Being Married: A Primer on Humility

Okay, so I know I’ve been away from the blogging game recently and Caitlin has been more than compensating with her wonderful writing in my absence, but I’m back with a vengeance and a promise that I’ll be writing more and more in the forseeable future.

As you may or may not know, the primary reason for my absence is that I got married to the most amazing, virtuous, and holy man this summer. June 29, 2013, to be exact. The day was everything I imagined and more, and living my vocation has been such a fulfillment of a lifelong desire I didn’t know I had. Well, more accurately, I didn’t realize how deep that desire went in my heart and in my life in general.

My bridesmaids & I admiring the ring my hubby designed.

My bridesmaids & I admiring the ring my hubby designed.

look! it's me and Caitlin!

look! it’s me and Caitlin!

Suffice it to say marriage has been wonderful – crazy – beautiful – and eye-opening in these first few months. As pretty much any newlywed will tell you, marriage is a completely different experience than the single life. Okay, duh, it’s really really different. But it’s amazing, and I want to share with you one of the things that I’ve realized and learned and hopefully will continue to strive towards in our first few months of marriage.

Humility is, for me, the hardest – but most rewarding – virtue to practice in my daily life. I have a terrible personality flaw in that I think I’m always right, and I don’t like to be told when I’m wrong. (Those of you who know me already know this. I’m just learning it for myself in a much deeper, more impactful way now.) Marriage has thrown my self-importance and my pride outttttttt the window and forced me to examine myself every. single. day. Which is so good for my spiritual development, but really hard to live on a day-to-day basis. I have to be humble in both assessing my successes and my failures in our marriage, and that’s really hard. I hate admitting that I’m wrong – but it happens. Marriage has helped me realize that. I hate being corrected – but I need it, a lot, and my husband does a wonderful job of giving me constructive criticism when I need it. (Let’s be honest – he could probably do it a lot more often and I’d deserve it.)

I could go on and on with things in our marriage that are forcing me to practice humility. But I am just now realizing how rewarding it really is to be humble. To be honestly, truly aware of myself and how little I am in the world and how little I should make myself in our marriage. It has given me a new appreciation for so many things – but the most amazing thing is that every time I force myself to focus on humility, I am a marginally better person. I can feel God’s grace working in me when I focus on humility. I’m happier, more available to my husband, more at peace, less stressed, and more flexible – all things I should be anyway, but focusing on humility produces them as byproducts rather than goals to be checked off a list.

But like I said earlier, learning about my own flaws and growing in humility is noooot easy. Let’s be real, who honestly likes learning about all the ways they are a terrible person? It’s hard, and embarrassing, and difficult to want to do. But it is so worth it. Every time I get irrationally upset that David’s trying to help me, I try to step back and say, okay, Hannah, stop being an idiot. You and he both are new at this, and you are both just trying to help each other get to Heaven. Take a deep breath, say a prayer, and learn from it. I’ve learned that these steps help me immensely in dealing with the situation at hand and also with reminding myself to focus on humility and on the bigger picture. (Props to Fr. Holdren, our priest for marriage prep, for these life-saving tips.)

so so lucky.

so so lucky.

Living husband-and-wife is for real amazing, though. I’m not here to scare you off of marriage – Oh my gosh that one girl on 2CG said it sucked so I’m going to die an old maid!!!~!!@**!!! – but I am here to tell you that it is real and it is worth it. I’m only a baby newlywed but I’m learning so much already that I can’t wait to see where the next 10, 20, 50, and 70 years lead us, together.

I’m going to close with a quote on marriage by Fulton J. Sheen – a quote that keeps popping into my head when I reflect on my marriage, humility, and where I’m going.

“It takes three to make love, not two: you, your spouse, and God. Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another. Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else. Without a central loyalty, life is unfinished.” – Fulton J. Sheen.

Peace & love,
Hannah

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Happy Monday!

A big fat thanks to everyone who reads this blog! I got a crazy amount of response in regards to the latest post and I am so glad it connected with readers. That’s always a worry I have, I know I am passionate about what I’m writing about, but do other people care? Yes, yes they do, apparently.

So thank you for reading and commenting and sharing. Praise God.

