Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Life Is Pain

 The world wants us to think that if our marriage is painful, we must have made a mistake.  Perhaps we should find someone else, someone who appreciates us or can make us happy.   The truth is, marriages are painful regardless of who your married to.  The reason why is that we are all What a joke. Ya, how is that working out for us in a world where 2/3 of all marriages end in divorce. 

"Life is pain highness, anyone telling you different is trying to sell you something" Princess Bride

This is one of my favorite quotes from the movie "Princess Bride".  It was spoken by Wesley, the main character, had been in love with Buttercup and had hoped to marry her.  He was attempting to save Princess Buttercup who was going to be murdered.   Just as Wesley was willing to offer himself to save Princess Buttercup,  so can we all.  We can offer ourselves for our spouse so that with our lives we can be an instrument of peace, love, pardon, faith, hope, light, joy.  We can console, understand, love and even sanctify of our spouse.  1 Corinthian 7:14 for love covers a multitude of sins. 

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8
So armed with knowledge, I realize that to be a loving and committed wife, mother,  sister and friend, I have to carry my cross. My cross, my suffering will be shaped and even formed by what I have brought to the table, my own inadequacies, my own shortcomings and my own past experiences from my childhood all will be brought to bear in this endeavor.  

I heard a story about a woman  who was lamenting over the cross she was being called to carry in life.  She had a dream that night that Jesus came to her and told her that he would allow her to chose whatever cross she wanted to carry, since she believed hers to be the wrong size, shape and burden.  She was led to a room and inside of it she saw all kinds of crosses of many different lengths and girth.  She looked for some time throughout the room and finally decided upon the smallest one she could find.  When Jesus looked at her smiling she said "Why are you smiling?" and he replied to her "My dear, that is the one you have been carrying all along".  

Our cross is submitting to the will of God in our lives.  When we give our yes to God and open ourselves to do His will and not ours, we will feel the sting of concupiscence as our flesh resists doing the difficult thing.   Our flesh does not want to wait, it does not want to sacrifice or give up, it wants comfort and praise and easiness.  To endure hardships or sufferings for sake of love or to deny ourselves pleasure is to feel the sting of the cross because it "hurts" it causes suffering.   Many of our wounds begin this way.  Our parents helped to mold us into the person we are today as well.  If they were not mature in faith, the wounds can be quite deep.  

Do not despair in this knowledge! Instead,  realize that whatever your shape, whatever your brokeness, God believes it the perfect vessel from which to flow through.  Caryl Houselander wrote in her book "The Reed Of God" that each of us has been formed, our shape, created by the experiences of our lives.  Some of us are like a tender reed.  We have been cut through with knife, whittled out and hallowed and even notches cut into us.  But when the breath of God blows through us, sweet and lyrical music fills the air.  Some of us are like a chalice.  We have been hewn from the mud and rock and then set into a burning fire to separate out the impurities.  We have then been pounded by a mallet as we are formed.  When God fills us, we are like the Merciful wine that is offered on the altar at mass, poured out to the world and bringing a refreshing drink to those who are thirsty for union and communion.  Still some are like a birds nest.  They have been shaped by the hard work of their parents.  They take their form through tenderness.  Just as a nests shape comes from the warm and gentle breast of a mother bird, so too do some souls find their shape.  When God flows through this tender and loving vessel, security and love abound.  

 Whatever your shape, all of us had to be broken first.  Each of us have been formed, perhaps broken, through the circumstances of our lives.  

Take the story of David.  He was considered a weak, small, useless man.  He was the smallest of eight brothers and considered good for nothing but herding sheep.  Yet God chose David to be King.  Then David was hunted like a dog by Saul.  For years he survived as a fugitive living in cold caves, he was lied to, betrayed, forsaken even by his own son.  Because of these wounds, he acted out in sin.  Sometimes we sin because we are running away from dealing with the painful reality of something.   How did David try to most probably to numb the pain of it all.  He committed adultery, murder even! Yet we read in the gospel that David is one of the most influential and spiritual persons spoken of in the Old Testament.  In fact, Jesus came from the line of David.  God truly does work through broken vessels.  

There is nothing that God cannot forgive nor transform through His healing mercy.  

While we understand we are broken, we can sometimes get impatient with the brokeness of our spouse.  The good news is that our spouse is often the very person uniquely equipped to enable us to carry our own cross in life.   Our spouse is our Simon and God has chosen them to be a part of our lives for a reason.  That reason is the sanctification of one another so that we may enter more deeply into union and communion.   I dearly love my husband and I need him to live out my life because we are all called to love.  I believe that we are soul mates.  

Every year I am more convinced of the fact my husband is uniquely qualified to help me heal my wounds and grow in holiness. God makes no mistakes. Have you ever noticed that you tend to pick a spouse that seems to bring out the worst in you at times? That is actually a mercy. What???

