Don’t we all love to experience something before someone else so that we can tell them just how much their life will change when they also experience the same event?
“Just wait until you get married, then you’ll see how selfish you can be.”
“Oh, you think you’re pressed for time now, just wait til you have a child! You won’t have a spare minute then.”
And once someone has a child, if you have two, you can always one up them and helpfully inform them that they know nothing until they have more than one child…or, until they are outnumbered at Mass. I suppose that only the Duggars–who just announced their twentieth baby–are immune from such well-meaning suggestions
So, is it true? Does life end (or only “truly” begin) when you get married/have a child/have another child/insert-life-changing-experience-here? In a word, no. And in fact, the exact opposite can happen. It did with me.
When I was a single Catholic guy, I had tons of time. So much that I didn’t use it very well. I had so much time I was often bored, and I didn’t embark on any large projects (other than my journey to sainthood). Why not? Well, I was waiting. Waiting to begin my vocation, which I believed was marriage.
Sure enough, when I got married (to a wonderful young woman named Katie), my life did change, and I did have less time “for myself.” But I started using that time more effectively. And then we had children. And my free time was cut down by two-thirds. Now I was really squashed.
But what I noticed was that I got even more done. More than ever before. I wrote a book. I developed an apologetics class and taught it at my parish. I used every free hour (well, almost every one) to work on projects, to do something productive. I built a chicken coop and took up beekeeping, all while spending most of my time with my wife and children.
It’s that paradox of not realizing what you have until you begin to lose it. Now, I prize every minute I get and desire to use it working to provide for my family, to help others discover the Catholic Church, and to keep connected with family and friends.
Having a wife and family provided me much need motivation to get up and do something. Not only do I want to give them a good life, but my wife also encourages me to work on constructive projects, whether around the home, on the computer, or in our parish and community. I love to make her proud. For those single people who are doing great stuff even without this motivation, I bow to you. You are better than I was.
So the next time someone gives you well-intentioned advice about your upcoming life change, smile and nod appreciatively, and inside get excited about embracing the gift you are about to receive, as well as the opportunity it provides to grow in virtue. You may just find that, after the event, you have more time than you ever realized.
How about you? Have you discovered an unexpected (but positive) change in yourself after a big life-changing event?
Category: Married Life