So, when we were together chastity was a struggle. What I fought even more, if you can believe it, was purity in my own heart. Even when I was apart from Andrew, I couldn't get the devil off my back. Between my engagement and my job, I was more determined than I'd ever been to be pure in my thoughts, words, and actions, yet at the same time, I was having a harder time of it than ever. I was constantly going back to confession for what felt like the same old sins, and there were a few times when I just broke down with anxiety. On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a day when Our Lady's conception crushed the head of evil, I was consumed with worries about money and about my worth as a woman. Rather than looking to Mary as a perfect model of faith, beauty, and purity, as I usually do, I saw her as an unattainable ideal whom I could never come close to imitating. It felt like one thing after another, and some days, I had a really hard time not seeing my marriage as a finish line I couldn't wait to just stagger across, when the whole fight would presumably be over.
Have you experienced anything like this? Being engaged is so exciting- you're planning your life together in such a concrete way, you're growing closer emotionally, and you're probably spending more time together. All of those things are good and beautiful, but they can also add up to serious temptation. Most people probably wonder why, if it's such a battle, not to just give in and stop fighting. But I knew I wasn't just following the rules. I was so internally, happily convinced of the right path, knowing it was the best way to show my love. I'm not saying all this to depress you. Instead, I want to encourage you and remind you that it's not just you. There were times when I felt so unworthy of my friends, my reputation, and Andrew's love. I felt like a big fake. It's that feeling of, "if only they knew." But girls, believe with your whole heart that you are good. You are worthy. You are also human, and the Lord delights in our humanity, flaws and all. Looking back, I'm sure that through every attack on my purity, I was receiving graces I didn't even know about. So ask for the grace to refuse your temptations, to silence the part of you that feels unworthy, and to endure whatever trials your relationship is going through. Run to His mercy as many times as you need to, and be renewed. The Father is so loving and so gentle with us- remember to be that to yourself, too.
A Benedicitine monk told me once to combat spiritual warfare by standing between the pillars of Our Lady and the Eucharist. He said that when we recognize darkness, to say, "Evil, I reject you. I claim victory. I claim the Cross." Easier said than done, maybe, but it really is so powerful. You have my prayers. Now go claim what is good, true, and beautiful and claim what's yours.