Sarah and I marked six months of marriage in December, and next month we’ll have known each other three years. At these various milestones I tend to step back and look at how we’ve come to where we are. Each time, I am amazed at how God has brought us to this point. When I discerned to leave religious life I came to a clarity that God was calling me to live my life as a married person. But when I left, there was the risk I would never meet anyone. Leaving the Jesuits required tremendous trust in God. But Sarah and I met very soon after I came home to Boston — and now we’re married!
What are the chances I would have met her? One in seven billion?
The chances of meeting “the one” is a calculation we love to romanticize. To think that I had a greater chance of winning the lottery than meeting Sarah affirms that our finding one another was fate. But the downside to this romantic number crunching is that it can leave us in an endless search for Mr. or Ms. Perfect. The truth is, there is more than one person we could marry.
Unless I had an equal chance of meeting all seven billion people in the world, my chances of meeting Sarah and falling for her are much smaller. Sarah and I met online but, given our mutual friends and social circles, we often wonder if eventually we would have met face to face. Still, I found a beautiful person with core values I share, and God blessed it. I married Sarah not because she’s Mrs. Perfect, but because I loved the person she was and wanted to become. I married her not because I beat some wild odds, but because we chose to commit to a life together.
Like any life vocation, marriage requires a choice to commit. That’s half of it. Odds are that this week I will meet another person who, if I had never met Sarah, might have been marriage material. And when I do, I must recommit myself to Sarah. Similarly, those who choose to become religious brothers, sisters or priests must recommit themselves daily to the vocation to which God has led them.
Our wedding rings have inscribed in them the word magis. It’s a Jesuit and Ignatian term that means more. It’s a word that reminds us both that our marriage is about more than ourselves. It means that each day we live, each milestone we reach, and each struggle we encounter, is for a greater purpose. Magis means that we strive to be more generous, more faithful and more loving people.
If you’ve been reading our blog, you know that in our short six months we’ve had struggles, adjustments and joys. Each time I seem to fail at being a loving husband, I must recommit myself to the magis of our marriage. Each time we misunderstand each other, we both must recommit ourselves to the marriage with which God has blessed us.
It’s important to note that even though recommitment is critical to any relationship, it must be in the spirit of a healthy relationship, not an abusive one. And though there is more than one person out there for us, it doesn’t mean we should settle. Finding the best person to share a life with involves seeking those who share our deepest values of life. When I first met Sarah, I was attracted to her deep desire to care for the marginalized. She cared tremendously about family. And she wanted children. These were deep values I shared. As I got to know her more, and we discerned our compatibility and attraction, we chose to close off any other possible “ones” and commit to a life together of love, growth, and learning.
To be honest, I don’t care about the numerical odds of meeting Sarah. There is no one else in the world like her and she is the person to whom I have given my life. We go forward now into our next six months with gratitude and a spirit of magis. Each day I choose to recommit myself to our marriage and I’m excited for future adventures and milestones.
It may not have been a one-in-seven billion chance of meeting Sarah, but this duo sure is like no other! And I sure am happy we did meet.