Maybe you have heard the phrase, “Your making me a saint…” Typically this expression is used sarcastically when your spouse is testing your patience, and think it is a funny phrase, but I propose to use it here with a positive spin.
Marriage has a two fold purpose: the sanctification of each other and the revelation and glorification of God to the world. Both are noble roles, and include many beautiful things, like the cultivating of life, raising of family, and serving those in need. For this post I will be focusing on the former, how marriage works towards goodness in a spouse’s life.
When a husband and wife get married in the Church, they are promising to love, honor, and be true at all times. In this promise they are also affirming that they believe God has chosen them to play an essential role in each other’s sanctification.
At my wedding, Stuart promised to be a part of my life in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, all the days of my life. To take the role of love in these times. He will be with me each day as I walk in and toward the kingdom of God. The intimate relationship we have together can be a part of pushing us closer or farther away from the Lord.
We still have a lot to learn about our vows and many of the worst and best moments of our life are still ahead of us. We are still learning how to love and support each other in these times. My hope is that I can grow in the grace needed to stand beside my husband as we stare down life’s toughest times and dance in the midst of celebrations. Because in living life alongside someone, no matter how long, you are taking baby steps in holiness.
Marriage is never the easy road, there is a weight placed on you when you are married, it is a weight that is good and that leads you to being more than you would be without it. We can think about it like we are climbing a mountain and each marriage might be at a different base camp. We are all trying to climb to the summit, but even being on the mountain is commendable. A marriage can be at many different places on the mountain, but no matter where, being married is growing us in holiness.
You may be at the camp that is about showing up. You are living a life just physically near your partner, and waking up every day choosing to commit to one another again. Even when things are hard and you are at your wits end with one another, you are making a steadfast commitment. You’re on the mountain for better or worst, lost or cold. Even in a season when you feel like you are utterly failing, by just continuing to show up your sacramental marriage is displaying a character of God, his permanence. You are still growing in holiness by staying true to your commitment to one another and maintaining this baseline permanence.
But we are called to grow even more in holiness. In order to climb up the mountain we have to sacrifice and die a little more to self. You may be at a base camp where you are deciding to take an active role in your partner’s well being and relationship with God. Choosing to find ways to serve and build up your spouse. To not just be present, but pour in. This may look like keeping no record of wrong, doing the little things even when you are tired, or just considering your spouse before you act. Here you are continuing to shine the glory of God in your simple desire to serve the other, you are putting on the attitude of Christ as he washed the disciples feet, as he broke the bread, as he hung on the cross. Know that your attempts are growing you in holiness, and when it is hard I am cheering you on.
Your camp may be at another elevation, a base camp where married couples come together to realize the role and call they have in making the other holy. For the two to be on the same page about the marriage’s goal, to bring the other closer to Christ. At this camp the partners are both aiming at the same peak, and are able to work together to climb the mountain. You do not have to do it right all the time, but at this base camp you have the vulnerability to share who you are and accept who your partner is. In this vulnerability you come together to center your life on what is good. As hard times come you can support one another and keep each other focused on the goals of your marriage. Here, in your desire to work toward the sanctification of the other, you foreshadow the beauty of heaven.
There are many sub camps and mid places on the mountain, at times I have traveled between all three camps in one day even. But the thing to know is that no matter where you are, living life alongside someone is making you holy. Your marriage is giving you an opportunity to see and know God more fully. Your marriage is valuable, wonderful, and worth it.
Our spouses are making us saints.