Last night, John and I were watching the latest episode of HIMYM (again, if you don’t want spoilers, STOP READING THIS). I’ve always loved the characters of Marshall and Lily. For those of you who don’t know the show, Marshall and Lily are college sweethearts who consistently exemplify unconditional and sacrificial love. They really are the perfect example of what marriage should look like, and I love that the writers have always been dedicated to the success of that relationship.
I’ve always related to Lily’s character. She is a strong woman with very maternal instincts. She loves her husband deeply, adores children, is brutally honest when necessary, and is fiercely loyal to her friends. She's even a teacher! Lily is me with red hair and a much hotter body.
Anyway, in last night’s episode, we come to find out that Lily has been harboring a secret. I immediately said to John, “She’s pregnant!”
Turns out I was right. The way the writers allowed the story to unfold was beautiful. Marshall, upon learning he was going to be a Daddy again, rushed to Lily’s side and confronted her with the news. However, he didn’t confront her angrily. Instead, he was emotional – 120% caught up in anticipation, hope, joy, and above all, love. Love for Lily, love for his son, and love for the new life he and Lily had created.
And when Lily said she “just felt like” the baby was a girl, I was instantly a wreck. I chewed my lip to the point of bleeding trying to keep myself from openly sobbing in front of John, but he saw I was upset and came to sit next to me on the couch to hug me. He probably thought I was crying over Myla.
In truth, I sorta was, but my tears were lamenting more than miscarriage.
Marshall said something that stabbed my heart. The exchange came after a very emotional argument Marshall and Lily had regarding moving to Italy vs. staying in the States (pitting Lily’s dreams against Mashall’s dreams). Marshall selfishly wanted to stay in the States and made the decision without ever asking Lily’s input. Lily, rightly hurt by this, angrily demanded to know why her dreams weren’t considered as important as Marshall’s. The argument ends with Lily sacrificing her dream of Italy for the sake of the family she loves, and Marshall apologizing for allowing his selfishness to come before his love for her.
However, upon learning that Lily is carrying their 2nd child, Marshall exclaims:
“Lily, we have to [go to Italy]! You’re gonna live in Rome, and you’re gonna get your dream because you’re giving me mine, again.”
Cue tear cascade.
Lily had already given up her dream of Italy to support her husband and their (now growing) family. That was a very, VERY difficult thing for her and she knew she’d wrestle with that baggage for the rest of her life. But she did it. Why? Because she loves Marshall and their family enough to sacrifice of herself.
And in that instance, Marshall realized his erroneous thinking. The whole season, he was focused solely on how he could convince Lily to make the sacrifice because his dream was, selfishly, what he wanted.
Until news of the baby. News of the baby's existence caused Marshall to instantly realize his priorities were skewed. A judgeship was not his dream. It’d be a nice goal to reach, but Marshall’s dream was, and always has been, to have a big family, the same as he’d grown up surrounded by. Family is Marshall’s true dream, and he recognized that Lily had known (and been working towards) this all along. Lily had always sacrificed for their shared dream of family, while Marshall simply enjoyed the fruits of that sacrifice.
Realizing this, he took responsibility for sacrificing. He wanted Lily to have the same opportunity to grasp her dreams because it’s what she’d always done for him. He loved her and their family to the point of sacrificing the biggest goal he’s ever set for himself: judgeship. He pushed his fear of leaving New York aside and trusted that his love for his family would be sufficient to weather the journey.
They are like the married couple in O. Henry’s story The Gift of the Magi. Lily willingly handed over her hair (Italy) and Marshall gave up his watch (the judgeship). Deep, personal sacrifices in both cases that were gift wrapped in love.
And Marshall only understood this lesson after rearranging his priorities into their proper order: Lily first, family second, self third. What caused the paradigm shift? News of the baby and his overabundance of love and excitement.
THAT is why my body rocked with sobs. Marshall’s response was what I’ve always envisioned for myself as a child – my future husband being just as excited and joyous as Marshall at news of a pregnancy… my future husband seeing these children as dreams come true. I had visions of him jumping up and down in the bathroom with me as two little pink lines surfaced from a plastic stick.
I cried because my husband was so diametrically opposed to Marshall in this.
There was no moment of joy when he learned of Myla. There was no realization that his priorities were misaligned. There was no moment of clarity in which he appreciated the terrible sacrifice I make on a daily basis so his dreams can be sought after. Instead, there was disgust, fear, annoyance and frustration.
How that wounds my heart.
My dream, from my very first memories, revolve solely around a family. Myla was, in many ways, my final chance at that family. So when I mourn for Myla, I fully understand that I’m mourning for her and all the other children I’ve been denied.
