Faith & Community

This is the third post in a three part series of year-end reflections.

Growth (in community)

Our family belongs to several communities. We are part of a homeschool co-op on the West Island of Montreal. For those unfamiliar with the area, this is essentially a different town from us. And for our family to participate in that community we must drive, schedule, make arrangements, leave where we actually live and travel to a different place.

But that community is part of our village, committed to helping each other raise and educate our children. It is such a supportive and talented group of families. What we are able to accomplish as a group, and provide for our children, is much bigger than what each of our families could do on our own. And that is the strength of a collective. But to build such a community takes effort. And when you live in a different town, it takes extra effort.

We belong to our actual neighborhood, and we love this neighborhood. We love the city. We have neighbors who share our walls and fences. Neighbors for whom I am building a backyard garden to bring beauty into all our lives. Neighbors who shop at the same hardware store and grocery store we frequent. These neighbors are predominantly francophone and this is a barrier (for me and the kids especially) to building deeper relationships with these people. But it is a barrier that I desperately want to move past, as my heart's desire is to cultivate friendships across fences, to get to know the people in our building and neighborhood.

And we belong to a church community. Our church community is the people we gather with on Sunday mornings and throughout the week to share our lives together. We've got the Sunday morning thing down, but getting together with people throughout the week is trickier for us with our West Island commitment taking us out of the city and into a different town a couple times a week. We can't do everything and Damien and I are careful that our family builds boundaries in our relationships with each other and our relationships within communities, so we keep healthy: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And yet, we feel the tug for more connection, more shared life with our church community.

This has always been our heart's desire. That we would share life with people, not just a religion, or a way of believing, but the activities of our days. We do this as a family of five and the church, the body of Christ, is a family. And we have always been drawn into growing deeper community in the church.

We live in a tension. The desire for more connection and community and the busyness of our lives. And we are always wanting to integrate these two.

My last post was about words, my word for 2017 is Release and one of things I want to be released into is more hospitality, more community building.

We are five, we are a community unto ourselves, and amongst our five we must balance engagement and rest, giving and receiving. And we five then fit into these other communities and we must balance our engagement as one unit within those communities, while still balancing our engagements with each other!

I (and we) want to be a house of hospitality but this has to unfold in a way that will work for our family and work for me. I don't particularly like cooking these days (these days being the last few years). I feel out-of-sync in that realm. Our family differs on how each of us wants to eat and our values around food have shifted. Feeding other people feels complicated to me. I don't feel freedom, I feel stress. And this is not the emotion from which I want to give. Also, I have very real energy limits in my life. Physical, emotional and spiritual needs for rest. I have a full-time job.

I don't know how this will work itself out in our lives, in our year. But like with calling and vocation, I'm not trying to figure out the big, grand picture I'm following the breadcrumb trail of curiosity, step by step by step. There are barriers: time, language, finances, physical space (our dining room table "comfortably" seats 4, yes, we are 5), I'd rather make soap, organize, or pay bills than cook, etc. etc. but I don't have to have that all figured out. I just need to be willing to take the step that is right in front of me, listen for the Spirit, and give from what has been given to me. (And no, I don't know exactly what that looks like.)

This is an area I am seeking to find release into this coming year.

Bullet Journal (for the journey)

Last spring I started a series on how I manage ideas, and my last, and still unpublished post in that series is about using a bullet journal. This is not that post, it's just a brief overview of how this type of journaling system helps me reflect from day to day and month to month, a tool to help me notice and pay attention to what my life is teaching me.

I started using a Bullet Journal at the beginning of 2016. A bullet journal can be whatever kind of planning, recording system you want it to be. A bullet journal is really just a system of keeping a journal, and what you keep in that journal is completely up to you.

(This time of year there is a ton of buzz on these journals.)

I spent months researching bullet journals trying to figure out if it would work for me, and I had a rough idea going into it how I might set things up. But what I did not anticipate is how many spiritual ideas and personal reflections I would keep in this journal.

In the past I've always kept my day planner separate from personal journals. I'm not sure how it evolved into this but in 2016 the planning and the personal merged together. And I like it. It also means I'd be devastated if I lost this book, as I would lose more than just the to-do list but the written record of my inner life through the year.

What is great about the bullet journal concept is that you can weave these two together really well. There's nothing limiting you in a bullet journal. There is no calendar or weekly template you must follow and fill, preventing you from chronicling personal thoughts right alongside the week's tasks.

