All the little ways matter in marriage

Originally Appeared in : 9818-8/30/18

Our sweet, beautiful Catholic Church is going through a terrible time right now. The crimes and evil being exposed can be scary, but this can also be good. When light shines in the darkness, healing and growth can come — and important changes can be made. May our church leadership have the wisdom and grace to handle all of this with righteousness and clarity.


In the midst of all of this, I’m reminded of the importance each one of us plays within the life of the church. For me, as a wife and a mother, my duty is to live the life God has called me to with faithfulness and joy. The part I play within God’s kingdom is doing what God has asked me to do, and being who God has created me to be, with freedom and surety.


How can my pursuit of holiness impact the life of the church? Think about it. If each one of us — from the cardinals down to the lay person in the pew — was aggressively going after heroic virtue, we would move throughout our day sharing love and goodness to a hurting world. If we looked at each encounter as an opportunity to be Jesus to someone who has never met him, we really could change the world.


It’s the call to evangelize.


I was recently speaking with a friend who is in seminary, and he explained evangelization as “knowing a person and introducing others to that person.” It’s not about ideology but about relationship. It’s bringing people to an encounter with Jesus Christ and bearing witness to the presence of Jesus in our lives.


For me, as a wife and mother, a big part of that will be through living out my vocation, the special call God has given to me as part of my sanctification. Right now, this largely goes back to the time and energy I put into my marriage. Paul and I just celebrated 24 years of marriage, and I appreciate now what it means to make marriage a priority.


When I was a newlywed, I thought time and energy meant a lot of talking and planning and getting things figured out. I assumed “effort” in marriage was just very intense and deliberate. And that’s all very important — planning, thinking, being proactive. Learning to have good communication skills and having a plan and working hard for peace and order — these are all important parts of married life.


But 24 years in, I’ve found that the time and energy that really matters in marriage is in all the little ways we die to ourselves and put our spouse first. It’s waiting a minute before jumping to conclusions. It’s giving someone the benefit of the doubt. It’s being willing to admit when you have hurt feelings (oh man is vulnerability scary!) — and also asking forgiveness when you need to.


It’s being willing to give 100 percent, to stare down each day with an attitude of generosity, of looking for ways to make life better for your spouse.
And when your spouse is approaching marriage this same way, you have two very happy people who feel loved and encouraged and cared for. Those are the people who can walk around looking for ways to be loving to the world around them because they have been treated with so much love.


“You will have found Christ,” writes Flannery O’Connor, “when you are concerned with other people’s sufferings and not your own.”


When each member of our beautiful church lives their vocations with dedication and a thirst for holiness, things will change.


As Father Brett Brannen always told us in his time at our parish, “Holiness will solve all your problems.”


May the Lord be faithful to us in this painful time in our church, and may our commitment to drawing closer to Jesus somehow start to change the face of the church.


Rachel Swenson Balducci is a freelance writer and member of Most Holy Trinity Church, Augusta. She can be reached at

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