The Grace of Yes Book Club, Chapter 2: The Grace of Generativity

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Welcome back to The Grace of Yes Book Club! Today’s we’re talking about the second chapter, Lisa and Greg are Just Like Christine and Nathan The Grace of Generativity.

Lisa starts by talking about being life-partners with someone who is different than she is, beginning with coming from different faith traditions. She talked about not sharing with her husband, and I recalled times when I did the same, and how relieving it was to finally talk about the things I’d been withholding.

And I loved this part where she talked about what her marriage is and is not:

° My marriage is not a team of two individuals but rather a melding of two hearts making mutual sacrifices toward common goals.

° My marriage is not the total giving up of myself and who I am but rather the lifelong journey toward a better version of the partner I desire to be.

° My marriage is training myself to stop thinking in terms of “I” and “me” and to consider at every turn “us” and “we.”

° My marriage doesn’t mean that I have to spend every waking moment with Greg, but it should lead toward a constantly greater sense of desiring his company — physically and emotionally.

° My marriage isn’t always easy or pretty or perfect, but striving to be the best wife I can possibly be should always be at the top of my priorities. She is the person God desires e to be, making the most of the gifts and talents he has created within me. When I give my very best to Greg and he gives his best to me, we are closest to living out the perfection f the walk with Christ to which Baptism calls us.

She talks about selfless love, giving our ourselves without counting the cost or thinking what we’ll get out of it. It’s something I know I have to work on all the time. Lisa recommends thinking of three trusted friends, people whom you truly love, and asking why you love them. Ask what you give selflessly to each of them, and ask if you hold yourself to the standard of love that St. John talks about in his first epistle.

Let’s take a look at some of the questions at the end of the chapter:

° What early life events shaped your concept of what a generous love relationship looks like?

My parents were a wonderful example of generous love, and showed me what marriage was supposed to be like. They put each other first, taking time to be together (without my sister and I), even if all that meant was going to the Knights of Columbus hall so Dad could tend bar and Mom could sit and talk to him. And it was clear that they were willing to sacrifice for my sister and I, too. I remember my father taking a second job in the evenings, working at Caldor (a store like Target) to afford to purchase a bedroom set for me from my friend’s parents. Dad commuted to northern New Jersey from our home in Toms River every day because living there was better than living in the more expensive parts of the state.

They made sure we got to go on vacations every year, even if it was camping trips instead of hotels. (And we loved it!) They sacrificed to buy me a piano and pay for lessons when I was in elementary school. There was never a doubt that my parents loved me. Even when I was angry that I couldn’t do something other kids got to do, I still knew they loved me.

I always hope to be the same kind of parent to my children. I hope they always know I love them, and I hope that I’m successful in weeding out the selfishness that remains in me so that I might be a better mother to them.

° Who in your experience are examples of selfless love that you might emulate?

The very first example that comes to mind is my husband. I am humbled by his love for me and all the ways that love is manifested in my life.

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Nathan might not bring me flowers (it’s a running joke that I will call him after buying a bouquet and say, “You got me flowers, and they’re beautiful!”), but I know I can depend on him. When I’m not feeling well, he steps in. When I’m stressed out, he comforts me and helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel. When I need someone to cry on, to rant to, to celebrate with, he is the one person I want to do that with. When I hear other women wonder aloud at what they’ll do with their husbands after retirement, I just don’t get it. There’s no one I’d rather spend time with than Nathan, and when we get to be together all the time, it’s going to be AWESOME!

But the biggest examples of selfless love Nathan has demonstrated in our married life were when I was pregnant and suffering from hyperemesis. When I was so sick I couldn’t care for myself, let alone anyone else, he stepped in and handled everything. When I was pregnant with our first daughter, this meant working full-time, taking care of laundry and cooking and shopping, and shuffling between the hospital where I was and the hospital where his father was. (Nathan’s father was diagnosed with lung cancer the same week I made my first trip to the hospital.) He cared for me while also running back and forth to his parents’ home to visit his dying father. The weight he carried that year was so immense, it’s hard to believe he made it through. Add to this the fact that he was also preparing to change jobs within the company he worked for. 1998 was a truly difficult year for us all.

And yet, he made no complaint. Nathan put his head down and just put one foot in front of the other and just pushed through to the end.

And when hyperemesis struck again with our second daughter, Nathan stepped up again. Working and traveling occasionally, he’d shuttle our 2 year-old back and forth to my parents’ home and take care of everything in the household in addition to his regular responsibilities. Not only that, but he also made sure I was able to visit with my grandmother, who was suffering from cancer and heart failure. When she passed away while I was still somewhat sick, Nathan got me to everything: viewing, funeral, the closing up of her house — even helping family with moving things out of the house on the weekends.

Nathan did all of this without complaint. He didn’t even flinch. I needed something, he made sure it was done. I am in total awe of his love, the unwavering dedication he has for me. The way he just steps up.

When Live Free or Die Hard came out, we went to see it in the theater. There was one part where John McClain is asked why he’s doing all of this stuff. Why risk your life? John said that someone needed to do it. Someone needed to be the guy who stepped up and did what was right. “I’m That Guy,” he concluded. Nathan told me that he wished he could be That Guy in life.

I told him that he already is, as far as I’m concerned.

Now it’s your turn! Join the conversation over at CatholicMom.com!

4 thoughts on “The Grace of Yes Book Club, Chapter 2: The Grace of Generativity

  1. Pingback: The Grace of Yes Day! | Domestic Vocation

  2. I have been married for forty-four years to my best friend, biggest supporter, and amazing lover. We are happier with each other than with anyone else, though we have an active social life. We put our partner’s needs first in all things. There is tremendous joy in that. He is the great love of my life, and I am the great love of his. It just doesn’t get any better.

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  3. I have had four careers; hold a graduate degree; am a mother; and breed, train, and show dogs. Yet nothing makes me happier than my forty-four marriage to the most loving, thoughtful, generous man imaginable. My parents were married for forty-seven years, and his for fifty-six, before death ended their physical relationships. Maybe there is a lot to be said for example.

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