Monday, April 29, 2013

A Higher Love



When Roger Ebert died of cancer a few weeks ago, I came across this article he wrote about his wife, whom he adored, and their frequent wanderings and adventures.  Maybe it was just my pregnancy hormones, but I couldn't stop crying.  It was her second marriage and his first, late in life, and he says, "this woman never lost her love, and when it was necessary she forced me to want to live. She was always there believing I could do it, and her love was like a wind forcing me back from the grave."  The image of a woman essentially caring for her terminally ill husband as a full-time job, with patience and fortitude, and even calling him out at times,  just does me in.

The reason why it kills me, I think, stems from a realization I had about myself a while ago; a realization I'm actually not comfortable with at all.  Here goes: as a Christian, I'm embarrassed to say that I often don't feel ready for Heaven.  Not in the sense of being unprepared, though I almost certainly am (aren't we all, except by grace), but in the sense that my fully human, earthly mind can't fathom something that will fill my soul more than being married to my husband and raising our future family.  I find myself secretly hoping the Second Coming won't happen during my lifetime, I tear up immediately when I think of being separated from Andrew, and I struggle sometimes with the idea that, theologically, there's no marriage in Heaven.  There.  I said it.

I feel so immeasurably blessed by my husband, a man who shows me Christ's love in such a real, tangible way.  The thing I wonder and worry about sometimes, though, is if, by loving him so much, I somehow love God less.  I am in awe of my husband, thankful to him, passionate about him, and I trust him completely, in a way that goes far deeper than just feelings.  Shouldn't I see the Father this way, to an even deeper extent?  I know, of course, that Andrew isn't, nor should he be, the ultimate source of my happiness.  I should never make him into an idol.  Still, I feel guilty sometimes.

The thing that brings me peace is the thought that if love and marriage on earth are meant to give us the tiniest glimpse of Heaven, and if Heaven is such a banquet of perfect love, where we're free from our weaknesses and imperfections, I don't even know what I'm missing out on.  Of course it's better than anything I can imagine, because I literally can't imagine it.  For now, I feel like I should constantly be on my knees in thanksgiving for that small window into divine love that He's given me.

Smarter words than mine come to mind.  St. Augustine famously said something like "make me a saint, but not yet."  Get me to Heaven, but not yet.  Maybe he and I are talking about slightly different things here, though I certainly fall victim to pushing off holiness for later.  I pray to desire it now, to be not afraid.  And Victor Hugo concluded Les Miserables with, "to love another person is to see the face of God."    No truer words, I don't think. 

So tell me: have you felt anything like this, like you're failing because you love your fiance or husband so much, but don't always remember to love God with the same intensity and willingness to give?  I love hearing your advice!



9 comments:

  1. What a timely post! I have recently had some (minor) health problems and they necessitated a (again, very minor) surgery. But even though it was minor, I was still afraid, and the reason was not that, really, I was afraid to die, but that the thought of leaving my husband and baby, the thought of the grief they would go through without me, broke my heart. I think like you said, we're supposed to love them in that way--they are a picture of the heavenly joy we will receive. And I also think that that need and desire to stay with them is also a sign that our holy work as wives and mothers isn't finished yet in this life. And that thought can give us some comfort.

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    1. I love your idea, Sarah, that our vocations aren't finished yet; thanks for sharing that! I'll say a prayer for your health and your family =)

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  2. I think it was John Paul II who suggested that because on earth certain married couples become so close (spiritually, emotionally) and because this is closeness a sort of melding of souls, in Heaven those two will share a special bond--after all, two have become one. (I'm not ruling out the possibility that I read between the lines to find something I wanted to believe.)

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    1. I've heard that, too, and am also hopeful that it's real!

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  3. I feel this way too! I've often felt (especially with all the sadness in the world lately), "Lord, please come soon.... but not until I get more time with Luke... and not until we have kids..." I feel guilty for that! I think you're right though. We can't even fathom the love we'll feel in Heaven. So the thought of giving up the love we have here on Earth seems sad to us.

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    1. I'm so glad it's not just me! I understand you completely!

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  4. I loved this post, Stephanie! It's extremely difficult to not make idols of the people we love. I know we're called to love God above all else and that He is supposed to be our ultimate source of happiness... but it's a hard thing, to say the least.

    Thanks again for this fantastic post!

    Vanessa

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  5. There is only one thing I could add to your thoughts. “Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did," Saint Maximilian Kolbe's quote concerning Mary, the Mother of God, can be applied anyone created so tenderly by God, Himself. We must never be afraid of loving someone too much since God loves each and every single one of us more than we can fathom. But we must be considerate of our heavenly Father. If we want to spend so much time with our loved ones here on earth, imagine the burning desire of love God has to be united with us in heaven. We must make the best effort we can to bring our loved ones' souls close to the goal of heaven so to not disappoint our Father. That is all I've got! I hope it makes sense. I agree so much with your post and the comments before mine. Keep up the posts! Thank you.

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