A List about Lists

Almost all of us girls have done it.  Perhaps it was after a hard break up, a long time spent daydreaming or a genuine hope to prepare for the future, but we’ve written down the infamous list.

Perhaps your list changed as you grew older and your priorities changed.  But the future spouse list was something we could jot down and edit as life changed. 

There is nothing wrong with knowing what is important to you in a spouse. There is a problem, however, when your list begins to look more and more like a catalog order form with specifics planned out to the most minute detail for husband characteristics.

God has a heart that will love you at you worst,
and arms that will hold you at your weakest.  

Your list, if you decided to write one, should not be centered around physical characteristics.  So, for instance, it should not read as such:

1) He should have blonde hair.
2) He should have green eyes.
3) Must be minimally 6’3″

What will happen when you meet a great, Catholic guy who has dark hair, blue eyes and is pushing 6’1″?  There is nothing wrong with desiring a physical attraction.  In fact, that is important for marriage! Yet if physical characteristics are the deciding factor, and the final factor for yes-or-no, you may find yourself disappointed. 

So if that isn’t the list you should write, what would a list for a future husband look like?  A good Bible verse to apply to this situation is 1 Samuel 16:7, which says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”

There is even a Proverb for that: Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting.”

But why is it important to have a list, or even an idea of what we would like in a future spouse?  Simply put, females are emotional.  We can think we have it all down, but let’s be honest, it can be incredibly easy to let a red flag fall by the wayside of our consciousness simply because a guy acts like a gentleman, or tell us that we look pretty when we think we resemble what Jonah looked like after three days in the stomach of a fish.

Having a concept of what a Godly future husband looks like makes it very easy to quickly differentiate between whether or not a guy is going to be an acquaintance, friend or, if God wills it, more than a friend.

Your list should be based off of desirable, sustaining characteristics.  Despite the desire to stay young forever, we will grow older.  And when you are with your husband after twenty years of marriage, the color of his hair is going to have a lot less impact on your marriage than the contents of his heart.

Some ideas for your future spouse list?  Here is mine for comparison:

1) He is a strong man whose Catholicism is invasive: A blatant and passionate faith that infects every aspect of his life.

2)  He is someone who I would want our future children to mimic and look to as an example for what someone striving for holiness looks like.  He is an image for how our children will view God as a father.

3)  He is a man can laugh with me and not at me.  He can balance out my serious side, and has advice for even the most self-assumed dismal situations.

4)  He makes me a better person – and can say I do the same for him.  

Be prepared.  Having standards that you wish to see in your future spouse will not always make you the most popular person at the worldly-self-gratification-modern-culture party.  You will be picked out and told that ‘You think you are all that’, and ‘I don’t know why any guy would want to deal with you,’ and ‘Don’t you just think you are a little princess who gets to demand those things.’  Believe me, I’ve heard those…and worse.

The thing is, you don’t need scores of guys.  Primarily, you need one – and He’s loved you enough to die for you.  Once your heart is full of Christ, He’ll lead the right man of God into your life in His right timing.  

Words that should be said
first to Christ.

And each of the characteristics that you pray for in your future spouse do not exists as a one way street.  If you pray that your future husband is patient, also realize that you are praying for opportunities for you to practice your own patience.

An additional question to put this process in perspective: If the man who you prayed for showed up in your life today, would he be interested in you as a Catholic woman by the way you live your day-to-day life?  Be prepared to hold yourself to the same standards you pray he is living by.

The most important thing to remember is that God’s timing is always the best.  He knows you better than anyone ever will…and even better than you know yourself.  Wait on Him, wait patiently for the Lord.  Don’t lose heart, be strong of heart and wait on the Lord (Psalm 27:14).

Si vis amari ama,

Chloe M. 

The Long Way Home

We know that we were made for so much than ordinary lives, it’s time for us to more than just survive.  We were made to thrive.”
– Casting Crowns, Thrive

This is not our home.  As much as we are aware of this fact, sometimes its reality can press upon us.  A sudden death, incurable illness, or natural disasters can certainly remind us of our own mortality.  So, what are we to do?

Saint Augustine contemplated the phenomena extensively on his writings concerning what he labeled as the “two cities.”

In the work “City of God,” Augustine says, “The earthly city glories in itself, the Heavenly City glories in the Lord.” Later, he continues on the subject: 
“The earthly [city] has made for herself, according to her heart’s desire, false gods out of any sources at all, even out of human beings, that she might adore them with sacrifices. The heavenly one, on the other hand, living like a wayfarer in this world, makes no false gods for herself. On the contrary, she herself is made by the true God that she may be herself a true sacrifice to Him.” 

Predominately, because man himself is a physical being dwelling on a physical earth, his natural inclination is to focus on his immediate surrounding.  Yet, even Christ himself told us in Matthew 6:25-27 to not make this our primary focus, when He says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Yet we do worry.  We worry about what we should order for dinner, or what way we should drive home on the way to work.  We can also worry about larger things that pertain to our future here on earth.  Where we will live, or where our career emphasis will be placed.