And I was angry. Frustrated. Jealous. Desperate. All because of a television series that showcased the response I long for but will never have. Not even with Vincent. On both counts, John’s first reaction was fear and annoyance. Disbelief.
Never love. Never joy.
And that is what absolutely kills me.
I felt so unappreciated that I free-fell into an intense depression. My mind wondered if John even loved me at all. How could someone who loves me simultaneously seem to hate me so much?
Do I think John hates me? Of course not. But in that moment, it felt that way. Maybe because I hated myself being in this situation. I don't know. It's easier for me to turn the upset feelings inward rather than outward.
Anyway, after the show finished, we watched a 30 minute comedy to lighten the mood. It worked well enough for John to think things were okay. I was sour, though. The self-loathing, anger, jealousy and despair were percolating in my mind the whole time. So instead of watching another show, I went to bed. Not that I was going to sleep. Lord knows I wouldn't be doing much sleeping. But at least I could shut myself off in the dark.
John came up after me. He grabbed me close in bed and snuggled there. He's a snuggler. I hate snuggling. Loathe it. It's okay for all of three seconds before I get annoyed and want my space back. However, I allowed it because I knew that was his way of trying to make me feel better. I knew he needed to feel like he was helping. Maybe that's all he thought he could do. After all, John responds to touch, so it makes sense why he'd think I would react the same.
Honestly, though, I wanted no parts of myself let alone any parts of him.
I'm terrible, aren't I?
Anyway (and really, Mom, if you're reading this, just go ahead and avert your eyes), I realized in that moment that I did need John. I needed to feel loved, because there was a part of me (the logical side?) that understood he loved me, but my heart was so full of hurt and grief that I couldn't feel it. I couldn't process that he could love me given the broken and hurting state I was in.
So I kissed John. I wanted him to kiss me back, to give me some tangible sign that he loved me. He dutifully kissed me, but laid back on his pillow. I pulled his face back to mine and whispered, "No. Make love to me."
I don't normally do that. I'm not the romantic type who whispers sweet nothings into dusky skies as my hair whips gracefully in a gentle breeze. But in that moment, I recognized the marital act of making love as the only balm to soothe the aching desolation in my heart. I needed my husband to love me. I needed him to physically, emotionally and spiritually LOVE me, and a few pecks on the cheek weren't going to cut it. Not when I was feeling so incredibly unloved.
That was the first time I've ever "needed" sex. I've enjoyed sex, sure. I've wanted sex, definitely. But I can't remember a time in which I urgently needed to give the fullness of myself and receive the fullness of my husband in the way that only married love can do. Sex isn't just some repetitive thrusting based solely on biology. That we, as a people, have turned it into so base a commodity is a travesty. Looking at sex as a means to better know and understand the love of my husband... it was eye-opening for me.
I guess the topic of failure is not done with me yet. Given how great I am at failing, it's nice to know I'm in good company every once in a while.
After writing The Importance of Sharing Failure, and posting the status update to Facebook, I've gotten some really great feedback. As such, I've been thinking more about it and wanted to again point out that the mirage of perfection that we see online, in magazines, and on television is just that - a mirage.
The only perfection we can hope to attain is that eternal reward of union with Christ in Heaven. That is the perfection we should be running towards. What does a thigh gap have on eternal life? Do the numbers 36-24-36 mean anything in the light of Divinity? Or is it the bulging biceps that will somehow overshadow the merits of the Sacrifice of the Cross?
We all fail. It's part of our frail human natures. Even the greatest saints among us have fallen.
St. Paul spoke of the thorn in his side. He never named the sin that caused him to falter, but he understood the importance of sharing his faults so that others may benefit.
St. Augustine. Oh bless him... St. Augustine is proof that there's a chance for me yet.
Even St. Peter, himself, failed his best friend, Jesus - THREE TIMES.
We all will fail. The difference between St. Peter and Judas is that St. Peter sought forgiveness. He recognized his failing, and he sought forgiveness.
We are not perfect, folks. How lucky we are that God forgives! And yes, this ties in nicely with all the Pope Francis talk about Confession.
Run to Him. Recognize your failing as a stepping stone towards sainthood. We will all falter at some point. However, it only becomes failure if you give up and do not seek forgiveness. So long as you're still alive, you know God hasn't given up on you. Why should you give up on yourself if He hasn't?
Recognize your failings and rectify them so they become beacons of Christ's mercy. What better place to do that than in the Confessional wherein Christ wraps His arms around you and pulls you to His Sacred Heart. The absolution you hear is simply the vocalization of His beating Heart serenading you with unconditional love and boundless mercy.
Totally feeling like this right now.
So I've been doing an incredibly bad job of resisting temptation recently.
