you are a lesser disciple. Jesus (and Paul to a lesser extent) changed the world . . . as a single guy with no kids. So, please hear me . . . I am only speaking for my own life and experience. If you are heartbroken because you are single . . . or because you don’t (or can’t) have children of your own . . . hear my saying, beyond rhetoric and sentimentality, I hope you find God in a newer, deeper, truer way as a result of your suffering and pain. Because I need to hear from you, learn from you, listen to you . . . I can’t fully know God without your voice and perspective.
Truth #1. When I married Kara, I think God saved me from many things. Marriage is an incredible mirror. I don’t think I could have known how truly selfish a person I naturally am were it not for marriage. I love me some me. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to do, want to eat, want to accomplish, want to experience . . . it’s all about me. Marriage has ushered me into a reality in which I don’t get to think about me as much as I’d like to (Did I mention this comes naturally?). Marriage is a daily invitation to remember that I am not the center of the world.
Truth #2. When Kara and I had Lucas (and Finn), I believe God saved us from each other. When you are living in a covenant relationship with another person, it’s easy to get so focused on this relationship you lose sight of all the many relationships God has called you into. Lucas and Finn necessitate that Kara and I work together (which she admittedly does better than me), plan, teamwork, etc.
A WARNING: it is possible to be so “consumed” by your marriage and family, that you substitute the previous for the other dimensions of the kingdom of God. The work of God in the world can’t be reduced to what’s happening in your marriage or family. God is all over the world, in all kinds of places and spaces doing all kinds of restorative work. The healthiest place to be, IMHO, is to properly keep marriage, family, (and even church) in the proper context of God unleashing God’s creative power in the world. The gift of marriage and family is that we are given covenant spaces to remember who God is, what God is doing, and how God works. These “covenant” spaces are hard work.
I can’t imagine my life without Kara, Lucas, and Finn.
I’m a good father and a decent husband. I have a long way to go.
But, this I know. God gave me marriage to save me from so much else. God gave us children to save us from each other.
Note: after I wrote this, a friend (Jim) wrote this … “Agreed. You know, Catholics speak of marriage and parenthood as vocations. And the rite of marriage as a sacrament whereby we receive grace (God’s power in us accomplishing what we could not on our own).”