For those of you that have read my About me page, you know how Shell and Olive got its name. For those that haven’t – read it and catch up!
Ok, now that we’re all on the same page…
When EM and I met we were polar opposites. We both had our deeply held beliefs and we respected that about each other. He an atheist and I a practicing Catholic.
Nothing either of us could’ve said or done would’ve changed that. Until something did.
We started dating (after being friends for years). We got engaged 4 months later. Got married 6 months after that and had our first son just over 9 months later. Like 2 weeks over. Needless to say, our conflicting faith was not an issue. We got married in the Church and though we didn’t hold the same beliefs, he supported me and understood that we would one day raise our kids in the faith.
It wasn’t always easy. There were a lot of tears, hurt feelings, and anxiety on both sides. I was worried that if we never fully agreed on things, that it would make certain life lessons our kids would have to learn even more difficult since mommy and daddy didn’t even hold the same views. Would one of us just stay silent and let the other take the lead? Even if we believed to be in the right, neither of us wanted the other to merely concede. We were and are a team and make decisions together – not being able to come to a mutual agreement on things was not easy. Once he said he wished he could believe, just so that it would make things less complicated. But the fact was he didn’t.
As spouses, we are called to help lead each other to heaven. It was better understanding this fact that flipped the switch. I no longer cared if he converted, I cared that he would get to those pearly white gates! I started to see conversion as just the icing on the cake, not the meat of it. After all, God is not only just but merciful. I planned to do all I could to make that happen. That meant silently and ferventely praying my little butt off. Then to get as many other people as I could to pray theirs off too! I knew the power of prayer could move mountains and I needed to move Everest.
I didn’t make him attend mass with me, I didn’t make him do anything. I only invited him to attend and invited him to pray with me. If he wanted to sit there silently, fine by me. His physical presence was support enough. Weeks turned into months, and months turned into years and he still told me that he would never convert. Id simply tell him – fine by me, but I’m still praying.
Over time and little by little, I started to notice small changes. I started to see a different side of him, one I knew was there all along but one he himself might not have known existed. He began to let God in. I found out that not only had he started saying prayers out loud – like the Rosary – but he started saying silent prayers I wasn’t even aware of. He started getting answers to those prayers and some pretty incredible signs. Signs most Catholics pray for and never receive, he had handed to him on a silver platter. You know when they say – God knows what you need before you do…God KNEW he needed those big signs, and he got them.
Now, this Easter he will be confirmed in the Catholic Church. It will be a day MANY MANY people rejoice – all the men and women I had recruited to pray for him will be celebrating from afar. Some say there is no power in prayer … I say – you’re wrong friend!
Our marriage will always have its ups and downs – because that’s life. We sacrifice together and we succeed together. I was prepared to pick up my cross and carry it. However, being on the same page in ALL aspects of our lives has brought about an amazing peace to our hearts. Peace neither of us fully understood was missing.
*photography credit: The amazing Elizabeth and Patrick Mahon of Elizabeth M Photography