My wife and I were married almost a year ago in a modest church in a tiny town surrounded by a large gathering of family and friends. It was the most beautiful and grace-filled day of my life. Looking back, the only way I can describe it is by saying that I was like a small sponge in a vast ocean of grace, completely overwhelmed by the grace of God, soaking it all up as if my life depended on it. Eleven months later, the grace has not stopped flowing.
Several years ago, a friend shared with me something about marriage that he heard from a priest, and I still think about it today. He told me, “Your wife will be the greatest conduit of your salvation.”
Back then, I was moved by this statement. But it really wasn’t anything more than a nice idea. I didn’t really know what it meant then. And how could I? I was in my early twenties, unmarried, and still trying to figure out my vocation. Today, I get it, and it becomes more true everyday.
You see, my wife sees me, all of me, everyday, and still loves me, and that scares the hell out of me! When I look in the mirror, I see the latest pimple on my forehead. I see my past and all the mistakes I have made. I see the darkness that lies behind my eyes from the sins and struggles that I just can’t shake.
But, somehow, my wife sees something more. Somehow she sees beauty in my aging body. She looks not to my past, but to my future and all that I can be. She sees beyond the darkness to the light inside me that longs to break free, and her very ability to see that light makes it all the more real. It draws the light forward and leads me toward greater freedom and fullness of life.
This is grace. This is the grace of God made real in my life through the sacrament of marriage. This is a window into the heart of God, a window into my eschatological future, a time when I will be made whole and holy by the grace of God. Thus, my wife, in a very real way, is a conduit, a channel through which I experience the salvation of God in my life today and the promise of salvation of tomorrow.
But what am I to do with this grace? Certainly I am called to receive it and to soak it up, as I did on my wedding day. But I believe it is also an invitation to generous reciprocity. I am called to be a conduit for my wife as well.
What does she struggle to accept about herself? I am called to especially love that part of her. What does she fear? I am called to comfort her and give her hope. What are the struggles and sorrows that she holds deep inside? I am called to draw them out and hold them with her.
Of course, this is not to say that marriage is all a bed of roses, and that it’s easy to be a conduit of salvation for one’s partner all the time. But it is to say that it is possible, and I believe it is part of the vocation of marriage.
Whatever your vocation in life, I invite you to consider this:
Who are the conduits of salvation in your life? Who reveals God’s grace to you? How are you called to be a channel of grace for your friends and family?