For years, I have been aware of the verse from Isaiah which says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.”
In the context of natural disasters or global humanitarian crises, I find hopeful comfort in these words: God’s ways are not our ways. I may not understand what is happening in our world, or why, but I am called to trust that we are in God’s providential hand under his divine timing. And when he calls me to serve, I strive to be prepared to say “yes.”
Despite my understanding on a social level, discerning, pursuing and fulfilling a vocation to marriage has been a provocation for me to encounter this truth in a personal and intimate way.
Becoming indefinitely united to another and living into a sacramental reality is a catalyst for conversion. The word ‘conversion,’ in its Latin roots, means ‘to turn.’ Through marriage, our hearts and minds receive countless invitations to turn towards humility, selflessness, charity, patience, and faith.
A vivid image of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz comes to mind. For years, he sat rusted and immobile. All of a sudden, oil is released into his joints; though he creaks and aches while breaking through the stiff rust, he finds freedom in turning his joints and discovering his new potential.
Similarly, parts of my heart laid dormant for years. The sacrament of marriage is the oil which seeps into the deep crevices of intimacy, breaks into the rust of fear and self-doubt, and brings new freedom to our desires to love and be loved.
Though living in the freedom of my heart’s potential is eventually a joyful revelation, I sometimes focus more on the painful, creaking, aching process rather than the hope of mercy.
In our human nature, we don’t like pain. We would prefer to avoid it, if possible. But God’s ways are not our ways. Often, through grace, he invites us into our stiffness in order to create a new mobility of love.
My heart desires freedom, desires to say “yes,” desires to receive love and mercy, desires to be seen. Yet my head knows the process may be painful and proposes barriers against turning toward Jesus in order to avoid the hurt. Will I trust the Lord, will I receive his mercy, will I endure the crosses of my vocation? The choice is ours.
So often, life does not go according to plan; new circumstances present unforeseen challenges. God’s ways are not are ways, yet we are called to keep our eyes on him as we continue following his lead.
The exchange of wedding vows requires active participation from three: bride, groom, and God. Therefore in the months and years following the wedding day, fulfilling the vows “in good times and in bad” is a continued participation of three: bride, groom, and God.
In the moments when we don’t understand his plan and can’t anticipate the journey of our lives, we can trust the validity of our vows—God is ever-present within our marriage and family lives. We can affirm our hearts’ desires and calm our heads’ worries because we are seen, known, loved and led by God. The mercy and grace he offers through the marital embrace will include the invitation to enter into pain, so we may turn toward love.
His ways are not our ways, yet his ways are perfect and pure. Trust the moment, enter into the painful process, and maintain a steadfast hope in the promises of the Sacrament.