Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Seeing myself more clearly

I can read nonfiction books from time to time.  Self-help, practical, how-to books (and biographies) are books I can read if I can find the time and motivation.  Fiction books aren't my thing; I can't shake the feeling that I'm wasting my time when I could be doing something more practical.  Call it the productivity monster in me.

I've never tried listening to an audiobook, so I was excited to recently get one from Amazon the other day to try to listen to while I'm driving so I don't have to find extra time to sit down and read.  It's called "The Power of Prayer to Change Your Marriage" by Stormie O'Martian.  She's written all of the "The Power of (a Praying Husband / Wife, a Praying Parent, Praying for Your Adult Children, etc.)" books, which I love because they give you great prayers to reflect upon in your relationships.  "The Power of Prayer to Change Your Marriage" isn't just for struggling marriages, as you might think upon reading the title; instead, it's a book that offers prayers and reflections on strengthening your marriage, especially in areas where one or more of you might be weaker than others.

I just started it yesterday and have only gotten through one chapter but something has already struck me and offered opportunity for reflection -- how being married opens your eyes, quite widely, to see your own shortcomings.  I don't remember the exact phrasing, but let me explain.

I think it's safe to say that I've been at least somewhat aware of my own weaknesses and character flaws as an adult.  Through examinations of conscience over the years to relational communications with the different people in my life, the ways in which I fall short of being perfect have been made quite aware to me.

Now that I'm married, though, I find myself continuously noticing and becoming more and more aware of those ways.  I meet once a month with a spiritual director and every other week with an accountability partner, and both of these individuals help me to seek out those ways in which I can improve myself, as a Catholic, daughter, employee, friend, sister, co-worker, leader, follower and wife, among the other roles I play.  Every time Mark and I have a disagreement or I feel any disarray about something in our marriage, I see a new perspective on my behavior, how I can try to stop changing Mark and start working on myself.

More than ever, I can see where I need God's grace.  Mark may say something about the way I'm acting; he may not.  It may be my own guilt and examination of conscience that allows me to see myself through his eyes, and then I may say something about how I will try to improve; I may not say something.  Many times, I just resolve to work on something myself or tell my spiritual director and accountability partner and see how altering my behavior or approach may improve mine and Mark's marriage over time.

Being able to see your faults more clearly is not a bad thing, though.  I don't think it means that I'm any more of a sinner or that I'm a bad person since we got married.  I just think it means I have more opportunities to ask and receive God's grace to become the person He's called me to become.  Mark's helping me to get to Heaven, and I know he's there to assist God in helping me become the saint God's called me to become.  [*We're all called to become saints -- not just me! :)]

I consider it a blessing, most days (!), that I can see ways in which I can improve.  I know trying to become a better wife will only help me to become a better everything else -- Catholic, daughter, employee, friend, sister, co-worker, leader, follower, etc.

I have a looooong road to go and I don't even know the half of it, but I have hope and faith that I can travel it and enjoy the ride.  I'm so thankful to have Mark there to encourage me along the way.

Halloween 2007

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