Saturday, July 16, 2011
Of course things change after you get married. But one of the things that I didn't really expect to change was kissing. Still, I guess I could have expected it based on the decidedly non-sexual way that elderly couples kiss even when it's supposed to be passionate (think kiss cams at sporting events).
Why did it change? Well, for me, I think it had something to do with our commitment to save sex until marriage. Think about it, if kissing is the only physical act that is "integrously okay" (ie. affection with integrity, not including "accidental" boobage brushes or extra close hugging of the entire torso, just sayin'), then prior to marriage for a chaste couple, there's gotta be an unbelievable amount of sexual tension behind every kiss - which was true at least for me (and a natural part of the commitment).
Now that we are happily married and enjoying the fullness of our bodies, the built up sexual tension has long been released or at the very least, significantly less. This had made kissing as a physical act much more pure. Initially, it felt like a negative thing, but that was probably because previously, there was so much oomph behind each kiss and makeout session. Now, it feels like a much more beautiful thing because it contains its purity in its one-of-many expressions of love that we have for each other and not re-actively a means to express sexual frustration. A piece of advice that I heard during marriage prep was to practice times of kissing that does not lead to sex. As a Catholic, that fits very nicely into pregnancy avoidant times of NFP :).
Friday, July 15, 2011
I am amazed by the crazy experience pregnancy must be for a woman. Watching my wife go through it, it totally makes sense the immediate connection and solidarity that she has with other currently pregnant women. However, when I see this, I immediately try to categorize one woman as "Mary" and one as "Elizabeth" and either want the "Elizabeth" to be a mentor figure to us or my wife to be the mentor figure to the "Mary". Being the J that I am, I get especially gleeful if one woman is almost exactly 6 months ahead of the other. I'm a weirdo.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
As I continue to walk along my spiritual journey, I continue to be amazed by how each pinnacle of spirituality I was trying to reach was actually only a baby step into deeper fullness of life – that which I could not adequately see until I had reached the peak.
Moving from one climax to the next, I grew from going through the indoctrinated motions as a child to taking ownership of my faith as an adolescent, from embracing spiritual discipline to gaining freedom in the mist of it. I went from one mountain top of realizing my own Belovedness to the next mountain top of learning how to listen to my own body and being attentive to my inner child. While going through this rhythm, somewhere along the way, I began to pine for the high of struggling along the spiritual climb and its resulting breakthrough with its breathtaking view of the next summit. Even still, the Truths that I absorbed from previous mountain tops became a deeper part of me than I even realized.
In fact, in the practical struggle of giving God dedicated personal time, I originally wrestled with the notion that in order for God to be present during the time, I needed to have kept Him consciously at the forefront of my mind and thoughts. Any wandering off or distraction and I would need to lead myself back into His Presence.
Through a re-awakening of my own Sacrament of Confirmation, I have begun to take hold of the Truth that an indelible mark on my soul has sealed the Spirit in my heart and that the God who I had sought externally as another entity fighting for space in the cosmic universe was actually not that and simply within me. This realization changed these times I desired to spend with God from needing to constantly remember and explicitly think of Him to a simple acknowledgment of His presence with gratitude for the time to spend, and then being present to the activity, or lack thereof, knowing that the fullness of my physical, emotional, and mental presence was a deep worship of God because I was living in the Truth of my created being.
Still, these "sacred" times needed to be distinct and for some reason, that felt rightly so. But the wisdom I had been gaining began revealing to me that this approach put unnecessary pressure on these "sacred" times and made me anxious to receive every ounce of spirituality there was to be gleaned – I was straddling the line of being utilitarian with God.
Over the course of a few years, without it being an explicit goal I was striving towards, I was making my way to the next spiritual pinnacle. And now, it seems, that I have reached the vicinity of this next mountain top without even realizing it – that slowly, along the way, I began to trust that the God I was hoping to encounter at each minor height was present as I walked along the ascent. "Sacred" times no longer needed to be dramatic, well reflected, or deeply self-aware. Attentiveness to my inner child led me to feel content with listening to my body's call for sleep or food and a peace to space out in what I previously would have termed "undisciplined meditation." Heeding my masculine call for adventure no longer meant the added pressure of needing a "good story." In my desire to find the next summit, I had inadvertently discovered an inner peace and Godly-contentment with the ordinary, plain, and even boring life. That God would be so powerful that He would not be content only with bringing me to my knees at each mountain top, but that I would also be able to experience peace in knowing that He is also fully content with my boring life in the valleys between, even the mundane self-perceived flaws that camouflage so easily with mediocrity.
Coming to this realization at this point in my life can only be God's providence. With my wife and I about to bring new life into this world, in many ways, our lives are about to get extremely ordinary, perhaps painfully so. Seeing many fathers that are found lacking, I am moved to be present and to love deeply. On the other hand, seeing many fathers that I am amazed by and long to model myself after, I am paralyzed by inadequacy. However, as "sacred" time slowly becomes less of a distinct time, it begins pervading the rest of my life itself. In the midst of diaper changes, feedings, and nap times, the pressure of needing to have God at the explicit forefront of my mind would likely be a frustrating battle. All time is sacred and the Truth of living out my vocation being physically, emotionally, and mentally present means that I am spiritually present as well. This brings the peace and the presence of God into ordinary life. When I can live like this, only then can I bring my daughter into that presence as well. That feels like freedom in an extraordinarily ordinary way.