It was a slow realization, like a veil being lifted, slowly raised so my eyes and heart could see. The irony of it was, I was slowly coming to realize that I wasn’t ready for that veil to be lifted, I wasn’t ready for marriage. What hurt perhaps more was the realization that not only have I never been ready for marriage, I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for marriage. As I clutched my rosary in my hand and meditated on the sorrowful mysteries for what seemed like the thousandth time, I knew I wasn’t ready for marriage. As I meditated on all He did for His Bride and contemplated how marriage would ask the same sacrifice of me, I succumbed to a painfully honest truth: I will never be ready for marriage.
Slowly, as slowly as the realization came to me, I began to see all the things I’d never have: the beautiful wedding, my daddy walking me down the aisle, the husband-to-be watching me walk towards him with tears in his eyes as he beheld me. I clung tighter to my rosary and to the Hail Marys now feverishly being recited as I fought back tears of my own. This agony in the garden was becoming my own as I begged God to let this cup pass from me. I felt the scourging at the pillar as my hopes and dreams of marriage were dashed into the ground with the truth that I’d never be ready for the vocation that I felt made for. I felt the thorns in my head in the place where I have so desperately longed for a veil to one day be placed. I felt the weight of this cross on my back, the cross of knowing that I don’t know how to love like He can, and therefore will never be true marriage material. Finally, I joined Him on the cross as I admitted, as much to myself as to Him, that there is no way I’ll ever be ready for marriage.
I’ve written before about my love for the sorrowful mysteries: how they relate to singlehood, relationships, and how each and every one of them relates to me. I sometimes laugh now at how people can say the rosary is boring, because each time I pray it I find some nugget of wisdom I’d missed before. I fell in love with the sorrowful mysteries first. In college I always went to confession on Tuesdays and my confessor always gave me a rosary as my penance, so it didn’t take long for me to memorize the mysteries. As I journey down this road of life trying to figure out just where God is calling me, I realized, slowly but surely, by meditating on the sorrowful mysteries that I’ll never be ready for marriage. I think of the love Christ showed His Bride as His Passion took place and I can’t help but ask myself: Can I love someone like that? Christ married His Bride on the day He died, after suffering for her (and suffering isn’t strong enough of a word to describe what Christ went through). If I truly believe that marriage is my vocation (and I do, by the way), then why not imitate the perfect marriage: that of Christ’s to His Bride, the Church? Isn’t that what we are called to, to imitate His perfect love? Jesus tells us, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” God is love and His love is perfect, and Jesus tells us to be perfect, and therefore to love perfectly, just as our heavenly Father does.
To say that this is a tough pill to swallow is the understatement of a lifetime. I look at Jesus and I see His love poured out, in the Garden of Gethsemane, in the scourging, in the crowning, the carrying of the cross, and dying upon it, and I wonder how I ever for a second thought that I could be ready for marriage. If I want a crucifixion type love, then I have to be willing to give that love in return. Am I willing to love someone in such a radical way as to endure agony, scourging, a crown of thorns, the weight of the cross, and death for them? In my human weakness, I can’t help but say no. But, and this is a BIG but, with Him, by His grace, I can. The reality is that none of us are ever ready for marriage, and I have no doubt my married friends will agree, but we get married and learn along the way. Christ’s agony in the garden shows us that the Father had to prepare Him for His Passion – and God the Father will do the same for us if we let Him. In our humanity we aren’t ready for marriage, not a marriage like Christ’s, not the marriage that Christ calls us to. Dare I say that if Jesus had only been fully human (and not also fully divine) then He wouldn’t or couldn’t have suffered and died as He did. It was His divinity, and the grace of God the Father flowing through Him that allowed Him to suffer as He did for His Bride. The only way I or anyone else will ever be ready for marriage is if we learn to deeply, radically, and profoundly allow His love to flow through us. We become a tabernacle when we receive Him in the Eucharist. We become a branch that depends on the vine for life itself because we know that without Him we can do nothing.