For me, it seems that using a bullet journal has allowed me to see with more clarity the connection between my growth (the struggle and triumphs) and my responsibilities, tasks, to-do's that facilitate that growth.

I love looking back through this journal, pages thick with writing, key themes and lessons underlined in my seasonal-colored gel pens; week after week the doings of family, home and community life recorded; lists with boxes checked, and pages of plans gone awry; a record of the kids temperatures during our sick season; mantras and truth underlined and starred: this is not going to take me down, the spirit of God lives in me, the world does not have what you seek, it's an inside job, God's got this, and when you only have the energy for one thing: live like you are loved (and so many more); lists of things I'm grateful for; travel logs from our summer trip; pages of frustrated and angry words, sometimes stained with my tears; sketches to communicate where words fail; Examen notes and thoughts quickly written after morning meditation; sermon notes and schedules; a list of blog posts I didn't write and others that I did, etc.

Keeping this kind of journal (you can call it whatever you like but I first learned how to index and organize such disparate ideas under the bullet journal banner so I call it that) has been a helpful tool for gathering the messy parts of my life into a cohesive whole. It helps me secure the perimeter, to gather everything together and make sense of it. And it breaks down the barriers between sacred and profane, because for me that's a false dichotomy.

Every single part of my life is infused by the Spirit, if I open myself to that possibility. The Spirit carries me, works through me, corrects and admonishes me (when my pride doesn't get in the way, which it often does). The Spirit is always present, always moving, always working. And this journal is record of that movement through this past year.

Where do you see yourself growing this coming year? Do you feel scared or excited about that?

Do you use a bullet journal or something similar? What tools do you use to make connections between the day-to-day details and big picture growth?

Advent is one of the most spiritually rich times of year for me and I crave so deeply in my spirit to give time and space to contemplate the meaning of this season; a season of light and dark, the kingdom come and not quite here, God entering time and space to inhabit the earth, to inhabit our hearts.

I've been gathering resources to guide me through this spiritually rich time. The church I attend does not structure itself, in teaching or observances, according to the traditional church calendar or liturgy. I love our church (which is to say the people) and its very modern expressions of worshipping and gathering together. God inhabits hearts not buildings or forms. And I love that expressions of faith and how we gather to teach and remember and celebrate is always re-inventing itself in culture and time.

I align most closely, in Biblical interpretation and corporate expressions of worship, with the evangelical Christian movement. That is my mother church, it's where I came to Christ as a child, in a close-knit community of family and friends, it's the "tradition" in which I feel most enlivened by the Spirit in a corporate setting.

But in my individual worship and study, in the personal expressions of my faith, I lean into contemplative practices (some of which are inspired by ideas and forms from outside the Christian tradition all together). And I am comforted by, and increasingly drawn to root myself into the cyclical nature of the church calendar and the rich history of church tradition, Catholic and Protestant.

I am a very seasonally aware person, and seasonality is a big part of my personal expression of faith, something that is not so present in the corporate Evangelical Christian forms of "doing church".

If you've read Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey, I identify a lot with her story. I didn't experience the anger or burn out she felt with the evangelical faith community but I have experienced the same broadening of perspective that comes partly with age, but also with stepping out and away from what you were "born again" into. And also like her, I have returned to small c church after some years in a spiritual desert.

Anyway, all of that is to explain that if I want to observe Advent I need to put together my own liturgy for doing so, because it's not happening within the church I attend. (Which is ok.)

This post is a round-up of a few Advent resources to inspire, guide and deepen your spiritual experience this holiday season. It may also just be an excuse to post pretty photos of lights and candles, you'll forgive me that indulgence.

Advent started this past Sunday and that is also when I had the inspiration to write this post. I'm not ahead the game like many bloggers are with editorial calendars and posts planned in advance. I would have prepared this post before Advent if I had the thought or writing time, I had neither.

Even though we're two days into this season it's not too late if you want to jump in and any one of the resources I list below will allow you to do that.

Pilgrim Year

First off, I have to say, Steve Bell is one of my favorite singer songwriters. In this post from the spring, I wrote, "Steve Bell is a Christian pilgrim, he defies the mold; his music is rich with truth, beauty, and love that transcend religious affiliation. I feel closer to God every time I listen to his music, which means I listen often. " At this point in writing I want to stop and tell you about all my favorite Steve Bell songs and what each of them means to me. I won't do that. I am working hard to stay focused here.