Let me explain. If you read my article on Healing the Whole person you will remember that the devil is so clever that he often hides himself in old wounds and we, of our own free will bind him there.  He will propose something to us in a time of pain such as "No one will ever really love you" and in our pain we may agree with this lie.  Now we have a rejection wound.  We may then have a need to control others or to constantly seek approval because of this and in doing so we constantly feel the pain of the judgment we have made which is that our spouse can never really love us.  This causes so many problems as you can well imagine.  

Many addictions result from trying to numb the pain that comes from our wounds.  

Our spouse can be a bright florescent light that shines deep into our most secret places and exposes those wounds. This is a mercy of God.  We cannot change what we don't acknowledge and the enemy likes to hide in the dark.  When we expose the lies, we become aware of them.  When we are aware of them we can begin to invite God into them so as to heal.  

God knew that our spouse would be the person who could best help us carry our cross. Just like Simon, they may not want to do it at first or even resist, but just as Simon realized what he was carrying,  the importance of it, so too will our spouse see when God opens our eyes to it.  Can you see your spouses cross? Are you being asked to carry it for awhile? Let me help you to see.

Marriage is more than just a vow you make to someone you want to spend your life with.  Marriage is conduit of grace, it is a sacrament.  

 In fact in the Summa, written by St. Thomas Aquinas, we are told that  grace flows within the sacrament of marriage and that it sanctifies us. It says when two persons free from mortal sin come together in the marital embrace, grace pours into their souls enabling them to more rightly love one another and grow in holiness.  The marital embrace, understood in the above context,  is a means by which we can find remedy to concupiscence.  Christ came to make all things new and we are no exception.  Marriage is a means by which we can be sanctified.  

God desires for us to grow in holiness.   Our wounds, when we allow Christ in to transform us, become our greatest glory, just as Christ's wounds were transformed after the resurrection.  

Why? Because there is victory after the suffering.  I think that is why we have the bible story of Thomas asking to put his fingers into Christs hands and side.  It is to show us, that the wounds do not go away, they become transformed, they become a "sign" of victory and glory, perhaps our greatest gifts will now flow from this very place we thought were something to hide from the world.   The devil wants us to stay away from our wounds because he wants us to remain in the suffering, the blame and the shame. This is where he can manipulate us and keep us from entering into the call to love one another.  If we are called to be tabernacles, bringing Christ to others, think how disabled we would be if we thought we had nothing to share or that no one would be interested in anything we had to offer.  

I have numerous faults, so does my husband. Despite my husbands faults, I believe him to be a loving, gentle and generous husband and father.  If not for the love he has demonstrated to me over the past 18years, I would not have had the courage to go into my own wounds and encounter the living Christ there.   I tremble when I think of where I  would be now if not for him. 

It is interesting that , because of my past abuse in childhood, the most healing quality I have found in my husband is his quick humor and whit. I truly believe that his humor is another mercy given to me by God. In fact, when I decided to marry my husband I said to him “I am going to laugh so much in our marriage that when we are old and living in an old folks home I am going to be sitting in a rocking chair laughing, just remembering all the funny things from our life together”. 

In keeping with my husbands humor he replied back “Ya, and I will be saying; Why do you keep putting me in a room with that lady I told you I don't know her”. 

It was this humor and joy that convinced me very early on,  that I needed to be with him my whole life long.  I believed this would be the only way I was going to make it through this world.  The world can sometimes be  anything but joyful.  In a life filled with sorrow and abuse, I get so caught up proving myself, defending myself or fighting everyone that I forget to find joy in my life.

No joy.  Yup, that would be me without my husband.  He makes me laugh when my first instinct is to complain or judge or get angry because of my temperament (choleric).  He is so good at difussing my anger.  What is your spouse good at?  Is there anything that they have brought to your life that you are grateful for?

Let me tell you, that I know first hand how devastating it can be when your spouse is less than perfect.  Many people are fighting to keep their marriages together in today's world.  I am no exception.  My husband is battling his own dragons and because I am so close to him, I too feel the flames.   However, we must realize who we are fighting and it is not each other. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph 6:12

When we realize the fight is not against our spouse but FOR our spouse then we can allow love to overcome our anger.  Do not lose hope, you are not alone.   We are all feeling the painful blows of the mallet, the scorching heat of the fire, the sharp hallowing out from the knife as we are formed more perfectly through our suffering.  We can offer our suffering to God.  Mother Theresa said once that she imagines that the closer Christ leans in to kiss you on your cheek, the more you will feel the thorns on his crown pierce your own skin.  The closer we get to Christ the more we will feel the sting, the ache and the pain of others brokeness and sin.  We have been made for relationship.  We are more able to bear the trials and difficulties of life when we are united with others and as a mystical body of Christ we can unite our sufferings with Christ on the Cross.

