I don’t know anyone who gets married with the intent to divorce. I’d say no one does, but in today’s world where right is viewed as wrong and wrong as right, I’m not 100% sure that’s true. I will go out on a pretty sturdy limb though to say very few get married with the idea that divorce is a possibility, never mind a certainty or even a probability.
Yet, divorce happens.
Divorce rates are climbing. This is in part due to no fault divorce brought about by women’s lib and the best of short-sighted intentions, but it is not solely the fault of no fault divorce or the court systems, the media, or even the betraying spouse. Fault does not lie with the innocent spouse either. Many know from experience that there can be one who hoped to make marriage work despite increasingly overwhelming odds. Many know from experience that one partner can choose to love while another chooses to turn away.
I know that I was not innocent in the failings of our marriage. I know I must take a good, long, hard look at what I did and how I could have done better, how I would be better if I were ever, now that I have my annulment, decide to get in a serious relationship again.
Maybe, I begin my examination of self with that last statement: if I were ever, now that I have my annulment, decide to get in a serious relationship again.
There are days I do hope to meet someone, to share laughter and stories of our days with, someone to enjoy the outdoors a nice meal out with, someone to come home to at the end of a long day, someone to prepare a meal with, to sit by the fire cuddling, reading side by side with before heading upstairs to bed, but if all I do is think about what I want and what I desire and who and when and how I desire it, I may be setting myself up for failure – again!
Reality is that, while those desires are normal, understandable, and good, they can’t be all we look for in a spouse or in any relationship for that matter. When our desires are our focus, we lose the point of our existence.
My ex and I went through very rough time years before he decided to leave our marriage. Neither of us liked each other much, and I did not act very nicely toward him. I had forgotten my role as loving wife. I saw only how he mistreated me. I looked at myself as the victim and saw greener pastures elsewhere. Those greener pastures were not necessarily other men although if the Bible says to even look lustfully at a man is adultery, I’d have to admit guilt in that area too (ouch!).
Those greener pastures were often other marriages. I saw friends’ relationships and wanted what they had. I wondered why my husband couldn’t be more like so and so. I did more than wonder. I dwelt on it, and it almost burned me up inside.
We were at a low point in our marriage and I wanted to give up. I wondered what the point was. Why bother putting in an effort when I was being so poorly treated? Why bother when all I received was pain? Why bother when everything I did was never good enough? Why bother when there seemed no hope in his loving me? What was the point in trying?
What’s the Point of Love?
The point is, as recent Gospel readings remind us, that we are not here to enjoy a good marriage (although that is certainly one good goal! 🙂 ). We are not here to make our lives easier or to enjoy the finer things or to look down on others for what they don’t have or are not doing.
We are here to die.
The point of life is to die. It is not how God intended life to be in the Garden of Eden. Because of being made in His image and likeness we crave eternity and perfection and true love. Because of sin we experience pain and rejection and death.
And because of death, we attain eternity and perfection and love.
It’s funny how what seems bad in our eyes God uses for good. The same is true in Marriage and in divorce. When we seek a relationship only for what it can do for ourselves, we fail to honor the creation of our partners as God made them to be. We fail to honor traits in us God would cultivate if we gave Him a chance, traits such as patience, sacrifice, and love.
When we struggle in marriage, divorce, or life and ask what’s the point, what am I getting out of this deal, what guarantees are being offered me, and fight the struggle with anger or bitterness or walk away from the struggle in dejected defeat rather than embrace the power of the Holy Spirit overcoming struggle brings, there is no point.
Choose to Love
But there is another way. Even when you are guaranteed to “lose” the battle in front of you, choosing to Love is a winning strategy.
The point of life is death. The point of death is to reach Heaven. We do this through Love. We hold onto Love through Hope. Our point does not change whether we are single, married happily, married and struggling, divorced and feeling alone, or annulled and in a new relationship.
The point of life, in all its stages, is to attain Heaven. We try our best to do our best to grow faith, hope, and love within ourselves and live in such a way that those we meet choose to do the same so that they too may die and fulfill their purpose in Heaven.
It’s hard to think of the purpose of our lives as death, and yet, on Sunday, November 20, 2016, we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King and are reminded that we will die and we will meet our King.
Jesus Christ, King of the Universe!
Our priest spoke of Christ the King as King of the Universe and I had to fight back a small, immature giggle. I knew from my teaching experience and from being a Mom of five boys that somewhere in the world a kid in a pew hearing this would picture Jesus with a cape tied around His neck, zooming around the planet, arms outstretched before Him, cape fluttering behind in the wind. At least I hoped I wasn’t the only one to be flashed this immature image.
Yet, almost immediately I sobered realizing how limited my view of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe was. Jesus Christ, King of the Universe is no comic book character. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one gets to Heaven without Him. That is the Truth. That is the point. That is what we are called to embrace.
In Sunday’s reading, we see the two thieves hanging on crosses at Jesus’ sides. The bad thief mocks and ridicules Jesus even as they both hang waiting to die. The good thief seeks forgiveness, paying Jesus homage. The good thief does this without having proof of his reward. He does it on faith, on hope, and on a love which has finally occurred to him. He does this on realized and unconditional hope.
The good thief finally realizes the whole point of his life came down to this moment. It came down, not to what he was owed or in what had been done to him, but in getting himself to Heaven, in living his life in front of others in a way that makes them want Heaven too.
If you are struggling in a difficult Marriage or in day after day of divorced monotony, wishing things were better, sinking into loneliness or dejection, especially as the holidays approach and the whole world seems to be celebrating while you are left alone, if you are feeling like you’ve been left on the cross and are waiting to die, remember you have a choice just as the two thieves did. Remember the point of your life is not to get what you think you deserve or to be happy for happiness’ sake.
The point of life is to Love.
Life has no guarantees when mankind is involved. You don’t know if your fragile, precious, imperfect, beautiful love will be returned by any human being, but that is not why you love. You love because the King of the Universe notices. You love because He Loves. You love without guarantees because earthly gratification and the desire to have love returned the way you wish, in the time you demand is the way of the bad thief.
The point of life is to live every day as though it is your last, to live every day loving fully. It’s been said that Saint Francis of Assisi was once asked what he would do if he knew the end of the world was upon him. He was hoeing a row of beans in the community field at the time and replied that he would keep hoeing that row of beans.
In Saint Francis’ statement there is hope and a picture of a man continuing what he believed he was called to do. He had no fear of the King of the World coming to pronounce the end of the world.
We need to live the same way. Whether you are struggling in a difficult marriage or struggling through a difficult divorce or struggling through a difficult solitude or you have grown complacent in your happiness and belief that life will go as you planned, the point of your life should be that you are not on a cross waiting to die but that you keep hoeing your row, you keep living every day is if it were your last, as if it were the end of the world, as if today you would meet Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
You live every day as Jesus Christ, King of the Universe wishes you would. Live every day in love.
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