Also, do you want more blogs to read? I thought you did.

This blog is written by my friend Emily who is a ray of sunshine and a great FOCUS missionary to boot. She is hilarious and insightful and she writes exactly how she speaks, and I love it.

This blog is written by a former FOCUS missionary who fearlessly led me to Jesus. She is handling unemployment with maturity and grace way beyond her age. She is amazing and you should read her first post (and then encourage her to write more!).

pope-francis-to-young-people

Pain is Pain is Pain

The other day I was engaging in one of my favorite past times: complaining about my life and then quickly regretting being so ungrateful and ending each sentence with, “I know it could be so much worse”.

And then my incredibly wise roommate said, “Pain is pain is pain”. I live with some great people.

So then I was thinking about that statement, and how unfair it is for us to constantly compare our struggles to the struggles of others because we are all different. Yes, being compassionate is always worth it, even if we can’t exactly understand or comprehend what someone is going through.

But we shouldn’t feel guilty about having struggles in our lives, or being frustrated with how things are going. 

We act like there is some kind of cosmic sad formula and if, and only if, all the variables match up, then finally we are allowed to be sad.

That’s not an excuse for letting our emotions rule our every action, or to steep in sadness, or be terrible to our roommates and significant others and friends and family because we are crabby. Obviously these are all hypothetical situations…

So, here are my guidelines for dealing with all that life throws our way.

1. Stop comparing

Just stop it. I think we should all tattoo the brilliant words of Teddy Roosevelt on our foreheads, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. It’s an easy trap that the devil sets for us. My problems aren’t real because so-and-so is dealing with x, y, and z. I should just deal with it. If I was holier/smarter/wiser/older/younger/prettier like so-and-so I would be able to handle it. Let’s stop doing that. Next time you compare yourself to someone, recall one great thing about that person, one great thing about yourself, say a Hail Mary and move on.

2. You are allowed to cry

I mean like, all out, no holds, snot and sobs, ugly cry. We were given hearts and emotions and feelings and sometimes we need to feel them in order to remember that we are humans. We don’t have to bottle it all up. Let me illustrate this with a slightly graphic analogy. If you had to pee, like really had to pee, would you go just a little bit every 10 minutes? No, you’d let it all out and then be done with it.

So be sad and cry and yell and all that, and then move on. Don’t let your emotions rule you, but don’t pretend like you can wrestle them into some kind of hibernation. 

Cry, say a Hail Mary (or two, or 50) and move on.

3. Be honest with God

I’m so bad at faking this. It’s easy to go to prayer and say, “Hello, I’m really mad today but don’t worry, I got this. Great chat, later.” We’d never do that with other people in our lives (and if we do, we need to have a reality check). Another of my brilliant roommates reminded me that, “Real relationships have real emotions”. Seriously, so blessed.

The other day I made a list of all the things that were making anxious and unhappy. Then I went to the chapel and read them all, and then I ripped them up. It felt awesome. I’m not saying it’ll work for everyone and everything, but it worked for me.

So let Him have it, angry words, ugly tears, frustrated feelings, all of it. He died for you, so He can handle your bad day(s).

4. Be grateful

Be sad, and then take time to remember all the things you are blessed with. Write them down, put them on post-it notes, put them in a jar and read one a day, do something. If it’s hard to think of some, start extremely basic. You are reading this sentence so I can safely assume you know how to read. Praise God. And you have the internet, Praise God. Also, breathing. Praise God.

5. Be realistic

You aren’t perfect and no one (this includes you) should expect you to be perfect. You are going to have terrible days/weeks/months/years but we were made in the image of our Father, and we were made for greatness, and “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son”. 

What a guy.

What a guy.

 

Last night we had a woman’s night at Newman and Fr. asked all the women if they had felt anxious (every hand shot up) in the last few days (all the hands continued to stay up). 

We live in an imperfect world. I stub my big toe on my bed frame practically every morning. If that’s not proof of our being made for something greater, I don’t know what is.

 

So cling to Jesus, put on your big boy/big girl pants and take one day at a time!