Point is, Steve Bell has been working for years on Pilgrim Year, which is a digital resource of "Scripture, Story, Song, Poetry and Art to Explore the Christian Calendar".

Pilgrim Year is a media-rich, devotional experience, using prose, art, song, poetry and story to journey meditatively through the Christian calendar year with its positive riot of fasts, festivals, saints’ days and rich traditions... attending to and re-membering these many and varied traditions robs nothing from our present, but only deepens and roots the present in a way that can confidently welcome the future. The Christian narrative is a way of seeing, that recognizes that we live in a meaning-drenched universe, and we’ve been invited to know and give witness to the Love that holds all things together and that will not let us go.

A couple years ago I purchased the first release of this project which was just the Advent devotional. There is now a set of digital devotionals for Advent, Christmastide, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide and Ordinarytide. New material is being added regularly.

The cost of the whole Pilgrim Year is just $20. I think this is an amazing deal. Individually, the devotionals are $4.99.

This is a beautiful resource. It includes music, art, poetry, and reflective writing. Can you hear my heart beating "yes" to this invitation into the church calendar?

Keening for the Dawn

Again, a Steve Bell resource. This is some of my most-loved Advent music. The incredible story of God becoming man in the song Descent is one of my favorite Christmas songs.

Just take a listen.

A lot of the music from this album is in the Advent and Christmastide Pilgrim Year devotions.

I've just described resources I'm familiar with, but now I'm shifting into a "I can't wait to dive into these books" type of recommendation.

I haven't read these yet but they are highly recommended by other people and feature writers and thinkers I am drawn to and whose writing and teaching speaks to me.

Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas

This is a book of forty-five selected readings from classical and contemporary sources, corresponding to the dates November 24th through January 7th. You can read day-by-day or simply pick-up when you have a moment, the readings don't build or depend on each other. Each selection stands on its own. There is no scripture reading involved though scripture is certainly referenced throughout.

Something interesting for me in this book is the wide cultural and historical context of the selected readings. The short essays, poems and reflections are each written in a particular time and space, by philosophers, poets, theologians, saints and sinners from the 12th Century to our modern time, yet each speak to universal belief and mysteries of the Christian faith. The unifying nature of the essence of Christian teaching - in love God created us, in Christ God is with us, in Spirit God is in us - as presented by these writers, is both deeply comforting and enlivening to me.

Not to mention, the author list is basically a who's who of many of the writers on my to-read list (on which I am making slow, slow progress.)

Speaking of authors I want to read more from, Richard Rohr is high on that list. His latest book on the Trinity, Divine Dance, looks so good. (This is a fabulous podcast by the way with Rob Bell and Richard Rohr which talks a bit about that book.)

Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent

As the title suggests this is a daily meditation for Advent but it is more like a classic devotional than Watch for the Light. Each entry starts with short passages of scripture, followed by a brief reflection. I haven't read enough of it to know if the reflections are drawn from the specific scripture for that day.

At first glance what I like about this book is that it's rooted in specific passages from scripture, the readings are short, and the reflection questions give lots of space for thought. And I like that it's Richard Rohr. I'm not a Catholic and so some of the language and nuance in the book is different to me, but I appreciate how that broadens my perspective and experience.

I don't usually read Christian daily devotionals, written reflections based on a short passage of scripture. But for Advent I like the change.

How do I plan to use these Advent resources?

It looks like a lot but they each serve a different purpose and meet a different need. The music is easy, I can just listen and enjoy (and cry and rejoice).

At some point in the day I want to read the daily devotional from Watch for the Light. First thing in the morning, or maybe when I'm eating lunch.

In the evening, I plan to pick up Preparing for Christmas, either at supper with the family or in my before bed meditations.

Pilgrim Year is not a daily reading, so isn't a big time commitment. There are 12 entries in the Advent collection that can be spread throughout the four weeks of Advent, roughly three per week.

When you consider the amount of time many of us spend checking Instagram (I adore Instagram), Facebook, Twitter, the-latest-social-media-platform, fifteen to thirty minutes a day of reading and reflection is doable and probably more edifying.

Feel free to share your favorite advent resources in comments. Also, if you want to talk about personal and corporate expressions of faith, an evolving journey of belief and practice, traditional and modern expressions of worship - and where you fit into all of that - I welcome your voice in comments (email, Facebook, or whatever is comfortable for you.)

