Abundance of Grace | A Newlywed's Reflection on Marriage
A few weeks ago I met up with a friend to get drinks. During our conversation, she asked me how life has been since getting married to my husband Austin back in November. After telling her how much we’ve enjoyed finally being married (and being done with wedding planning), she mentioned to me that it seemed like I was glowing. Funny thing is, she wasn’t the first person to say this to me. In fact, quite a few people, ranging from my mom to my acquaintances, have told me how happy, joyful, and, well, “glowing” I’ve seemed.
Truth be told, I have not been happy every single day since getting married three months ago. While marriage has been beautiful, there have been growing pains, like no longer living with and seeing my best friends every day, learning to compromise with Austin about our finances, navigating Natural Family Planning, and settling into a new routine. It’s been a rollercoaster of new experiences and feelings. However, my newfound “glow” has much less to do with my happiness and much more to do with grace.
As children, we learn about grace in our religious education classes in a very abstract way; it’s some kind of gift that God gives us so we can live out His will. As an engaged couple, Austin and I learned that we would receive an abundance of grace when we entered into the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. While I accepted this on an intellectual level, I still had doubts that our relationship would actually feel or seem any different.
You see, our engagement felt anything but grace-filled. Our engagement was tough. And it wasn’t difficult in the ways one might think. Sure, we struggled to set a guest list and Austin wanted vanilla cake while I preferred chocolate, but the real difficulties of our engagement were much more spiritual. From the night that Austin proposed to the morning of our wedding day, both of us were under constant and persistent spiritual attack; something we neither expected nor were prepared for. For Austin, that attack took the form of scruples and feelings of unworthiness. For me, the spiritual warfare was filled with panic attacks, desolation in prayer, and lies about myself, my fiancé, and our relationship.
Needless to say, the constant spiritual attack was a blow to our relationship. Add that to all the normal stress of wedding planning, managing familial expectations, and trying to fit into a dress, and you get one very long and difficult year. This season of our relationship—one that seemed lightyears away from the easy joys of our courtship—made it very difficult to believe that the sacrament of marriage and its graces could be tangibly felt.
Boy oh boy was I wrong. Since walking into that church on November 10, 2018, our life has been filled with nothing but grace. The spiritual attack is gone, our prayer lives have been better than ever, and our love has grown more deeply than I could have imagined. Now, has this grace instantly made Austin more punctual or me more selfless in my decisions? No, of course not. But the graces we received on our wedding day have opened our eyes, softened our hearts, and given us both the strength to recognize and work on our habits that negatively affect the other person. Grace has shown us that our marriage is a mirror; all the ways in which we are or are not living like Christ are directly reflected in how our choices, thoughts, and actions affect our spouse. That can be an ugly truth to face at times, but grace also gives us the ability to sanctify ourselves and more fully live out our love for each other and for God. The profound peace and joy that comes with this beautiful grace is the cause of my glow.
This grace is also what will allow us to continue to “glow” in our future. During the homily at our wedding, our priest spoke about how Austin and I have a deep desire to lead souls to God; and he couldn’t be more right. As the two of us grow our family and encounter others, what better way to show people Christ’s love for the world than by modeling that love in our marriage? Our Lord tells us that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), and if the past three months have taught me anything, it’s that our light as a married couple—our glow—is fueled by the abundant joy and grace that we received on our wedding day. It’s only been three months, but I can’t wait to see how this sacramental grace will continue to pour into our marriage.
Photo credit: www.nicoleellenphotography.com