Saturday, August 31, 2013

Real. True. Love.

Jesse & I have our fair share of arguments.  Sometimes they have to do with important issues & other times they are less significant.  As we approach our sixth wedding anniversary, I have been thinking about all the times we got angry with each other in the previous six (ten - if you count our dating/courtship period before getting married) years.

What I've realized about all our previous fights is this: try as I might, there were really very few arguments where I could recall the actual topic we were fighting about.  My memories were much clearer when remembering the things we said/did during our arguments.  And that really spoke volumes to me about the importance of my actions.  When Jesse gives talks to his religious education teachers, he tells them that the kids won't remember what you taught them, they'll remember who you were.  I think the same goes for how we treat not only our spouses, but our family members, friends, co-workers and complete strangers.

Jesse & I have given countless talks on marriage for our local Pre-Cana retreats.  One of the things we stress to these soon-to-be-married couples is the importance of fighting fair, especially during the inevitable arguments.  If you're thinking about winning the argument, then that means your spouse will lose.  And I don't know about you, but I don't want to hurt Jesse or fight in such a way that he feels like less of a husband.  This is not to say that we have idyllic arguments, but we usually try our best to vocalize how we are feeling.  These skills have gotten better the longer we've been married (after all, we've had lots of practice!).

That being said, when we do have arguments & need some time apart to blow off some steam, I usually end up pouring my energy into something.  As a result, my dishes are usually done, a load of laundry gets folded or the bathroom gets cleaned.  Recently, I heard this song, which I think is my new post-argument anthem. Although it might be a little harsh for some, I find the frank emotions of the song point to the irony of a strong, committed marriage.  After all, when you devote yourself to a lifelong Sacrament, you are going to feel crazy with your spouse sometimes.  But the irony is that even though he may drive me crazy, at the end of the day, I feel God's presence working in my life, in our marriage, and I can't imagine myself anywhere else.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

When Anxiety Attacks...

The last few weeks (or months depending on when you start counting) have been a whirlwind of craziness.  Granted, I know our everyday routine isn't exactly simple.  However I can't help but feeling like things have been extra crazy as of late.  I have spent all summer just going & going & going.  My to-do lists have been growing & I see no sign of an end.  I've had a few bouts of insomnia even though I'm exhausted most of the time.  I'm just running from one fire to the next, trying to put them out.

I have come to realize that this is no way to live.  I miss having some quiet time for myself, time to sleep, read/blog, or just to play with the girls.  I've recently had Philippians 4:6 come into my path several times.  I think it's a not-so-subtle message from the Almighty that I need to make a part of my daily recitation.

So, I'm going to try my hardest to present all my anxieties to God, knowing that He will take care of them.  Certainly this approach can be challenging because it requires surrender.  But I think we all could use a life jacket when we feel like we're drowning.  And God's love provides the best life jacket available!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Helping the "Needy"

My husband is a very giving person.  Whether he's shuttling kids to youth group, delivering food pantry goods to families with bare cupboards or counseling those in times of crisis, it seems he is always helping others.  These acts certainly go along with the duties of being a youth minister, but he goes beyond that & takes the disciple nature to another level.  My heart is warmed every time I see the needy families he helps...

...Unless the "neediness" of these families is questioned.

Over the years, there have been times when I find out that the people who are the recipients of our time & efforts aren't as needy as they let on.  Poor financial choices tend to drive some of these needy people to our front door.  I'm not talking about people who barely make enough to pay their bills.  I'm referring to those who take from the food pantry while buying newer cars, gadgets, video games or other "extras."  Recently, someone told Jesse that they had no money to buy an A/C unit that was desperately needed.  So, we were able to come up with a unit & took it to their house to drop off.  I was more than a little surprised to see they had just purchased a huge, brand new flat screen TV.  Another time, someone actually had the audacity to request specific brands of food be stocked at the food pantry since those were what they liked.

On the surface, both of these (true) examples leave me speechless since I can't imagine how some people can be so forthright, especially when they are the recipients of charitable acts!  However, our society has become very self-focused, so feelings of entitlement & "What's in it for me?" abound.  I suppose it's no wonder people feel they really are needy.  But, it's time we start separating our true needs from our wants & prioritize them.  Of course doing this requires some self-restraint which, in my opinion, is practiced far too infrequently nowadays.

I tend to get easily frustrated by these situations & know this is something that I have to work on.  We are practicing much more due diligence with our giving, which seems unfortunate because it takes the focus away from those who are legitimately in need of assistance.  Even though I don't always recognize it, there are blessings coming through these situations.  After all, as the Prayer of St. Francis states, " is in giving that we receive."  I'll keep reciting this mantra in the hopes it helps me deal with these situations better each time they occur.