This past Lenten season was the most meaningful one to me yet. It probably has a lot to do with this being the first Lent as a married person.
Being married has changed my perspective on a lot of things so far. It’s funny, during our honeymoon I kept telling my husband, “I don’t feel married; I don’t feel any different.” My married friends & family were telling me how different it is being married vs. engaged. I felt the difference from dating to engaged instantly. I remember thinking THIS IS IT; we were instantly much closer. So when it was day 3 of our honeymoon & I felt the same as I had the week before – over the moon happy & in love, but no different – I was wondering what everyone else was talking about. Then it started hitting me slowly. I started shifting focus from my husband being ‘the man who makes me happy’ to ‘my #1 priority on Earth.’ He’s my partner for life. That doesn’t just mean that he’s stuck with me for the rest of his life, it means he is my partner in this thing we call life. I always told him I wanted to ‘do life with him’ – not just be happy. There is a difference. I hope our life together is happy, but even when it’s not I want to go through it with him.
So this Lenten season we just experienced was very special to me.
When Ash Wednesday came, we had just gotten some sad family news. I wrote a post about making a pie for my husband that night to cheer him up. The service at our church was just what we needed. I really love our church & I am very grateful that I can make it to most of the non-Sunday events. It’s not a ‘feel-good’ church – I don’t leave services thinking everything is awesome & skip home. I am reminded that I am a sinner & Jesus died for me. There is one phrase from my Catholic days that goes around my head every now & then. I didn’t fully understand it back then, but rote memorization is good for some things. Lord, I am not worthy to receive you. But only say the word & I shall be healed.
So between Ash Wednesday & Palm Sunday there were no ‘special’ church services or other events to keep us in line. We had to try & focus on God on our own. I gave up chocolate for Lent & my husband gave up road rage. Not that it’s a contest, but I think he ‘won’. I didn’t have a single piece of chocolate all through out lent – not even on Sundays which are supposed to be exempt from the self denial. But it wasn’t meaningful, like, at all. It wasn’t even that hard – and it didn’t make me any healthier because I certainly made up for it with non-chocolatey desserts (like the aforementioned pie). My husband, on the other hand, even though he didn’t maintain a perfect 40 days of calm in the car, probably benefited more by his actions, & so did I. Anytime a car cut us off & I saw him get tense I would tell him, “It’s still Lent.” That was more meaningful a reminder to me than skipping on a piece of chocolate. He was reminded to change his thoughts & actions against others because it was Lent, and he says he is trying to maintain that calm in general. I, on the other hand, had chocolate almost immediately on Easter Sunday without a second thought. Having a partner in life keeps me focused; I’m accountable to someone. My husband cares about me & redirects me if I mess up. He celebrates with me when things are going well. I think he would say I do the same for him.
On Palm Sunday, my friend Beth & I had the pleasure of playing hand bells to accompany the choir & children’s choir singing Hosanna. It was wonderful seeing the little kids come in with the palms. Our church does a really good job of getting the kids involved with worship. Our husbands cheered us on as we served the church in this way. I’m very happy we have married friends who love Jesus. Our single & non-Christian friends are awesome, too, but with another Christian couple we can vent & bounce ideas around that others may not understand or relate to. Beth & David have been married for over a year, & watching them together gives my husband & I things to look forward to!
Holy Thursday service at the church was very moving. Our church did a service of the nails. Everyone got a nail when they walked in & held it throughout service. It was powerful. A meaningful moment for me was when I sneaked a peak at my husband while he was holding the nail & praying with his eyes closed. How
lucky blessed am I? During the service, different words were nailed to a cross, representing sins.
Photo credit to my Sunday school friend, Angela.
We also had communion during this service. I was very happy for that. John Wesley said, “…the duty of every Christian to receive the Lord’s Supper as often as he can.”
For Good Friday, I stuck to the traditions of my Hispanic Catholic childhood & abstained from eating meat, & introduced the tradition to my husband. I actually really like that tradition because it is more cultural than spiritual. I like that even people who do not fully appreciate what Good Friday & Easter really mean are aware & paying homage to the sacrifice. Now that I am a ‘non denominational Christian who currectly goes to a Methodist church’ (thanks, Josh), I would call that prevenient grace.
I also wanted to do a Messianic seder. Well, I got the idea while I was sitting at work on Good Friday (I meant to ask for the day off so that I could attend the Good Friday service at church, but alas, I did not.) My friend Caroline did a seder in college & it was so great to celebrate Jesus’ last supper. I love the freedom we have as Christians to celebrate Old Testament rituals without being bound by the laws. Most Messianic seders take place on Holy Thursday, but this year, Passover & Good Friday coincided so I figured it was OK to do it then. We invited Beth & David over, & I drew up a little script & everything.
We had a 5th table setting for Jesus. It was pretty informal, but very meaningful. We had seafood instead of lamb (see Good Friday above), so it was a blending of several traditions. The most important thing is that it was all for God’s glory. It was a lot of fun to have fellowship with our friends with traditions we don’t typically observe. I am so grateful to have a husband who enjoys praying & worshiping with others. Especially since this was an impromptu thing on my part, & he was totally down for it!
Saturday, we took our niece to my coworker’s Easter egg hunt party. It was a lot of fun. We hadn’t spent the day with her in a while! Plus, everyone kept joking with us that it was good practice! I made a Bunny Cake & my 2 year old niece immediately said ‘my bunny cake’. How precious! At the end of the day we sent her back to my parents’ sound asleep, despite all the sugar!
Easter Sunday was great. Since we were playing hand bells, we got to attend/perform at both the 1st service & the 3rd service (the two traditional services). Also, since Easter fell on the first Sunday of the month, we got to receive communion at both services! On top of performing with the hand bell choir, my husband also played trumpet in the brass quartet. I cannot reiterate it enough how happy & proud I am to have a husband that loves serving the Lord in that manner! When we met in high school marching band over ten years ago, I could have never imagined that he would be my husband & I would get to see him play at church. It’s so funny how God works in our lives!
There’s a quote from Nancy Leigh DeMoss I saw on Pinterest, “The ulitmate purpose of marriage is not to make us happy, but to glorify God.”
I love that quote. So far, marriage has made me much more aware of God’s presence. I am constantly reminded of God because my husband is made in God’s image. I know that everyone is, but for some reason it’s in my husband that I see this clearer than I ever have before. My marriage is not just a piece of paper, or betting my husband half my stuff that we’re staying together. My marriage is, indeed, something holy.