At last night’s RCIA class, we talked about the sacrament of marriage. It reminded me of something I heard many months ago that has resulted in a shift in my attitude toward marriage. Someone was listing the seven sacraments, and they described marriage as one of the sacraments of service. Service?! That was not in the first dozen words to pop into my head about marriage. But then I began to think over all the years that my wife and I had been married (17 years and counting), and sure enough, service to others is a BIG part of being married.
There are many levels of service in a marriage and in a family. There are the little things you do to help or please your spouse, i.e. bring home some flowers, cook his or her favorite meal, do some of his or her share of the household chores, etc. If your spouse gets ill, you are right there to help him or her through it. If you have kids, well, your next 20 years or so is devoted to them by changing diapers, wiping snotty noses, putting bandaids on scraped knees, driving them to the mall, hunting all over town for that one special Christmas present, and another billion and half things. (I haven’t even touched upon what goes into being best friends with your spouse.)
Now, I have been doing most of these things over the years. I admit that sometimes I am much better at it than at other times. But I had always thought that was just what you did in a marriage. It was all part of living together in a family. It was part of the committment I had agreed to when I said “I do.” We help each other. We care about each other. What is different in my attitude now is that when you do help someone, be it a family memer, a friend, or a stranger, you are showing love towards others. You are showing love for God.
And after all, that is what He commanded us to do—love God, and love others. Service is a way of expressing that love for both. (See The Question)
Now I don’t mind so much when I have to do the dishes or a load of laundry.