Monthly Archives: June 2010

…for marriage!

My dear friends Kevin and Holly have been married for nearly a week now.

On the surface, it seems a fairly normal thing to me. People get married. They have children and become families. They pay mortgages, eat together, and occasionally have fights. That sort of thing.

And just a bit below this surface, the thought of people that I’ve known for some time now, the thought of them beginning this kind of life, is beyond my comprehension. Because they are entering into a stage of life that is reserved for grown-ups.

Then I remember that I myself am getting older. We are all getting older.

When you’re a Christian, in America, you don’t really start seriously talking about sex until you begin to hear the wedding bells go off. Or, at least until they go off for your friends. A few of my friends have been egging Kevin on, laughing, making promises to provoke him in the coming months about the sex we’re not getting.

And this is good. This is funny. Friends are not only there for you to be serious with, but also to laugh with, too.

Yet, I wonder if this also scratches at the surface of something that we as Christians, or perhaps, even as human beings in general, overlook. It’s probably just a eighteen to twenty-two year old thing. Or maybe even a eighteen to thirty year old thing. But spoken or unspoken, the way that young people tend to view marriage is,

walking down the altar = sex

We have names for this joke at my school. We call it “ring before spring”. My friend Katie the Violinist calls her school “Moody Bridal Institute”. She, like many of my friends who will be seniors this fall, talk about marriage bitterly. With not-so-subtle hints of jealousy.

And I join in, too. Because being single isn’t all that bad. Except in how it absolutely is.

My friends and I are really great at following this unwritten, universal process of grieving over singledom. We go from general talk of marriage, to jealousy, to questioning the motives of our married friends, to self-pity. And repeat.

I spend a great deal of time rationalizing and planning how I will never marry. How I will throw away marriage, how it doesn’t work for other people and how it will not work for me. I list my quirks. I think about how I sleep through multiple alarms. I think about my love handles. I think about my absent-mindedness. I picture my life as a bachelor, with a few flings here and there. Maybe a one-night stand or two. Or three.

Or four.

Which, this sounds great to selfish people like myself. And then I do things like go to weddings, where I am slapped in the face with reality. With grown-up things. With responsibility.

After spending all this time thinking about me and how my life will be if I do X, Y, Z, I sit down in a church pew and discover that weddings really have nothing to do with you. Everything in marriage is about what is not you.

Rather, we are privileged spectators of beauty. And we are stewards to our spouses, but only to a point; we are merely pieces in a greater puzzle, characters in a greater story.

Once upon a time, nearly all Christians called themselves Catholics. And once upon a time, they viewed marriage as something transcendent. As an act of worship. And I’ve been wondering if perhaps more of us should view marriage in this light.

In watching Kevin and Holly looking longingly into each others eyes as they repeated the minister’s words, I think I saw a little bit of what must have been God.

And in that moment, my thoughts of me-ness dissipated. I forgot my woes and silly complaints and remembered that, there some things in this world are indeed beautiful. Sacred. Not that the life of a bachelor is necessarily above forgiveness, but that there is something about married life that is to be respected; to be revered.

As for marriage and myself, I can’t really say. What I can say; what I have been learning recently, is that it is indeed a big deal. Which is, probably fairly obvious to most.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m thankful for marriage. I’m thankful for the celebration that comes with the joining of dear friends. I’m thankful for what a reminder it is that some things in this world are still sacred. Because all too often, I tend to forget this.

What are you thankful for today?

…for moving on!

I am now officially a senior in College.

Technically, this has been the case for quite some time. But numbers and technicalities are no match for the reality of things.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. I’ve been baptized. I’ve gone to weddings and watched people exchange vows who I used to rant about relationships with. I’m starting an internship next week and am going to get a taste of what Psychology looks like outside the classroom. I’m doing independent research over the summer. I’m doing volunteer work. I completed therapy with my dear friend Jaymie. I’ve said countless farewells to dear friends. I’m studying for the GRE. I got a haircut.

I hate not blogging for a long time, because whenever I return to the blogging world, I tend to spend my time explaining why I haven’t been blogging, and then I end up sounding like a pretentious author who writes a book in which he explains his reasoning for writing the book. I’m in the middle of G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, and I hate what I’ve read so far. It reminds me too much of the “freethinking” books I’ve read by atheists when I questioned my faith in High School.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m not really sure where to start. Moving on is strange. Twenty-years old is young, but it’s just old enough for “adult” things to happen to your friends and yourself. It’s just old enough for “reality” to set in. I spent a lot of time this past semester soul searching, leisure reading, praying, meditating, and so forth. I stopped checking my grades, and studied in my classes not for grades so much as for appreciating and internalizing the concepts and ideas my teachers were teaching me.

Baptism is weird. Marriage is weird. Being done with therapy is weird.

These things are weird to me in the same way that watching The Office is now weird, in that Jim and Pam finally got married. And yet, the show still goes on. I said a bunch of things at my baptism to dear friends and a few plaid-wearing strangers. So much of my faith and desire to “get serious” these past few months culminated in one key moment underwater, and yet I spend most of my days complaining and doing double takes of cute girls who are way out of my league. I’m done with therapy, and yet still remain very anxious about the future, and have trouble viewing things in a positive light.

And yet, life goes on.

Thoughts of the Nose family often cross my mind. Where are they now? How are they now? Can they move on? Will they ever move on? And in these thoughts, I’ve been asking myself what moving on even looks like. I found closure this past semester in a friendship that turned to infatuation, and yet my feelings still manage to briefly make cameo appearances in my life every now and then, like lightning flashes.

In many late night conversations with dear friends, we have been asking each other,

Where

do

we

go

from

here

?

I think the most frustrating thing about this question is that I don’t have a direct answer. When I asked Jaymie this question, I wanted a disposable answer that I could tuck away and hold onto. Instead, I got something bolder; something more frightening. And maybe, just maybe, it was something that I needed.

Jaymie shrugged her shoulders, and with a smile on her face, told me that what lay ahead was up to me.

And for this, I am thankful. I’ve been so busy lately with the noise of life that I haven’t known where to begin to be thankful, or even what to be thankful for, even. I’ve been so focused on balancing the millions of new changes taking place in my life and in the lives of my friends that I haven’t realized just how much of how I react to these things is up to me.

The other night, I was telling my friend Andrew just how much I hate not being in control, and how terrified I was whenever I thought about the future. I told him about how I was frustrated with my closest friends, in how I seem unable to be there for them in the ways that I have hoped; in how their lives are going in different directions than mine. I told him about how I hated that I wasn’t close to my family in the ways that I wished I was. I told him about how I hated how I felt that I ceased to stand out at all in the Psychology major; that as a student I feel as though I fall through the cracks.

And in sharing our grievances, the two of us realized that perhaps, in this life, none of us find the closure that we so desperately seek. In encouraging each other, I found that “moving on” is not so much an event as it is an eternal state of mind.

It is for this that I am thankful. I am thankful for the ability to continually grow and move forward with my life, despite daily stresses and anxieties. I am thankful for the many changes taking place in my life right now; for finding God in the silence that follows change. What are you thankful for today?