Basketball and the Grace of Marriage, available at:

Happily Even After

Basketball and the Grace of Marriage

June 7, 2010

Joshua and I are both basketball players.  Among other things.  It may sound weird to say as 30-somthings, but it is a real part of each of our identities and it actually played a fairly significant role in our getting to know one another early in our relationship.

See, we were both high school basketball players on highly successful teams.  I hate to have to actually go here, but for the sake of completeness:  Josh’s high school team was state champion in South Dakota for years and years in a row.  My high school team played in the final four in Florida 2 out of my 4 years.  My junior year we played for the championship.

Now, here is the first insight into Joshua and me.  His team won the championship game and my team came in second.  Don’t think that EVER escapes mentioning in our household.  Also, of note, is that his team was first in SOUTH DAKOTA.  They only have one Congressional Representative!  Not a big pool of competition if you know what I mean.  My team came in second in the hugely populous state of Florida.  Not too shabby and I think those two facts together even the playing field, so to speak. 

We were both role players on teams that functioned as strong units.  I think that has all kind of impact on how we can be so different and still able to work so well together.  We get the concept of team.  We get what it means to work hard everyday so that we have what it takes in crunch time.

I mentioned this played a fairly significant role in getting to know each other.  Well, Joshua and I had two classes together our freshman year of college.  One huge chemistry class and one very intimate seminar.  We took advantage of the opportunity to “study together” for the chemistry class, but also started meeting to play basketball together early in the mornings before seminar.  1-on-1 at 8am. 

It is a complete testament to how interested in Joshua I was that I woke up that early, walked all the way across campus and played 1-on-1 of all things. 

I was basically a pretty shy girl when it came to basketball.  I loved the team aspect and giving it everything I had, but I was never a 1-on-1 kind of girl, much to my sweet father’s chagrin.  But for these morning outings, I dug deep and did my best.

Which makes me think back to the night before our wedding.  We had a priest say a vigil mass just for the two of us.  He mentioned in his homily that we should be on the look out for special graces that come to us through the Sacrament of Marriage.  Special gifts that God gives us along with the gift of grace and one another.

I have thought of that from time to time over the years, and it is only in the last several months that I realize what one of the graces of my marriage has been for me as an individual.  I think it started back on those mornings we were playing 1-on-1.  My grace is confidence.

I have become a much more confident person through my relationship with Joshua.  I project an image of confidence that did not exist in me prior to our relationship.  I would NOT have stepped on a court to play head to head with someone before I met him, and certainly not against a boy.  But with Joshua, and for Joshua, I did.

Reader Comments (2)

  • Hi guys! I am engaged so I’ve been checking out this website, and I was so surprised to see you on it! I am a second year JV in Missoula and I heard you speak at orientation this past year. I’m engaged to one of my housemates that I met during my first year of JVC in Spokane. We’re getting married this summer. I was encouraged to hear that you had a non-traditional marriage timeline. I’ve heard plenty of “I can’t believe you are getting married right after JVC!” I’m curious if you thinking being JVs together impacted your marriage.

    • Hi Jackie,
      Congratulations on your engagement! Joshua and I DID find our time with JVC particularly formative as a couple. Generally speaking, post-graduate service is some of the only “lay formation” available outside a degree program. For us specifically, being from completely different types of families and completely different regions of the country, our JV experience helped us to be shaped in the same values and share an intensely formative experience. Our shared life in community made the experience of starting our own household pretty easy and very “intentional” as you can imagine :-)


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Star Wars

How to Talk to Your Kids About Star Wars

If you are a human being who lives on the planet Earth, you know that there is a new Star Wars movie coming out sometime before Christmas.

If you have children, now is the time to have your deflector shields tested—they are about to be soaked in a Star Wars merchandising campaign that will stretch from Tatooine to Dagobah. It will literally rule the galaxy. Mark my words, by January you will be throwing your glass of chardonnay against your brick fireplace if you so much as hear one more thing about Kylo Ren or Poe Dameron or that infernal crossguard lightsaber.

We will all be swimming in Star Wars for the next two months, so it is good advice to get ahead of this curve and talk to your kids about this movie franchise.

