It feels like just yesterday when I wrote about the Agony in the Garden and how well it fits with the single life. Lately, however, when I pray the sorrowful mysteries, I can’t help but relate them to relationships. Each of the sorrowful mysteries relates to what it is like to be in a relationship, what relationships call us to, and how to unite ourselves more deeply to Christ. For the purposes of this particular post “relationship” is limited to the context of dating and courting. Since I am not now, nor have I ever been married, I won’t try to write about what married life is like.
Agony in the Garden
My “agony in the garden” moments in relationships come when I find myself praying about God’s will for the relationship. Is this guy “the one”? Am I supposed to stay in this relationship, either now or forever? Certainly my “agony” and questioning in no way, shape, or form compare to Christ’s actual agony in the garden, but there are similarities to be sure. In relationships we pray and wait for that angel to come strengthen us like the angel strengthened Christ. We pray for an answer, for direction, and for guidance. We pray for the cup to pass so that we may clearly know the Father’s will. We are willing (more often than not) to walk the road to Calvary if that is where He is calling us, we just want to know exactly where He is leading us!
Scourging at the Pillar
Relationships take work, romantic ones in particular. The “honeymoon” phase of a relationship eventually comes to an end, and when it does sometimes the relationship can feel like you are being scourged. When love enters in we find that we want the best for our significant other and that we desire for them to attain Heaven. However, holiness isn’t easy, so in spurring our earthly dearest on to holiness, we encounter struggles. We learn that there are habits that may not be the best for us, or for our boyfriend or girlfriend. There also comes a point when encounter our fallen nature and realize that God can work through our significant other to show us the effects of our sins, and so move us to rid ourselves of sin. We are led to the pillar, in some sense, and changed, hopefully for the better.
Crowning with Thorns
There comes a point in a relationship when you begin to think first of your significant other rather than yourself. Perhaps in some way this notion of someone else being at the forefront of our minds relates to Christ being crowned with thorns. Constantly weighing on His head, pressing into Him, was a crown of thorns, reminding Him of just who He suffered for. Are the thorns easy or comfortable? Certainly not, but Christ took on the weight of our pains and persevered for us. Don’t relationships call us to the same self-sacrificial love?
Carrying the Cross
It is hard to think about Christ carrying the cross without thinking of Simon of Cyrene. Christ, with His divine power, certainly could have carried the cross all on His own. However, He allowed Simon to share the weight with Him. We each have our crosses that we are called to carry and in relationships we meet our own Simon of Cyrene – that person that God places in our path to help us carry our crosses. In the same way, we become Simon of Cyrene to another, helping them to carry their crosses as we journey together towards Heaven.
In some ways it is obvious how the crucifixion relates to relationships, and in other ways it is hard to see. Are we called to die on a cross for our significant other? Perhaps, though that doesn’t seem likely. We are, however, called to die to ourselves. We are called to sacrifice for the one we love. Sometimes the sacrifices will come in big ways: moving across state lines to be close to someone, for example. Other times the sacrifices are smaller: staying up late to chat on the phone, or driving across town to meet up for a quick lunch. In relationships we are invited to live out Christ’s self-sacrificial love and to show that love to someone in a very intentional way. In some way we are invited to show that self-sacrificial love to everyone we encounter, but even more so with a significant other. Hanging on a cross on Golgotha, Christ laid down His life for His bride in the ultimate act of true love. When we enter into relationships we are invited to do the same: lay down our hearts before another, showing them true love, and pointing them towards the source of love.