This post has amazon affiliate links.

This is the third post in a series on vocation, marriage, and work.

So much of this story is hard to tell because of the deep shame I experienced when I made these discoveries about myself. And the pain we experienced as we made these discoveries in our marriage.

This next part is especially hard to tell because my deepest shame is in how I applied biblical teaching and interpretations of that teaching to my relationship with Damien. And I am hesitant to talk about it because I don't want to misrepresent the Bible to non-believers. But it's not up to me to filter and spin how people interpret my experiences and my failures. I am choosing to live in the freedom that allows me to recognize I clearly don't have my act together. I'm broken. I'm loved anyway. This is the gospel.

I grew up in and have spent my adult life in branches of the Christian faith that advocate complementary roles in marriage for husbands and wives, not related to the specific work we do (who earns the income, who washes the dishes, for example), but how we lead and/or submit to each other.

A simplified view of the complementarian interpretation of scriptures is that the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church. And wives are to be subject to their husbands as the Church is subject to Christ. The relationship is to be mutually loving and submissive, with each spouse submitting to a different authority. Husbands loving their wives, as Christ loved the Church, even to death, and submitting to the headship of Christ. Wives are to submit to the headship of their husbands, and love their husbands as the Church loves Christ.

The complementarian viewpoint is based on several passages in scriptures, most notably Paul's letter to the Ephesians.

I have struggled here at this point in the narrative. I have researched and read different points of view, I have written many words and then deleted them as I've tried to figure out how to explain and justify this teaching.

I'm not up for that type of writing, it's not my gig. I cannot attempt to do justice to this teaching in this blog post, nor is that my intent. There are many books, bible commentaries and debate within the Christian community about this. Just as the Apostle Paul says in the passage I linked to above, "This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all."

I don't want to get into any debate about this, though I'm open to respectful discussion. My purpose in this post is to share my experience. And the last thing I want to do is misrepresent the Bible.

Because "belief" (trust, faith, convictions, positions) is difficult for Sixes to achieve, and because it is so important to their sense of stability, once they establish a trustworthy belief, they do not easily question it, nor do they want others to do so. The same is true for individuals in a Six's life: once Sixes feel they can trust someone, they go to great lengths to maintain connections with the person who acts as a sounding board, a mentor, or a regulator for the Six's emotional reactions and behavior. They therefore do everything in their power to keep their affiliation going. ("If I don't trust myself, then I have to find something in this world I can trust.")
~ Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson (emphasis mine)

I am a traditionalist, an authority-respecting person. My nature is to value hierarchy and loyalty. These are my inherent ways of looking at the world. Unfortunately, one of the false beliefs I am susceptible to, that can drive my decision making, is the belief that I'll be ok (ie: secure) if I cover all my bases and do what is expected of me.

Throughout adulthood and marriage, I've held to the complementarian view of marriage. I grew up with that teaching, and to this day it has been the perspective of the (mostly charismatic) evangelical churches I've attended. I have read very conservative teachings on the subject as well as the more liberal interpretations that many Christians align themselves with.

As I applied this in my own life, my motives for following this teaching over the years were not so much to unravel the mystery of Christ and the Church in a marriage relationship as much as they were to "do the right thing". Respecting roles and responsibilities, managing and adhering to those is the way I naturally do things as an ESTJ. (Of note: I also have a strong rebellious, authority-questioning streak in me, especially against leadership that appears unjust and power-hungry.)

But as I started to feel more insecure in my world, my motivations to adhere to this teaching started to subtly shift, not that I could have verbalized it at the time but looking back I can see the change.

Remember, one of the largely unconscious forces in my decision making is the belief that "I'll be ok if I cover all my bases and do what is expected of me". So in a place of insecurity, if a complementarian marriage is what is expected of me (by God, by people I admire and trust, by respected Church leaders) and will achieve the outcome I want: security and safety, then I'm in. And I will work my ass off to do it well. I will hustle for that security.

