First off, happy fifth anniversary, my Love.
From the very beginning, our marriage has been a matter of vocation. Yes, we were (and are!) in love with each other. But more importantly, we wanted to learn how to love each other. We wanted to learn how to give totally of ourselves for the sake of the others. We wanted to help each other get to heaven. Five years in...none of these things have been achieved entirely, but we're growing in that direction.
It's funny, because we did things in a "conventional" way - but in our upside down world where pleasure rules the day and self-control is laughed at, we were, well, a bit unconventional. And, in recent years especially, it's become more and more apparent that the vocation of marriage is itself something that much of culture misunderstands and contradicts. Even asserting that you believe that marriage can only be between a man and a woman parks you solidly in the camp of bigotry. Take it a step further and start talking about openness to life, chastity, prayerful discernment, taking up your cross...and you sound downright crazy!
For better or for worse (pun intended) marriage - traditional, Sacramental marriage - is becoming an act of defiance. And yet, from the outside, it may not look all that different. People wouldn't look at us on the street and say, "Oh, I bet that they don't use birth control and they most definitely had con-celebrating priests at their wedding Mass!" No, people look at us and (especially because we currently have only two children and seem to naturally space them pretty far apart) and think, "Oh, what a nice, normal family."
And, in a lot of ways, we're not drastically different from other families. But, if you really live out the Sacrament of Marriage, it changes you. And the changes are uncomfortable. And the changes are internal. The sacrifices are secret, and sometimes painful and unappreciated.
Because, when prayer is a part of your marriage, you add another person in to the picture. And His opinion begins to matter alot to you. And sometimes, His ideas on things are different than yours. And so, you learn to trust.
I could get into all sorts of specifics here, but the point is - God's ways are not our ways. And God's plans are not our plans. And when we take that leap of faith and decide to ask Him to be a part of our marriage - well, things often end up looking much less comfortable and very different than what we envisioned.
I remember, when in high school and really starting to make my faith my own, one day deciding that I didn't want my life to be ordinary. Naturally, I though that meant that, "God is going to force me to be a nun!" Imagine my surprise when I realized He was calling me to marriage. But do you know what? My life has been far from ordinary. And do you know what else? I wouldn't change a thing about it.
Because when God gave me this incredible man as my vocation, He changed me. He made me love in a way I never thought possible. He made me willing to step out of my comfort zone, to be willing to do things that might not be popular in the eyes of the world - for the sake of love. Ultimately, that is what a vocation is. God hooks you with His love - often working through another person or a whole "order" or "diocese" of people! - and when you say yes...you say yes because of that love. Then, He gives you the grace to keep saying yes, and to keep loving. And one day you are surprised to see how much your heart has been changed by sacrificial love.
I trust God so much more now, because of my husband. Andrew has shown me God's love in such an incredible way. More importantly, he has taken me by the hand and decided to walk this path to heaven together with me. This isn't to say that a single day is easy. We've had our share of crosses, but we've also had so much grace. And I am convinced that that grace is the grace that comes from the Sacrament of Marriage. I'm convinced that we couldn't have made it through even a single day of our marriage were it not for that grace.
And my heart overflows with gratitude for this precious vocation of mine. In the words of St. Therese, "My vocation is love!"
Here's to many more years together, my Love.