When my husband and I were dating I can remember excitedly preparing for date nights, heading out and discovering the joy and simplicity of being in one another’s presence, becoming known and discovering love.
Engagement brought grace and excitement. We were planning our life together entering into our vocation, where we would be able to give ourselves to one another, standing before God vowing to love forever in truth, in freedom, in totality, in sickness, and in health.
When speaking to a gathering of thousands of engaged couples, Pope Francis illuminated the joy that can be found in life-long love amidst a “culture of the temporary.” The theme of their meeting: The Joy of ‘Yes’ Forever. He stated:
“…love is a relationship, then it is a reality that grows, and we can also say by way of example that it is built up like a home…The family is born from this plan of love, it wants to grow just as a home is built, as a place of affection, of help, of hope, of support. As the love of God is stable and forever, so too should we want the love on which a family is based to be stable and forever.” (Address of Pope Francis to Engaged Couples Preparing for Marriage, February 14, 2014)
Our “Yes” was refined in the grief and loss of our first pregnancy. It grew in the joy of welcoming our baby boy into the world. And, again, in the sacrifice of loving one another through sleepless nights and impatient tones. Security and acceptance found new heights as I was loved even amidst pregnancy hormones and cared for postpartum. It was molded as we learned a new way of making time for one another, of learning to offer ourselves to each other and to a new little life that needed our love and energy too.
Our family continued to grow. As our nights were filled with the demands of little people, our ‘Yes’ demanded we turn away from ourselves and a dinner and movie out and towards an excitement over our DVR playlist and the purchase of a new washer and dryer.
A ‘Yes’ to my biggest newlywed sacrifice required looking past messiness or habits like putting clothes away in a hamper. It required understanding his long hard day at work while little children pulled at my legs and I desperately attempted to assemble dinner, all the while feeling overwhelmed and having given all that I could for the day.
It was a ‘Yes’ to keeping the bills tight so we could pay our way through grad school which became a ‘Yes’ to being, again and again, open to the gift of new life. It was meeting the demands of love and knowing that the gift is far greater than the physical, mental or financial sacrifice.
We continue to choose love without the glamor of the many date nights or the free time soaking each other in. Our love grows rather as we drive our mini-van home so we can fit baby #3. It increases as my husband chooses to leave his hard day at work behind to enter full force into dishes and bath time and brushing teeth. And it enters in as we capture the quiet nights after all wild children have gone to sleep.
Our ‘Yes’ continues to be refined. It is refined as we imperfectly, yet faithfully, continue to choose love. It is a love that continues to be “put into fire, refined as silver and gold.” (Zechariah 13:9)
My resolve to choose a selfless love becomes greater, my joy deeper, and my ‘Yes’ stronger as I continue to affirm that ‘Yes’ with love every day.
Meaghan Hildebrandt is a stay at home momma to three sweet beauties, married to her high school sweetheart. She spent six years working in Marriage and Family Life and is a proud alumna of Franciscan University of Steubenville with her Masters Degree in Theology and Christian Ministry. She blogs at Live Simply. Live Fully.