Welcome to our Blessed Chats series! Each month, we will dedicate an entire week of blog posts to a topic that affects many of us. These conversations often come up in our Facebook groups and in our real life friendships. We want to share a variety of perspectives on the topic at hand, so we’ve asked women to share their stories and how the teachings of the Church have guided and comforted them. In this series, we are talking about vocational discernment. We’d love for you to join the conversation!
“Coming!” I called down the carpeted corridor as I hurried to the stone railing of the second-floor steps of our law school. I wasn’t wearing shoes, but that was typical for me when working after hours on Law Review. My roommate called back that she would meet me at my car.
Sweeping my glance over the railing onto the steps below, I saw him. The first-year student who sometimes flashed a full-smile, who apparently had a girlfriend, and who often flicked his bangs over to one side at the beginning of conversations.
It turned out I was a bit late meeting my roommate at the car as I ended up *ahem* needing to make a quick stop downstairs, necessitating conversation with him.
Being Someone’s Calling
Fast-forward fifteen years and we are married with five children. I guess that conversation has just kept on going. From horrendously ill pregnancies to messily long postpartum recoveries, from house projects gone sideways to kids’ violin lessons you wish you could ease out from underneath by sliding sideways, from trips across the world to carrying a sick child the short trip to the midnight bathroom, he is an incredible husband and father.
Our early marriage began in Las Vegas while I finished a clerkship, traipsed back to my hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota for his clerkship, and landed in the world of babies upon babies in an old wooden house that needs an extra coat of paint with a backyard dug up for minigolf and baseball.
We joke, we pray, we feast on pad thai, we fold laundry in the off-hours.
He’s my calling and I’m his.
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Beyond Mere Attraction
I knew I wanted to be married since I was about middle school. That is when I had my first serious crush: Dave V. By serious I mean I practiced combining my first name with his last name and swooned at the thought of him carrying me over the threshold after our wedding. Not exactly certain which threshold that was, but it fit well with my heavily fairy-tale saturated reading list.
But it wasn’t until I met my now-husband, Anthony, that I felt called to get married. Our vocational calls are not in the abstract. I can say all day long that I think I am called to marriage but until the person we are called to rolls up, it is a bit ethereal.
Anthony was different than any crush, date, or boyfriend. His life ignited by his faith, his concern and care for my well-being, and his sense of humor punctuated by inside jokes (yes, sometimes with himself), all drew me to him in a way beyond simple attraction.
Refining and Romance
And since our marriage vocation is found in each other, we have tried to follow this idea of marriage outlined in Pius XI’s Casti connubii where he declared that married love:
demands not only mutual aid but must have as its primary purpose that man and wife help each other day by day in forming and perfecting themselves in the interior life, so that through their partnership in life they may advance ever more and more in virtue, and above all that they may grow in true love toward God and their neighbor. // Casti connubii 23
So I am the very useful human sandpaper to help him grow in the interior life! I jest, but it’s true that in the vocation of marriage sometimes we help one another grow by our faults and failings! It is in the partnership with this particular person that we become more saintly, more virtuous. (Next time your spouse complains about something you do, you can remind them you’re helping them grow in holiness.)
The Love Beyond All Loves
My deep and abiding love of Anthony isn’t simply for peaceful romantic walks around the block with three kids on bikes with questionable tire pressure, one on a wobbly trike, and one chilling/crying in his stroller. It’s to help him “form and perfect” himself in the life of prayer. Our vocation of marriage is to help each other “advance ever more and more in virtue” so that ultimately we can love God and our neighbors (kind people that they are) more. Our love is to help us grow more in love with everyone else.
Ultimately we all will find the completion and unutterable perfect tenderness in God. He is our end, the fulfillment of our heart’s deepest desire, and the Love beyond all loves.
We want to hear YOUR story. Please share in the comments below!
And if you want more help with finding your own story, our popular Write + Pray course offers 9 topics, nearly an hour of guided video, and almost 50 Scripture verses and questions for you featuring Managing Editor Nell O’Leary. Find your story today.