I am a huge Star Wars fan, and I plan to relish the new movie in the same way a Rancor would devour a Gamorrean Guard. The youngest of our kids is 8 now, so they are just old enough to dive in to this cultural trend and swim along for themselves. We’ve been re-watching the original trilogy and even the prequels so that we can run into Dec. 18 primed and ready. I even brought home a giant Star Wars coloring book—we’ve been spending evenings coloring Boba Fett posters.

I’ve been unabashedly encouraging these movies with our kids. The Star Wars universe loomed large in my youthful imagination, so this is a way to share an important part of myself with them. I’ve also been encouraging it because the Star Wars story world, at its heart, is about mystery and redemption, and I hope (with all my heart!) that the new film continues this theme.

Let me offer the paradigmatic example of Luke Skywalker’s climactic encounter with his (spoiler alert!) father, Darth Vader, in the last movie of the trilogy, The Return of the Jedi. Luke’s training to become a Jedi will not be complete until he faces Vader. Vader takes him to the Emperor, who conjures the dark side of the Force to electrocute him. Vader, conflicted by the cries of his tortured son, relents and grabs the Emperor and throws him down an abyss, where he perishes in a gale of fury.

What do we have here? A son who is willing to suffer. Suffering that moves a father to mercy. A father who destroys death. Sound familiar?

There are strong parallels with the story of our own salvation. When we sin, we put ourselves inside of the black suit and mask that Vader wears—our sin brings tyranny to the relationships in our lives, and makes us less than fully human.

Jesus confronts that sin through a willingness to be overwhelmed by it. His willing sacrifice builds a bridge: it moves us to convert, to grab with full and decisive arms all that hinders life in us and overthrow it. It also moves the Father to overthrow death itself—to promise new and abundant life beyond death.


Using Star Wars as a Teachable Moment

So, back to the crossguard lightsabers that every child will have on their Christmas list—how can we break open the mystery of our faith that resonates within this Star Wars story world? If you will see the new “Force Awakens” episode with your kids, I would recommend watching the original trilogy (episodes 4, 5, and 6) with them, just to prime their imaginations for where this story has been.

Below are some conversation prompts you might consider using after each episode of the original trilogy to connect the Star Wars story to the mystery of our faith.


Episode IV: A New Hope

Prompts: Who is Luke Skywalker, really? How does he come to know his true identity? Where does this new identity take him? Why does Obi Wan give himself up in his fight with Darth Vader? What happens to him?

Connections: Our truest, deepest identity resides in our baptism, which makes us adopted sons and daughters of God. Knowing this gives us strength to go on adventures—to do things we never thought were possible, even to give up our lives to help other people. It also gives us new life, even beyond death. When we die, we know that we will still live with God. And those who have died before us can still help us with their prayers—they are still with us.


Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Prompts: What is the Force? How does it give people power? What can people do with the Force? What does Luke have to do to feel and use the Force?

(Warning for Star Wars buffs: It is blasphemous to reduce the Force to a function of midi-chlorians, so don’t step in that Sarlacc pit or you’ll never get back out, I don’t care if you have Boba Fett’s jetpack.)

Connections: The Holy Spirit is God, together with the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit lives within us and gives us the power to do good. When we pray and do good things—especially when it is hard—we grow in God’s grace, and become even better at using it. The Holy Spirit is always with us and will always help us.


Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Prompts: Did Luke love Darth Vader? How could we tell? What did he do because of that love? How did that love change Darth Vader? How did that love save Darth Vader?

Connections: Love gives us courage to do difficult things, even to face things that terrify us, even to suffer, even to die. Jesus loved us like this—he didn’t get electrocuted, but he was willing to suffer on the cross, which hurt just as much. But he knew that God would take care of him—God gave him new life. When we love that way—without being afraid—it gives us new life, too. And it connects us to everyone else who loved that way.

Think of the party on the forest moon of Endor as an image of heaven—it is a great feast that includes even the departed, who appear through the Force in a kind of communion of saints.

More For Your Marriage

Throughout, links to other websites are provided solely for the user’s convenience.
USCCB assumes no responsibility for these websites, their content, or their sponsoring organizations.

Copyright © 2015, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved.
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington DC 20017-1194, (202) 541-3000 © USCCB.

Basketball and the Grace of Marriage, available at: