The one theme I have been discussing with my spiritual director for some months now is experience of dryness during prayer. In the past, when I prayed, I could sense and feel the presence of God in such a powerful way, to the point that it would bring tears to my eyes. God’s presence was not only known in faith but also felt in the feelings and in the heart. But with time, these signs of God’s presence simply go away and I am left with just bare bones. I pray in faith but without any consolation. Sometimes I feel He is not even there. Almost all followers of Jesus went through the same experience. St. Mother Teresa lived through this experience for the major part of her life. Yet, she held onto God in a faith that was totally blind but certain! Some who cannot bear this apparent absence of God, this new reality of God, quickly abandon prayer and religious practices. Yet, it is through this change that we grow and mature in our relationship with God.
A marital relationship is exactly the same way. People fall in love and they get married, believing that the dramatic and exciting feelings that drew them together will remain forever. Which means, they desire “to freeze” that initial experience in a bottle so that it never changes. But it changes, for sure. No feelings ever remain the same during the course of years. Rather, like alcohol, true love grows through many changes and ferments into a deep, less dramatic and gentle love that uses less words. Unfortunately, the desire to freeze initial excitement and perception often makes persons in a relationship unable to grow and mature through those changes that inevitably occur.
When Jesus speaks against divorce, it does not mean he approves of abusive and unhealthy relationships or marriages. God wants his children to be happy and grow to maturity. Abusive relationships diminish persons and no child of God should submit him or herself to abuse. But when people leave a relationship or marriage because they could not freeze or get back the initial dramatic feelings they had when they fell in love, it means they are putting on hold their growth and maturity; they are circumventing the challenges of maturity.
We grow by facing the challenges that changes bring to our lives. We pray for married people and especially for those that are struggling, that they may find light and direction in their struggles and experience deeper love in their relationship. Amen.