By Rev. Angela Palacious
A wedding lasts a day, but a marriage lasts a lifetime. This is what we all know and yet it is such a temptation to place more emphasis on preparation for the ceremony and reception than on the months and years to follow.
Everything involves a risk at some level, but with prayer and counselling it may be more of a calculated risk than blind leap. Common interests, shared values, honest communication are all vital to the success of a marriage. Words of praise and encouragement are a sustaining grace. Think of the nicest words that anyone has ever spoken to you. Often they are unforgettable words of inspiration that came at a time when you need them most. Imagine being married to someone who is sensitive and caring, handling you with love and respect. Are you such a person yourself?
A love relationship with God has all of these ingredients and more. Holy Scripture is a record of God’s love for us and words of blessing. God says: “I so loved you that I sent my only son that if you believe you will not perish but have everlasting life”; “I will be with you always”; “I chose you to bear fruit”. Being filled with the knowledge of God’s love and responding with whole-hearted love in return is the spiritual base that grounded Our Lord all of his life. It was unbearable to be separated from God because of our sin, but that was the price that had to be paid.
We are placed in the world to be love incarnate ourselves. What does this mean for you on a daily basis? Who in your family needs to hear some special words of kindness because you seldom speak that way to this person? Who on your job may need gentle encouragement without crossing appropriate boundaries? Is there a ministry at church that permits you to give moral support to the discouraged?
Perhaps as a gift to your new in-laws or prospective in-laws, you may want to write a list of the many things you admire about their family, and then do the same thing for your own family, and give it to them. Make it a family exercise, whenever someone has a birthday, to shower the person with sincere affirmation and words of blessing. Indeed, June is the month for showers of rain, and we could all do with words of appreciation from time to time.
The key is not to live for approval but to be secure in God’s love. Ultimately, God should receive all the praise and glory for who we are, and whatever we accomplish. This takes the pressure away from others, and places our neediness in God’s “lap”, keeping us humble and focused on the Lord.
If you are married, considering marriage, or are happily (or miserably) single, ask the Lord to teach you how first to love God with all of your heart soul, mind and strength, and then how to love others with an unconditional, forgiving hear. And don’t forget to love yourself.