This is a F&PB series we started to speak truth and love to all those single, in relationships, and discerning to help live in light of eternity. Perhaps a man or woman has captured your heart, but ultimately we are all meant to look upon Jesus Christ and say, “He has my heart.” Join our friends as they speak on marriage and the greater wedding feast: heaven. We hope it’ll inspire wherever you’re at. The first part of the series can be found here.
I first met Josh when a mutual friend suggested me as a contributor to his Catholic website, Canadian Catholic. I then got to briefly meet Josh and Lisa and their beautiful family when I went to CCO’s Rise Up conference a couple years back in Ottawa. I was and continue to be so inspired by this dynamic duo. Lisa is a talented and creative designer and I remember us having great discussions about leadership and she shared some favourite book recos when we first met. Even from a distance, Josh is an incredible support. I relied on his advice quite a bit this year as we launched Alpha for our university campus ministry. Josh is now the National Coordinator for Alpha for Catholics. These two inspire me to continuously be pursuing holiness and growth and truly show the beauty of marriage.
In addition to regular prayer and spiritual direction and continuing to get to know each other better and talk out our hopes for marriage, we read some good things. I read Three to Get Married, by Fulton Sheen. Lisa read Life-giving Love: Embracing God’s beautiful design for marriage, by Kimberly Hahn. We both read Good News about Sex and Marriage by Christopher West. We’d recommend all three of these.
I’d also recommend finding a mentor couple and spending some time with them. We knew a couple that we’re very passionate Catholics, and spending time with them helped us re-evaluate our plans for our family and made us realize some of the fears we had around finances and having kids were overblown (read more on that here).
- How has marriage helped you grow spiritually?
In more ways than can ever be stated, but one of the biggest things is learning how much we need God to help us grow and overcome selfishness. The other is growing in trust in God by seeing Him provide.
On the first point, you can come into a marriage and dig your heels in and make your demands and refuse to give any ground in a disagreement or whatever, but you’re really cheating yourself in the long run. Happiness comes from listening and making sacrifices and going out of yourself to mend offences. And these things help you grow spiritually when you do it out of love for God and try to see God in your spouse.
Easier said than done, right? And in that sense, marriage helps you grow also because it may help you get on those things that you know you should be doing already, like getting a good spiritual director, making frequent confessions, praying for grace each morning, etc. And God provides.
- What has been the biggest challenge in your married life?
You make these vows in your wedding: in good times and in bad; for richer or for poorer; in sickness and in health… all the days of our life, till death do us part.
We felt those vows come into play early in our marriage. A month after our honeymoon ended we discovered that Lisa had cancer. Soon she would have surgery and radiation therapy. It was a very scary time.
In that time we both struggled to deal with it, which led to some couples and individual counselling. There were a lot of moments that felt very desperate. But I guess that’s why there are the vows, right? We chose each other for all of our life, not for just the easy or convenient moments. (And incidentally, the Church in her wisdom has assigned a great number of patron saints to difficulty in marriage).
We also had to deal with my depression and anxiety, things that were not present or obvious until well into our marriage. But by this point we have seen that God is always there, even in the most difficult and confusing moments. Somehow we have even come around to see that these kinds of trials are a gift from God, because as St. Catherine of Sienna said, “the only ladder to heaven is the Cross.”
Despite all challenges, the good far outweighs the bad! Our love has grown immeasurably, and we consider ourselves to unbelievably blessed and give God praise and thanks every day as a family. He truly does provide, and we know that St. Paul’s words are so true:
We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)