A Dramatic Dichotomy: Love and Porn

Today, I was sitting in my favorite study spot on campus (The Academic Grind for those Huskers who are curious) and across a very narrow aisle another student was also studying. Well, he was sort of doodling in a notebook. I wasn’t spying on him, I was just close enough to see what he was doing out of my peripherals.

At some point he stopped doodling and grabbed his laptop and opened. Unfortunately I could still see his screen out of the corner of my eye and saw that he had a page of pornography open. He quickly shut it, went to Google and searched for “love poems”.

Now, shame on me for not looking away. I was a little shocked, but I was more upset that I wasn’t as shocked as I should have been. But I wasn’t surprised that a college student was openly viewing porn in a public place on campus. But I was surprised that he closed that window and was searching for love poems online.

We have no idea what love is. We are looking for it in the places that society tells us (which is in pleasure) and we come out empty and wanting more.

And then we google Love Poems.

If I was a braver person I would have said something to him, but instead I’m anonymously voicing my concerns online like a coward.

Here’s something I found on pinterest:

WHAT.

WHAT.

Whaaaaaat the crap does that even mean.

So basically we have no idea what love is. We assume it’s receiving pleasure and when that runs dries (or we become ashamed) we turn to something more substantial. But even that can’t sustain us. We assume love is just giving enough of ourselves to someone to keep us safe and not get destroyed.

I also wanted to write about this because I felt a little braggy in my last post. So, just a great reminder for myself that I am still a scared sinner.

“We love, because he first loved us” — 1 John 4:19

” I may have powers of prophecy, no secret hidden from me, no knowledge too deep for me; I may have utter faith, so that I can move mountains; yet if I lack charity, I count for nothing. I may give away all that I have, to feed the poor; I may give myself up to be burnt at the stake; if I lack charity, it goes for nothing” 1 Cor 13:1-3

Peace.

Defending St. Monica

I am a Spanish major, minoring in Religious Studies at a public university so I was aware of what I was signing up for. Needless to say the last four years have provided many interesting conversations, discussions, arguments, assumptions, etc.

In the class I am currently in, we just finished reading St. Augustine’s Confessions and I wrote an essay about the critical role of his mother, St. Monica, and how without her, I do not believe St. Augustine would have made a complete conversion to the Catholic faith.

Arguably, a bold essay, but it was an opinion piece for the class so…no rules!

Another side note: the professor who teaches this class is one of the nicest I’ve had so far. He puts up with a lot of wackos in our class (this definitely includes me) and handles (for the most part) volatile class discussion with ease.

So today’s conversation came as a real surprise to me.

I went in to his office hours to get my essay back and we discussed the topic a little more in depth, overall he liked my essay (I got an A), but wanted to discuss with me my opinion on St. Monica. He said, (and this is my attempt at the most accurate paraphrasing possible) that he saw Monica’s obsession with her son’s life as a weakness, that she lacked an idea of “self” that he wanted her to “get a life” (that’s a direct quote).

He prefaced this whole statement by admitting to be a “feminist” and saying that his opinion is “certainly a modern one”.

So, in his “modern feminist” opinion, he finds St. Monica a weak example of a woman, too concerned with the lives of her children, unable to have her own life, and that the notion of selfless is old fashioned.

Sts. Augustine and Monica

St. Monica was anything but weak.

I assured my professor that the Catholic Church does not take sainthood or motherhood lightly. I told him that, in my experience as someone who isn’t a mother (but who has a great one) that mothers are anything but weak. I told him that having children and caring about them unconditionally makes you incredibly strong.

He nodded politely, which is fine, and handed back my paper and I walked out.

I’ve had to defend a lot of things in my religion class, but never have I defended motherhood in general. Now, I’m assuming he thinks I’m not a feminist, but I would argue that I’m more a feminist than he is because I am not belittling the biological miracle that is birthing a human being and raising them. There is something incredibly selfless about being a parent (You rock too, Dads) and caring about your children more than yourself. I would like to remind everyone that feminism is, at it’s core, the belief that women deserve the same respect as men. This is not conditional on their occupational decisions. This goes both ways, a woman who doesn’t have children and focuses solely on her career deserves the same amount of respect as a mom who stays at home and has 8 kids. They have the same dignity.

So if that makes me old fashioned, then that’s fine.

Thank you parents of the world for being so great.