Average Sixes want to reinforce their support system, to strengthen their alliances and/or their position with authorities. To that end, they invest most of their time and energy in the commitments they have made, hoping that their sacrifices will pay off in the increased security and mutual support.
~ Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

The complementarian view of marriage, and no doubt, the dirty lens through which I understood it, encouraged me to step behind my husband and follow when I felt insecure. I'm not saying that is what is "supposed to" happen. I don't know what is "supposed to" happen, it's still a mystery to me. But that's what I did. And my misplaced allegiance, which you could call idolatry, made me look to Damien to reassure me that everything was ok. I could step behind him, follow him, and it would be all right. He would lead and I would follow. This was biblical, everything would be ok.

I'm not blaming the complementarian viewpoint for my errors and faults but how I interpreted and misinterpreted this teaching contributed to a breaking in my confidence and self-assurance. The way I applied this teaching to my life in the context of my inherent personality traits and my natural bent to insecurity and anxiety; in the context of our life circumstances and decisions; and in the context of my already weakening confidence and increasing reliance on Damien led me to conclude that when things didn't feel ok for me it was because something was wrong with me.

And of course, a lot of things were "wrong" with me by this point, in my mental and emotional health. But the essence of my personhood was not wrong, and that is where I was feeling mis-aligned.

I had come to believe that if it was ok for Damien, leader and captain of the ship, then it should be ok for me. And if it wasn't ok for me then I was flawed, deeply flawed. Not just flawed the way we all are flawed and recognize our private sins and inconsistencies in belief and action, but flawed in the very traits that make me, me.

I was so confused and hurt at this point because I do believe I was knit together a certain way and yet I'm called to growth and transformation, and marriage is part of that. And I wasn't sure where the line was in that process. I didn't know anymore which of my preferences, desires, and needs were essentially me, and what were attitudes, beliefs, perspectives that could and should be changed.

I needed things Damien did not need. I saw the world differently than he did.

And from there I jumped to the conclusion, not supported by biblical texts or interpretations (or reality), that I was the wrong partner for Damien, and that I would lose him. And that was the lowest point for me, and the most difficult part of this journey.

The reason Sixes are so loyal to others is that they do not want to be abandoned and left without support - their Basic Fear. Thus, the central issue for Type Six is a failure of self-confidence.
~ Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

I reached this point in the summer of 2014, on the Appalachian Trail. No wonder I was so depressed that summer.

In my desperate attempt to do it right, to find security, I f&*($ it up, big time. That's what I thought.

The following metaphor provides a good picture for what happened. I imagine our marriage and family life as a ship and Damien and I are standing at the prow. We're on a journey and there are calm seas and stormy ones. And over the last few years, during the storms, instead of standing beside Damien, I tucked in behind him, again and again. And I would ask "how're we doing?", and he'd reassure me, "we're doing fine". And even when it was calm, I'd ask "how's the view?" And he'd say, "it's great!" And he, as captain, felt confident that we had what we needed to meet the challenges.

Now, to step behind each other every once in a while to take a respite and reprieve from the prow, that's a good thing. For one of us to be standing perpetually behind the other, trusting the other's judgement, perspective, and view of the situation, that's no good. That was us. That was me.

I needed to increasingly rely on Damien's sense of situations being "ok" because I had lost my confidence and my inner guidance. Because so much was unfamiliar and outside my comfort zone, over and over again (sometimes we make those choices and sometimes life brings them) I wanted someone tell me it would be ok. And I looked to Damien to be that person.

Earlier I talked about how my tendency is to find security in doing what is expected of me. Damien did not expect me to step behind him. He knew I was, both by my actions and my communication. But I was not doing so to meet his expectations. I was working to achieve a standard, a measuring stick, that I set for myself, based on a certain view of marriage.

Those holding to the complementarian view of marriage might say: you read it wrong, you did it wrong, you were really messed up woman (no need to remind me), Damien did it wrong, something was wrong here. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Was it a failure of understanding, a failure of application, a failure of interpretation?

I don't have firm answers, but I'm ok with the questions. I'm ok with the mystery.

I don't know what I think anymore about complementary marriage, but I'm not seeking clarity in defining marital roles right now. And I'm not seeking my security in doing the right thing, or what is expected of me. I'm seeking Jesus.

I am unclear about some things, but here's what I know. I didn't marry an idea of marriage. I didn't even marry a biblical idea. I married a person, Damien. And I am to submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, with Jesus Christ as my example and my Lord. This is what I know and it's good enough for now.

Did we push ourselves too far outside my comfort zone? Probably. Did we bring this confusion on ourselves in some way? Maybe. Should I have listened more to the still small voice of the Spirit? Yes. But life, the choices we make and cards we're dealt, take us through circumstances that allow us to grow. And this path has allowed for much growth.

