So much to celebrate

Originally Appeared in : 9905-2/28/19

Paul and I traveled to Savannah last weekend to join about a hundred other couples from our diocese who were celebrating Silver and Golden Jubilees. We made a weekend out of it with our good friends Bill and Kajse, who got married a few months before us so many moons ago.


I was a Maid of Honor in Kajse’s wedding and she was the Matron of Honor in mine, and it was so special to share the festivities with friends who have been an important part of our getting to the 25th year mark of married life. We even met up with the faithful, holy priest who witnessed both of our weddings, and the goodness was overwhelming.


My parents were also in Savannah to observe their Golden Jubilee. Fifty years of marriage. How can that be?! On Sunday, after the Mass, we had a festive meal with Kajse’s parents and Bill’s parents and Paul’s dad and my mom and dad. Paul and my six kids were there and Kajse and Bill’s eight, along with one of my mom’s best friends and a few of my brothers.


There was so much to celebrate. It was an embarrassment of riches.


I found myself smiling through tears in the days after that weekend. I was mostly just humbled. I bet that the other couples who stood to renew their vows that Sunday at that glorious Mass know what Paul and I have learned -- that the only thing you can boast about at a Silver or Golden Jubilee is your dependence on Christ. 


We boast in Christ, not in ourselves.


I’m humbled that God has been so kind to me, giving me a husband like Paul.


I’m humbled by the gift of faithful parents, celebrating 50 years and dwelling “in sickness and in health” and a father-in-law who reached “til death do us part” with his beautiful bride.
I’m humbled and grateful for the incredible couples who journey with us in our desire for faithful, God-centered lives. Like all those other lucky couples in Savannah that weekend, we know it isn’t luck. It’s God, and it’s trying hard to put him at the center of every single thing.


The grace God has so kindly bestowed isn’t all about “making it this far” in marriage, but a grace to try and do the right thing day after day. Our marriage is certainly not perfect, but God so lovingly shines his light on the areas in our life that we need to change, the places we need deeper conversion. The grace God pours out helps us do what we must, to do the right thing. It’s grace to assemble the building blocks that come together for true happiness and joy.


Ethan was a big part of helping Paul and me sneak away to the beach the day before the Mass. He babysat on Saturday, and then he and Elliott loaded up our van early Sunday morning with the rest of our crew. They even stopped and picked up Charlie in Statesboro on the way down, and when we arrived at the Mass Sunday morning, there were my babies, more evidence of God’s kindness to us.


Ethan and I were having a conversation about marriage and 25 years and how you never get to a point (so far I have not.) where things are on auto-pilot. There hasn’t been a point when Paul and I have looked at each other and said “we’ve got this figured out, no need to try anymore.” I explained to Ethan that a lot of marriage gets easier, mostly because you learn about yourself a little better.


But the key to happiness in marriage, it seems to me, is being willing to hold every thought (argument, agitation) captive for Jesus and also to keep a short list of grievances. And then, when certain hurts or frustrations don’t go away and can’t be ignored, it’s having the humility to admit you feel them. That you feel hurt, or lonely, or unsettled. That takes courage in marriage and it’s worth the effort.


(P.S. many thanks to all you kind readers who took the time to say hello at the Mass. It was lovely to meet you and I so enjoy being your columnist.)


Rachel Balducci is a wife and mother of six. She and her husband Paul are members of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Augusta, GA. Her latest book, Make My Life Simple, is available on Amazon.

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