Chris Faddis is a dear friend and has an amazing testimony. Chris’s book, It Is Well, is a testimony about his journey with his own wife, Angela. On Easter Sunday, 2011, Angela was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. She died only 17 months later, leaving Chris and two young children.
You’d think that Chris would be justified in being a little sore, but he’s not. In fact, It Is Well tells about the journey of Angela’s illness and will make you look at marriage in a holy new light.
Chris wrote this letter to a friend before his wedding, and it was so great we wanted to share it with all of you during the #itiswellblogtour.
The names have been changed for privacy.
As you embark upon this great adventure, I wanted to share a few words that are at the fulcrum of living out this great Sacrament of Marriage.
Remember one very key thing. Sarah, though yours in a sense, is not yours for now or even yours forever. She is yours to safeguard, to protect, to spoil, to cherish, to delight in, to encourage, to bless, to make beautiful love with, to live out your call to raise children with. But none of those are the “ends” which your relationship seeks. Ultimately she is yours to lead to heaven. We hear and say that phrase often and we even romanticize that phrase. It is a sweet thought for a Christian. But too often people forget what that means. To truly and freely love her you must understand what that means.
I say this not to be dark or melancholic. I say this because without this truth you will not fully love Sarah to the end for which she was created. Understanding that your job is to love her to heaven is important, but you must also realize, my friend, that this means she will not always be yours. Your love cannot outlast her existence. At some point she will be taken home to heaven and, to that end, she will belong to God. Sure, you will one day be together in the mystical body of Christ, you will be joined as with all the rest of the community of believers but not as one, not as husband and wife. Sarah will indeed one day belong fully and totally to God’s heart. God’s love is too great and too wonderful and at some point we all must go to that love – if we so choose, of course.
You will one day say goodbye to one another. One of you will be left behind. I think it is with this levity that you must enter this Sacrament. You must understand its end, its purpose, and you must even feel a sense of that despair now in order for you to freely and fully enter. While Angela and I were engaged, I had this realization that she was not mine forever, that one day she would leave or I would leave. I recall very clearly feeling a sinking in my gut for several days. It was almost a grief. Little did I know that so soon I would actually experience it for real. But I tell you with great confidence that I think this knowledge early on was an absolute grace. Not only because I would have to face that reality so much sooner than I would have ever thought or hoped, but also because in having that understanding it helped me to fully understand the purpose of my role in her life.
It can seem quaint to say “we are called to lead each other to heaven.” But when you fully understand that your love will not outlast her existence, that one day she will go to a love that will swallow your love whole; when you understand that at some point she will drink from a fountain of love so great and so vast that the love you gave her will barely seem like a drop of water on the tongue in comparison, it is then that you can understand that this is not a quaint thought. This is an awesome and supernatural responsibility. If you fail to get her to heaven then you know where she will go – that place that she will never taste love again. Your call today is to quench her thirst for love while fighting for her heart – all for the sake of getting her to heaven.
If ever you choose to fight for her heart for yourself and with your love as the end, you will be leading her away from heaven. So many – even good men – do this. They quench their bride’s thirst with their love as the end and at some point they realize that they cannot quench that thirst alone. This is when the man begins to be empty, begins to withdraw because he cannot quench her thirst and he has nothing left to give. The woman then becomes dry and finds herself feeling left alone. But for the man who sees the end to which he is called to love, God continues to fill his cup so that he might continue to quench her thirst and lead her to heaven. In so doing she will continue to flourish as a woman in all her beauty in and out and the man will be greatly rewarded as her beauty and love for him grows and grows.
Ah, Joseph, it is an awesome thing you are about to embark upon. But remember its end. Live your life with the levity of knowing that one day she will be yours no longer. This knowledge will get you through those difficult times. There will be days and even seasons when you are not sure if you “signed up for this.” There are parts of her you will see and know that you did not know existed – perhaps she didn’t even know. The ugly side of our human nature will come out and you will at some point wonder if you have what it takes – if you “signed up for this.”
Let me assure you of two things – yes you did sign up for ALL OF IT. But I also will assure you that the grace of the Sacrament of Marriage will indeed be sufficient. That’s why you must continue to drink from the fountain of living water to ensure you do have what it takes. Do not let your tank become empty. Do not let yourself become dry. Let your love for Sarah be the fruit that pours out of your relationship with God. If you find yourself getting easily frustrated or provoked by her, then you must throw yourself to God’s mercy and grace. Frequent Confession and frequent the Eucharist.
Remember the end. Cherish every day. Delight in every part of her. You will find great joy in all of these and you will truly be able to love freely. One day you will indeed hear those words, “well done, good and faithful servant.”
With great love and encouragement,
Learn more about Chris and his story at www.ItIsWellBook.com or on Facebook at Angela’s Support page. You can also find Chris on Twitter: @faddicus or on Instagram: @itiswellbook.