In the tradition of pilgrimage, those hardships are seen not as accidental but as integral to the journey itself. Treacherous terrain, bad weather, taking a fall, getting lost - challenges of that sort, largely beyond our control, can strip the ego of the illusion that it is in charge and make space for true self to emerge. If that happens, the pilgrim has a better chance to find the sacred center he or she seeks. Disabused of our illusions by much travel and travail, we awaken one day to find that the sacred center is here and now - in every moment of the journey, everywhere in the world around us, and deep within our own hearts.
~ Parker Palmer

A lot of my shame about what happened to us is around how I responded to Damien's awareness of the situation. Damien could see I was struggling, he's a loving husband. He could see that I was cowering, and he would ask me, is this what you want to do? Is this ok for you? Should we pull back, steer into calmer waters? But I was so blinded by my own sense of loyalty, to him, the idea of his leadership, and the course itself that I couldn't be honest with him or myself. I would say and write Yes but my actions and insecurities communicated No.

If we are unfaithful to true self, we will extract a price from others. We will make promises we cannot keep, build houses from flimsy stuff, conjure dreams that devolve into nightmares, and other people will suffer - if we are unfaithful to true self.
~ Parker Palmer

Remember that Who We Are list I mentioned in my previous post? It was the list I've been writing, post breakdown, which catalogues the core traits, needs, desires, etc. of Damien and myself. One of the few things we have in common on that list is our shared value of accuracy/truth/honesty. I was not honest with my husband, because I wasn't honest with myself, and this also is a point of deep shame for me.

It was the perfect storm of circumstance, choices we made, personality traits, deeply ingrained beliefs, and unconscious motivations. And as we found out, when I'm in an unhealthy place, once I've lost that sense of self and my confidence, I'm more inclined to go down with the ship than I am to change course.

We have named personality type Six the Loyalist because, of all the personality types, Sixes are the most loyal to their friends and to their beliefs. They will go down with the ship and hang on to relationships of all kinds far longer than most other types. Sixes are also loyal to ideas, systems, and beliefs... they will typically fight for their beliefs more fiercely than they will fight for themselves, and they will defend their community or family more tenaciously than they will defend themselves.
~ Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson (emphasis mine)

But with God's grace my husband had the courage to listen to his intuition (which he could no longer ignore anyway in the face of my anger, blame, ambivalence, and disillusionment) and I had the courage to admit I was wrong and bring all that shame into the open rather than keep crumbling.

We started to confess our faults and failures to each other, our immaturity, and the false idols that had crept in and damaged our relationship with God and each other. We choose to bear each other's pain in that awakening. And then we decided to change course, to learn from our mistakes and to choose self-awareness and individual well-being (spiritual, emotional, physical) as a key piece to a healthy "us".

I had rooted myself in my relationship with Damien, looking to him to be my "sure thing" in life, which included my income-earning work, instead of finding security in my identity in Jesus Christ, who dwells in me, and is the Essence of my life.

After The Breaking, as the light started to shine through the broken places, we decided to return to our original division of labor. I wasn't going to be working in the world until I knew what it was I was supposed to do, and until I had built up my self-confidence. It felt like going backwards, a regression in our story, but it also felt safe. It was known. I needed to heal and Damien, seeing how desperately insecure I had become, sacrificed some of his dreams and goals for me.

He put aside what he had been building, an income-earning dream he had invested huge amounts of time into, to return full-time to work that yielded a better immediate financial return so he could provide me with some measure of security.

This is one of the most loving things Damien has done for me, he sacrificed something of himself to care for me. Yes, we have our faults and we've failed each other, but we keep turning back to loving and serving each other, to knowing each other intimately and choosing to walk alongside each other, to be each other's number one fan and number one friend. Right now, this is how we keep our marriage growing, our relationship nurtured. Not by following a specific guideline of roles and responsibilities (though I tend to love those) but by choosing to love each other in the knowledge of self-awareness and the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It's time for the story to return to my individual work, calling, and vocation, to come into the present. But first, I haven't yet defined these terms, which was an important goal for me in digging deep into this series. So the next post is a glossary of terms and why I define these terms the way I do.

Can't comment?

My sincere apologies if you have problems commenting here. Feel free to shoot me an email or engage at Facebook.