Work in Progress
Before I got married, a friend of mine suggested that I read Letters to a Young Bride by Alice Von Hildebrand. I must say it was an excellent book. Written almost in the style of The Screwtape Letters, the premise is of an older married women writing to a newlywed, and helping her address the joys and challenges of newly married life. When I thanked my friend for the suggestion after reading it, she said she planned on reading it again soon, and that when she read it before marriage, she thought those challenging or frustrating situations would never apply to her. I confess that when I read the book, I also assumed that Juan and I would bypass all those little frustrations and challenges as well. Everyone says the first year of marriage is the hardest, but not for us, right? We’re so in love. We have such a great friendship. Right?
Well, last week we changed apartments.
After a long work week, we had to vacate the old apartment by Saturday evening. The night before, we had been at a meeting with our Schoenstatt marriage group until fairly late at night. When we got home, I told Juan I thought we could reasonably move in half a day. Famous last words.
Despite my initial optimism, by about 4 o’clock in the afternoon last Saturday, I was seriously wishing we had taken a vow of poverty so I wouldn’t have to try to organize a single thing more to move to the new apartment. It turns out moving was more difficult than we had originally thought. It’s not that we have so many things, but we didn’t have any sort of car or boxes so everything had to be brought to the new apartment in suitcases or one of the apartment building’s several shopping carts. To be fair, the new apartment was only 4 city blocks away, but this was still a formidable project. We had to clean both apartments and move everything one suitcase or shopping cart at a time.
I don’t think Juan and my different organizational personalities have ever been so much on display as on moving day. By this I mean that my organizational personality is non-existent. I’m not organized. I like to be in an organized space, but am perfectly functional when things are a disaster. Juan, on the other hand, is very organized. He cannot function in an unorganized space. For example, if he is going to cook, he has to first wash any dirty dishes in the sink, and he cannot study unless his desk has everything in its place.
Considering this, and how stressed out we were by the move, life in general, my worries about my pending thesis, and Juan’s worries about his upcoming test, I consider it an achievement that we didn’t get into any big fights, although we were definitely getting frustrated. This frustration was frustrating to me. After all, this was us moving into our new home. It was all supposed to be fun and romantic, right?
Finally, later in the afternoon, we realized (and this is probably just common sense) that when you are both really stressed out and tensions are running high, sometimes the best thing to do is just stop whatever you’re doing and go for ice cream.
And that’s exactly what we did. And we talked about how lucky we were to have our little apartment, and most of all how lucky we are to have each other.
When we got back to the apartment, we prayed and asked God to help us enjoy the moving process and get through the coming week, and then we got back to work. After taking the time to cool off and enjoy each other’s company, we did end up having a lot of fun in the final stages of moving, and when it was time to return the shopping cart to the old apartment building, Juan ended up pushing me in the cart down the sidewalk in downtown Santiago at night to the bemusement or bewilderment of the other passersby on the sidewalk.
We still aren’t quite done organizing (will we ever be?) but we’re getting there. The whole process of moving reminds us of one of the things we discussed in our Schoenstatt meeting the night before: the spiritual life, and the process of living out one’s vocation, is a work in progress, a process of dally being open to God’s will. It’s okay that it’s taking some time to move and organize the new home, and it’s okay that it will take some time to adjust to each other’s little quirks and habits, and it’s okay that we sometime get a little frustrated. It’s just part of the process, and part of the adventure, and the romance, and part of God’s plan to make us truly one in mind, body, and spirit.
I am quite sure this year will have plenty of frustrations, lots of love and laughter, and hopefully plenty of ice cream.
Maybe it’s time to reread that book…..