Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Discipline, martyrdom, and obedience

"The very nature of marriage means saying yes before you know what it will cost you. Though you may say the 'I do' of the wedding ritual in all sincerity, it is the testing of that vow over time that makes you married. I hope that I will always have faith in the giddy wonder of romance, but in considering what makes a marriage endure, I am likely to employ such ascetic and unromantic terms as discipline, martyrdom, and obedience."

The above quote is from the book Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and A Writer's Life by Kathleen Norris. It's a great read about the little discussed/known sin of acedia which is spiritual sloth or apathy. She explores the history of how acedia has been understood over time, but also her own lifelong struggle with acedia. The one area in Norris' life where she didn't experience acedia was in her marriage; she was fully committed to her husband and the commitment she made to him through everything: manic-depressive disorder, a suicide attempt, and very serious illnesses for the last several years of his life.

I can't say I've ever experience acedia, but after I read this quote my eyes filled with tears and I had to put the book down. I know only too well what Norris is talking about...and most especially now, at this time of the year. Five years ago on August 25th my first baby was stillborn at term and last year on August 21st I had a miscarriage. Five years ago today I lived in the world of "giddy wonder of romance". Martyrdom or obedience or discipline were not words I would have used to describe our marriage after only two and half years.

Now, I understand.

Burying our baby, sticking together through grief, surviving our pain, figuring out our new "normal", finding the courage to try again, learning to be parents, finding the courage to try yet again, saying goodbye to another baby, and most recently moving across the continent for a ministry position...

I understand obedience in marriage not as "yes, dear" to my husband, but "Yes, Lord" to the vow I made and staying true when times are tough. I understand discipline through the practice of saying "Yes" to marriage and life and hope, but also by saying "Yes" to Christ even on the days when I didn't want to. I understand martyrdom not as being put to death for my faith, but as dying to myself, my wants, my dreams, and my plans because God has different vision for me and my life.

1 comment:

  1. We hit our 50th next year. Your reflection is on the mark