Long suffering is part of what's needed.  That can only come if your willing to open yourself to forgiveness, patience and trust in God to make all things right.  If you are suffering and overcome with despair, fear not! You are not alone.  
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."
Matthew 7:7
Ask and you shall receive, ask for long suffering.  Pray the words of Caryll Houselander "Jesus, take my heart and give me yours".   Love endures all things, believes all things, 

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through ... Lovebears all things, believes all things, hopes all thingsendures all things. 1 Cor 13:7

We are all very powerful means by which to aid our spouse in overcoming the many adversities and trials that threaten our marriages.  I know this because I have seen it happen in my own marriage.  If you are looking for hope and healing, then read the letter I wrote to my husband during a major trial.  This particular trial would have ended some marriages.  I believe it is the love of God that opened my heart to realize I was being called to bring Christ to a very wounded man.  I invite you do pray about how you might be hearing the same call.  


You have worth and value that you did not earn or merit, it was a gift, you are not a dung heap covered with snow, you are snow covered with dung.  The dung is what the enemy keeps trying to heap on you, but through confession it is removed.  The sacraments give us the grace, we CAN NOT do it ourselves.  You are a unique and unrepeatable human being made in the image and likeness of God and where made for union and communion with Him.  Through your vocation of husband and father you are given a foretaste of heaven and paradise with your family.  Our marriage is meant to be an icon, pointing you to what awaits us, here we experience union and communion with each other as a foreshadowing of true union and communion. 

As much as you love me and I love you, Christ the divine lover, loves and desires you more.  He thirsts for you, he aches for you, to hold you and comfort you.  The enemy will try and keep you in the bowels and stench of self loathing.  He will lead you to believe that the way you feel about yourself is the way that God feels about you, or your children, or me.  THE DEVIL IS THE ENEMY AND THE LIAR.  God loves us, you are his child.  When our children defy us or act like their utmost chaotic and self destructive worst, as their father, do you hate them? Do you loath them? Is your first emotion and desire one of disgust and desire to repudiate them or punish them or to wish they never existed? No! Your first reaction, if it is like mine, is sorrow.  Deep grief and sorrow.  This is God's heart for you and for me.  He sees how we act like animals and his heart is grieved as any father would and He does everything in His power to reveal His love to us so that we might turn to Him and believe that He knows best. 

The world is a very cruel place and Satan desires to sneak in and make you believe that you have no worth, he desires to keep you weak in faith so that he can manipulate you.  Why?  Prov 23:7 - For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. 

The devil is clever, but God is even more so.  When you think this is too hard...tell yourself I can not do this, but God can.   Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

I believe that God gave you me because God knew how very much I would love you and since He understood how very far removed your family would take you in believing or every knowing what God's grace and love could be, perhaps God knew that through my love that you would see God's love and that this would give you the courage to believe He exists.  

Shawn, if I could wave a magic wand and make it better I most certainly would, but God's ways are not our ways and through these trials and tribulations our marriage will blossom beyond all expectations and our spirits will be renewed and we will find more love for each other than we possibly knew we had.  Our hearts must be stretched if we are to love more, God is stretching our hearts, which is very painful, but it is a glorious gift for us!  If we did not experience this painful stretching, our hearts would not be open or big enough to fit inside of it all that God desires to pour into us.  He is giving us more! A larger portion, because he favor's us, be brave and remain steadfast because  Romans 8:28 "in all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good"

I am only quoting scripture because I want to combat those voices that keep lying to you.  Those voices will try to get you to believe that I am somehow mistaken, that any words I use to convince you of worth are because I am somehow blinded by love and so can not see or "know" the real you.  But if I use the words of God, those voices must be silent!  God knows all, He sees all and knows everything, even your deepest darkest secrets, even the most evil thing that you have done and yet, God still loves you.  Do not depend on my love to get you through this because the enemy will use this weakness against you.  Use the love God has for you, because He loves you as you love your own children, regardless of faults and failures.  You are his son and he knew what he was getting when He created you, you are no surprise to God, yet....He wanted you and created you despite His knowledge that you would fail Him. Isn't that great!!!  I tell myself that all the time when I am feeling miserable.  God knew  what He was getting when He made me, I am no surprise to God and He created me anyways. 

Just know I love you.  This is doable.  I will continue to show you that I love you and that we can do this together. May Our Blessed Mother wrap you in her arms and kiss your forehead for me, may Christ's tender mercy flow and spill out as a salve on your heart through the healing power of the Holy Spirit, May God the Father, embrace the man that he created revealing to you that you are a great joy and consolation to Him regardless of your faults. 

Loving you now and forever,
Your Wife,
Christina KING

Please pray for us, we really need it right now.