About three seconds ago, I decided that instead of giving in completely, I should try to go "half-sies" and see if that doesn't work out better.
I had posted a quote up on my FB page last week that I found through a Tumblr (brought to my attention via Deo volente when he posted it to Dymphna's wall). A brief conversation followed which had me at my religious blackboard for a few moments and all has been mostly silent (likely because by this point, most of my friends have me on "hidden" so they aren't forced to suffer through my conservative ramblings).
Anywho, this is what the conversation looked like:
Me: No one ever said following Christ would be easy. He didn’t say, “Come pick up your pillow and follow me.” - Sister Karen of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George
I think this may be my new favorite quote. *Giggle*
Friend K: Did you see the new thing on the news? Now they are questioning if Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.
Me: Yeah, I saw this and it's the same argument they've been attempting to make forever. *grump grump grump*
We've got ancient papyrus that mentions Jesus shooting angry laser beams at other kids who made fun of Him when He was a child, too. LoL. I'm not kidding.
There's a reason certain things were left out of the Bible. Not everything was written with the guidance of the Spirit. This would be a good example.
Unless, of course, we're talking about Christ's Bride being the Church (which we're not).
So while I've heard of this on the news recently, I haven't paid it any attention because it's the same tired song that's been sung for a long, long time. No matter how much folks want to believe that Christ was married to Mary M, the truth will always be that He was, from all eternity, married to the Church. It's why He came specifically to lay down His Life for Her.
Which, BTW, was the complete reversion of Adam's refusal to lay down his life for his wife, Eve (which subsequently got them booted out of the garden).
But I digress (as I'm prone to do when theological topics tickle my fancy).
Friend T: well i understand that not everything written down is true but if something wasn't written with the guidance of the spirit, does that make it not true? jesus shooting laser beams is sort of far fetched...but...come on...if you think about the things catholics believe in (water into wine, walking on water, raising from the dead, virgin birth) that's a little harder to believe but we still believe it. then we find ancient text saying a man from the middle east 2000 years ago had a wife and you say its the same old crazy story.
i reread one of those sentences and it has some structural issues but u get the point
Me: Structural issues aside (*grin*), I'm not asking anyone non-Catholic to believe or disbelieve in the papyrus. I'm simply pointing out that no matter how many various scrolls are found that say Jesus was married to Mary, faithful Catholics will never believe it because we know through the 3 Pillars that Jesus - from all eternity - was and is united to the Church. He never married during His stint on earth, and anyone who said so (today or 2,000 years ago) got their information wrong (either intentionally as in the case of heretics, or unintentionally as sometimes happens through human nature). This is why we Catholics believe so strongly in the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
He makes sure that heretical / misguided information stays out of our Scriptures because He's got the foresight to see that this issue will keep cropping up every few decades.
And an interesting tidbit for anyone who cares:
The most utilized analogy in the Bible as a whole (this included the OT and the NT) of Christ to His Church is that of the Bridegroom and His Bride.
Not the Good Shepherd leading His Flock, and not the King and His subjects. God, throughout Salvation History, has highlighted the idea that we are not only His Family, but His INTIMATE family. He wishes to know us and love us as two people so closely united that they become one.
This, my friends, is why Catholics hold the Sacrament of Matrimony to be so incredibly sacred... it is humanity's call to emulate God. THIS is why we will fight tooth and nail to ensure that this Sacrament remains faithful to the truth of Divine Nature.
See? There I go digressing again...
That was the end of the conversation. I've even been relatively silent on updating statues and such on account of the focus on Vince's birthday this weekend.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I find this message in my message box this morning:
Friend S: I saw your post about gay marrage and still dont see why everything has to boil down to two men getting married in a church for you catholics. live and let live already. and while your at it, acknowledge that your story book contains just as much fact as my grimms fairytails.
I'll be honest. After reading it, I was HIGHLY confused (and I admit, HIGHLY irritated). "Gay marriage" post? WHAT gay marriage post? I was trying really hard to remember if I'd spoken about marriage at all let along gay marriage last week. The second sentence was my only clue to what post this person was talking about.
Instead of writing back one of my normal fire-brandishing messages, I resisted. I actually typed a terrible response that was more reactionary than I care to admit. I smartly deleted it upon further reflection. However, I can't say I successfully bucked Satan on this one. I half-gave in and simply wrote back that considering my original topic had nothing to do with gay marriage, and almost NONE of the subsequent follow-up had to do with gay marriage, the only one who can rightly be accused of boiling anything down would be him.
I need to go read Shalimar's entry on forgiving and letting go, because I'm all sortsa "I want to punch things" right now...
I loathe having my words twisted into something unrecognizable. I really, really do.
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