by Lesle Knop
Take a pencil and write something on a piece of paper. Now erase your mark. Your mark may be less visible, but the impression of the mark made by your pencil remains, despite your careful erasing.
A couple argues. One person says something that hurts the other’s feelings. “Take it back,” the injured spouse says. “Take it back!”
Retrieving words once they have been spoken is no easier than to erase a mark in an attempt to leave no trace.
Merely by our existence we leave an impression on those we love. We leave indelible marks that will not go away.
As two of our adult children, two nephews, and a few friends have been married in recent months, I have been thinking about the lives they are beginning to “write” with their chosen spouses. In the joy of their young love and the happiness they have found with each other, I have been moved to tears, an emotional maternal witness.
If words of advice are ever heeded, mine would be to take up their pens and compose carefully the script that will be their lives. I would advise them to choose their words carefully, to speak always with tenderness and composure. I would remind them that their actions are their legacy. To say one thing, and to do another, is the clearest and surest way to contradict their integrity, to confuse, and to jeopardize the trust within their marriage and mar forever their own reputation.
It has been said that we evangelize by our works, not by proselytizing. The same is true in a marriage. To love, as we understand love from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, requires patience and kindness — and the careful composure of a thoughtful steward.
One of my sisters advised my newlywed children to always “tithe” and to begin tithing even when they were “young and poor.” She said that it was important that they begin their marriage by placing Christ at the center of their lives. She understands well that, as time passes, we can’t go back and erase what we wish we had done differently. Though we are promised salvation and forgiveness, the stains, the sting, and the regret are best treated if prevented in the first place.
Stewardship, a disciple’s response, is a way of life. Let us pray that all young married couples begin their lives as Christian stewards: giving back, with a fervent understanding that all their blessings, especially their spouses, are gifts from our loving and awesome God.