Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sometimes It's Okay to Just Eat Ice Cream with Your Husband

+JMJ+

My husband has a sweet tooth. I don't particularly remember this being the case when we were dating, but then again we were long distance the entire time...so I probably just didn't know about it yet. Since we've been married I cannot tell you how many times Michael has - out of the blue - suggested we go get ice cream, cookies, cheesecake, danishes, or some other kind of dessert.

For me, his dessert suggestions came a little too frequently - and for awhile there I was pretty good at convincing my husband to settle for some healthier dessert alternatives. Then I got pregnant and hit my third trimester and all bets were off. My husband would suggest we get something and I'd say, "let's go!" 

Once Gabriel was born I got better again at not always giving in to my husband's cravings for sweets. In fact, you would probably think that we gave up sweets for Lent (and perhaps we should in the future) but that is not the case.

Eating ice cream together back in 2011
Throughout this Lenten season I've tried to be mindful that it's a penitential season of sacrifice. Even though I didn't give up desserts for Lent, I would often catch myself trying to hold back and maybe eat less or skip the dessert altogether when opportunities to indulge would present themselves. But here's the thing: while I wholeheartedly think that small sacrifices here and there are good and can provide opportunities to grow in holiness, I realized this week that I got so caught up in the "big picture" of Lent that I almost missed an opportunity to grow closer to God in a very different way.

Michael had been craving a milkshake from a local chain we recently discovered and on Tuesday night he suggested we go get some after dinner. My immediate reaction was to adamantly oppose his proposition, proclaiming that, "it's Holy Week! We should wait until it's Easter to indulge in things like that."

You see, the entire concept of living liturgically is one that I'm very attracted to. I have this great vision of our family a few years down the road where we'll be celebrating the Church's seasons, feasts, and fasts in tangible ways (beyond what I imagine most Catholic families already do) that help us cultivate a deeper, more personal understanding and experience of it all.

However, our very young family isn't quite there yet. Maybe someday we'll be so in tune with the changing liturgical seasons that it will be second nature to sacrifice simple dessert indulgences on non-feast days in Lent (ha...we'll see), but that is going to take time. Not to mention, we didn't even give up sweets for Lent!!! Yet here I was, trying to make us sacrifice something we didn't even choose to sacrifice (individually or as a family) all for the sake of "living liturgically" when we haven't yet discovered what that means for us after a mere year and a half of marriage.

Suddenly a light bulb went off in my head and I realized how completely I was missing the mark by getting bogged down in little self-imposed (unnecessary) regulations. Yes, it's Holy Week. Yes, sacrifices in order to better unite ourselves with our Lord during this penitential season are great and can certainly help us on our faith journeys. But drinking a milkshake with my husband when he has practically been begging me to go there with him all month? Was avoiding that occasion that would bring so much (harmless) joy to my man and forcing him to wait a few more days just because it's not Easter really going to bring us that much closer to God in that moment? Probably not. I think that's what they call "choosing your battles."

That realization combined with a fleeting thought about how precious and short our lives on earth are (as I remembered one of several tragedies that have recently taken place within my home state) led me to immediately be filled with a desire to seize the moment and comply with my husband's eager request. As I let go of my self-imposed rule that we should apparently not have any fun or do anything happy because "it's Holy Week" and life is all somber and serious...I felt myself filled with joy and gratitude for this time with my husband. As I conceded and agreed to Michael's milkshake request I gave him a huge hug, lots of quick kisses, and simply stood there hugging him in the kitchen, never wanting to let go. In that moment I felt more consciously aware of God's loving presence than I think I have all week (aside from many moments with our son because babies just radiate God's love and joy, don't you think?). I'm definitely no theological scholar. And perhaps we have 'failed' at "living liturgically" in the way I still envision for our future by getting dessert in Lent for seemingly no reason (no feast day, I mean)...but I thank God for that precious moment in our kitchen when I simply said, "yes" and embraced my husband.

Plus, those milkshakes were delicious.

Peanut butter. So good.

Maybe next year we'll find ourselves able to resist milkshakes during Holy Week, but this year I chose to instead take that opportunity to enjoy dessert with my husband - literally thanking God for Michael and the blessed life we share together. After all, He died to give us eternal life...and loving and being loved by my husband in this life is one of the best ways I can begin to wrap my head around all that He has given us.

"If you want to feel rich, just count all of the gifts you have that money can't buy."
-Anonymous

3 comments:

  1. I love your perspective! Makes me feel a little better about my Lent this year

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  2. I love this! I feel the same way about "living the liturgical year." We're still figuring out how to just be married; I don't feel the need to create themed meals for every feast day. It was a little weird not doing all my family's Lent and Easter traditions this year, but it also felt good to focus on what felt right for just us right now.

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  3. Oh, I love this! Andrew and I can both get caught up in over thinking and sort of overdoing the sacrificial spirit, too--I love your perspective of fitting in sacrifice and fasting with liturgical living and, even more, of hearing the Holy Spirit calling you to give and make sacrifices in particular ways. I've noticed that things I've felt called to give up have changed since getting married, and I'm right there with you that acts that deepen your relationship and remind you of the Father's love, not acts that are necessarily the most extreme or penitential, are the most fulfilling.

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