Contrastingly, we live with the knowledge of a second city – one that is off in the distance.  Perhaps a final destination that we tend to dismiss because of the seeming magnitude of distance between our current state of life and that supposed end of the road.  Yet it exists indeed, despite our acknowledgement, or lack thereof.

By no means is this saying that our current material situation is dismissive or unworthy.  After all, the world in which we reside was created by a Divine maker. Yet even that which is created for good can become corruptible.   

Augustine: The original tale of two cities

The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 385 says, “God is infinitely good  and all His works are good.  Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitation proper to creatures: and above all, the question of moral evil.”  

The teaching of the Catholic Church is that, because of original sin, man cannot do anything out of supernatural love unless God gives him special grace to do so.  Thomas Aquinas wrote that special grace is necessary for man to do any supernaturally good act, to love God, to fulfill God’s commandments, to gain eternal life, to prepare for salvation, to rise from sin, to avoid sin, and to persevere.  (These issues and more are expertly analyzed by James Akin in his article “A tiptoe through TULIP” in which he looks at the five main points of Calvinism emphasis in the Protestant religions.)

Perhaps the best way to compare these two cities is to analyze concept of a journey.  This analogy is most widely recognized in the allegory of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.  We do not exist in this earth to wallow in self pity for our misfortune.  Instead, this life is to be spent improving the lives (both physically and spiritually) of our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as drawing closer to God Himself.

Just as if you were on a road trip, the day-to-day traveling is incredibly significant.  You cannot get from point A to point C without passing through point B.  However, if you forget you are headed to point C, you can spend too much emphasis on your time in point B.  All of life must be focused with the end in mind.

What graces for the journey come from the Catholic Church!

Life is a journey.  Thankfully, praise God, we are on the path with the best traveling companion, our Lord Jesus Christ, present physically here on earth in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

 Drawing close to Him most definitely makes the road easier and the burden lighter here on earth, and what beautiful relationship with Him that will come to total fruition upon the entrance into the everlasting city.

Happy travels!

Si vis amari ama,

Chloe M. 

Without Shame

“Then the man said, ‘This at last is <sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”>bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was <sup class="crossreference" value="(C)”>taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
– Genesis 2:23-25

Despite what the world portrays, the act of sex isn’t the definition of intimacy.  Induced by the culture and popular opinion, many have come to think of the terms ‘sex’ and ‘love’ as synonymous.  This concept is found in all debates about relationships.  It is assumed by the world that if you love someone, then the next logical step is to give yourself to them physically.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

True intimacy is in-to-me-see.  Looking at the other person with the eyes of Christ and wanting their good above your desire for pleasure.  It is a combining of the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of a human being.  Intimacy that wills the good of the other before the good of oneself sounds really good in words….but it isn’t so easy in actions.

Authentic intimacy outlasts the
worlds definition of beauty

When did intimacy become such a fragile concept?  Because, back in the beginning, sin won out in the human decision between the true love of God and the illusion of grandeur offered by a certain conniving snake.  Before the fall, man and woman were naked without shame – both with each other and with their openness to God’s plan for their lives.  Yet after the fall, the first action of the man and woman was to sew fig leaves and hide from God.

Physical intimacy, in the true and only sanctioned, holy place of marriage, is the ability for a husband and wife to be knit together at the level of heart, mind, body and soul.  Without shame, because there is a commitment to each other for life.  Anything outside of this context is a cheap fake of the reality.

For instance, contracepted sex in marriage is a fallacy.  With the very intimate act of sex in marriage, you give yourself freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully.  It is not only bonding with another person physically, but on a heart level.  Contraception halts that bonding.  With their bodies, the couple is naked, but they are not without shame, even if they claim to be.  Because they feel the need to use contraception to prevent a pregnancy, they act ashamed of their fertility. 

As if children are shameful and fertility is disease worth avoiding.
In his book, Soul Cravings, Erwin Raphael McManus writes, “Sex can be the most intimate and beautiful expression of love, but we are only lying to ourselves when we act as if sex is proof of love. Too many men demand sex as proof of love; too many women have given sex in hopes of love. We live in a world of users where we abuse each other to dull the pain of aloneness. We all long for intimacy, and physical contact can appear as intimacy, at least for a moment.”

True, authentic love isn’t easy. 

So true intimacy between a man and a woman in a marriage covenant is a very beautiful gift from God.  It is being without shame in every aspect of life – spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally.  It is not only sex – although sex is a vehicle for intimacy to develop in – but so much more.

It means looking at another person – looking at their hopes, dreams, loves, wishes, struggles, and flaws – and loving them because of and in spite of these.  It also involves opening up to your spouse

in such a way that they see into you as well.  It is putting their human hearts into the hands of a divine lover, and walking side by side towards the plan He has for them.

Love is not an emotion – it is a decision.  It doesn’t always ‘feel good.’  The ultimate example of love is Christ, laying down his life for those who crucified him.  It didn’t ‘feel good’ to die from suffocation, weighed down by your own body, struggling to breathe.  Love, sacrificial love, is a decision made when the going gets hard. 

Do not reduce intimacy to sex.  See it as the whole gift as it is – an expression of authentic love according to God’s design. 

Si vis amari ama,

Chloe M.