Thursday, January 2, 2014

Having The Courage To Be Happy

Have you read the post "23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You're 23" yet? Well if you haven't, don't. If you already clicked on it, I'm sorry. I apologize that your eyes are surely aflame right now. If you don't want to read it (and really you shouldn't) I'll just give you the highlights.

"I have begun to notice a common thread amongst all these young unions: inexperience.  Inexperience with dating, traveling, risks, higher education, career direction, SEX, solitude, religious exploration, etc… and it’s insane that I have already experienced more of the world in the last 22 years than my married peers will ever experience in their life.

I can’t help but feel like a lot of these unions are a cop-out.

It is a way for young people to hide behind a significant other instead of dealing with life’s highs and lows on their own. It’s a safety blanket. It’s an admission that the world is just too big and scary to deal with it on your own; thus, you now have someone that is legally obligated to support you till one of you dies or files for divorce."

AND...

"I realize that those friends are going to get knocked up and fat soon sssoooo in retrospect, who really is winning here?"

I'll start anecdotally. I was engaged at 21 and married at 22. Steven was 23 and 24, respectively. (If you're interested more specifically on our marrying young story check out this guest post I wrote for Mandi.) We've been happily married for a few years. We're expecting our first child in April and are also eagerly anticipating my graduation from medical school in May. So obviously every person who gets married before 23 will have a long-lasting and fulfilling marriage and be successful at completing their higher education goals like us, right?



Probably not. Statistics show the highest divorce rate occurs when people marry between the ages of 20-24.  I'm not going to pretend like I know what the reason for that is other than suggesting that I think our culture has no freaking clue what marriage (or even love) actually is evidenced by her suggestion that marriage is a "cop-out" and an easy route. Marriage is a wonderful thing but easy it is not. It is about vulnerability, accountability, forgiveness, humility, and commitment. Most of which do not tend to coming easily to me.

Marriage at 22 years old was part of my path though. But so was traveling to India for a study abroad when I was 19. Higher education was (and will continue to be) as well. So were many of the things she mentioned like adopting a dog. Duh! Yet some of them I have absolutely no interest in, like eating an entire jar of Nutella at once, no thanks!

For the record: I don't mind that she's saying it's not a big deal to be single at 23 and that just because your friends are getting engaged doesn't mean you can't do fun, fulfilling things. What I resent is that she's putting the two at odds against each other, that one is better than the other. I resent that it's a competition of who's "winning" and apparently the scale for winning is whether one gains weight or not. Life isn't a competition and if you feel like you've got to "beat" someone else all the time it's no wonder you don't feel fulfilled in your own life.

We don't find fulfillment by deducing that someone else's path is bad but instead by finding that our own path is good. They don't have to be mutually exclusive. We each come to know our vocation and ourselves in different ways and at different times, whether that's through traveling the world in your 20's or by getting married and having a bajillion kids. We should support each other in our vocations instead of tearing the other down.

I could go on and postulate on how her perception of marriage is distorted. I could be petty as she was and call her names and mock those who are single and their lifestyles. I could make a list of things that absolutely must be done to truly enjoy life, things that also conveniently line up with what I value as important but ultimately carry no weight in regards to what others value. I could but instead I'll leave you with the words and advice of a much wiser person, those of Pope Francis.

“Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion; in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of ‘enjoying’ the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, ‘forever,’ because we do not know what tomorrow will bring.

I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage ‘to swim against the tide.’ Have the courage to be happy."

13 comments:

  1. I am going to steal that Pope Francis quote! Well done, Katie.

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  2. Lovely post!!! Loving your reflections and Pope Francis' words as well!

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  3. Amen sister! I love that the Pope has given such attention to this subject. It takes courage, indeed.

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  4. My parents married at 16/17 - still married 48 years later. I married at 17 - divorced 14 years later. My son married at 20 - his wife just finished college and is starting her Masters Degree. He has gone into a specialized career and makes a good income. My parents rarely traveled. We never traveled. My son and his wife travel a good bit, albeit usually with her family. Now... they have had help along the way, the same kind of help he would have gotten if he were single.. things like their cellphones being on parents' plans, living in a rental home my parents own for cheap/free, vacations with her family where they picked up the big portion of the tab - which they would have done either way. The upside is that they have navigated some of the rough waters of young adulthood together and helped each other out - she has a big paper due, he cooks dinner - he has a long day at work, she cooks dinner - and so forth. They don't have kids yet and won't until she's established in her career. Every marriage - regardless of when it starts - is only as strong as the participants.

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  5. Thank you for this...exactly hits upon the problem I had with that article but couldn't quite articulate.

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  6. Thank you for this...exactly hits upon the problem I had with that article but couldn't quite articulate.

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  7. I was engaged at 23, and did some of the stupid crap on the list before 23.

    "Because at the age of 22, I have no idea who I am, what I’m doing, and who I’ll be doing it with for the next year… let alone for the rest of my life. And that’s awesome."

    Well, that's you. And if that is your situation, I understand. But I knew who I was, as did my husband. We happen to have met and had something in common, because we had our act together.

    We're all different. Some people have their sh!t together before others. But she's happy with not having it all together, and some of us I guess were not happy being a mess. There really isn't any fun being a mess. But she wants to celebrate it, I guess.

    Sorry for the profanity.

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  8. I took your advice and didn't read the underlying article, but it really sounds like some good old fashioned tearing people down to make up for the author's own insecurities. I mean, it just goes to show that the (I'm guessing 22-year-old?) author sees young marriages as a "cop out" while the Pope sees the same thing as "courage[ous]." I'm going out on a limb and siding with the Pope on this one. I think you said it well when you wrote, "We don't find fulfillment by deducing that someone else's path is bad but instead by finding that our own path is good." Amen!

    But seriously, I was engaged and married at 22, my husband was 23 when we married. I can't say I knew who I was or what I was doing back then, and at 26 now, I still don't know who I am or what the hell I'm doing. Are those really things that people "figure out" at a concrete point in time? Maybe I'm thinking too philosophically about this, but who really has it all figured out?

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  9. Theresa,

    Marriage is a foundation, nor a capstone. But before you set the foundation, you have to want to build it together.

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  10. Amen Katie! Well done :) +JMJ

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  11. I have seen that article popping up, but the mere title of the article was a turn off to me. However, maybe later when I have a few more minutes, I may have to read it, because I have a few thoughts as well. But I absolutely agree that it is a real problem to stack one against the other and try to figure out which one's "better". Your life is your life, make it a good one, whatever your circumstances.

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  12. "We don't find fulfillment by deducing that someone else's path is bad but instead by finding that our own path is good. They don't have to be mutually exclusive."

    Yes, yes, yes!! So well written!

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