Journey Toward Grace

A Journey Toward Grace

By Kara Emily Krantz

I never thought I would marry.

My parents’ divorce was messy, and echoed throughout the 26 years of my life. I was six when that sacred bond was broken, and the fissure remained in my heart. I grew up misunderstanding the purpose and the purity of marriage, and confused by the seemingly easy destruction of the supposedly sacred bond. I survived, naturally, as so many of us divorced children do. More than that, I thrived. I was an independent, brave, intelligent woman, which only made my disconnection to the concept of marriage that much greater. At 23, I had already received my Masters in Counseling Psychology, I had traveled the world and the country, and I still pulsated with all the potential and adventure inside me. I didn’t need anyone to take care of me, to control my decisions, to limit the possibilities of my life. I was free, and with this freedom I found love for myself, for God, and for life. I did not need the love of a man.

I had a dirty little secret, though, and it lined the multitudes of bookshelves in my room. It was called the historical romance, and tucked within the tabernacles of my heart was the yearning for a love that transcended my 21st century disillusionment and broken beliefs. The secret was also in the folds of my notebooks, filled with line after line of poetry, overflowing with saccharine sentiment regarding the fulfillment of one person through another, and the grace that comes with loving so madly, so completely.

Human love was almost a mystery to me, though. As much as I adored loving others, I never trusted their love for me. I found it to always be conditional, always based upon my successes, my looks, my charm, my wit. I found love when I brought home a great report card, or a new educational degree, when I lost weight or when I landed the lead in a local play. Unconditional love was tucked among the shelves containing Ancient Greek Mythology and Jane Austen period pieces. It was not made to survive in today’s world of Sex in the City and The Bachelor. Our world appeared to toss love away; American society, to me, seemed to treat commitment as a concept, a lofty ideal that was wonderful to look at but laughable in practice.

I wanted to love, and indeed I did enter into committed relationships. It was within the bounds of these relationships that I was cheated upon, lied to, played with, and broken all the more. Granted, there were moments of happiness, and there were unions where I was treated reasonably well. However, there was never equality, never peace, and never that touch of grace made to steal our breath and inspire us to greatness. I yearned for more, but didn’t dare expect it. I could imagine myself living with someone for twenty years or more, but I did not believe I would marry in this lifetime. I believed that love wasn’t defined by such a union, regardless of how holy or loving the covenant. Every day, we decide how to treat each other, and I would agree to spend my life with someone who respected and adored me in return for my mutual affection. Marriage, however, was not necessary, and perhaps it wasn’t even recommended.

Nevertheless, it was only when I found the delicate, healing love of God, as well as an appreciation for the human love that we all can give each other, that a man I could honor and respect… a man I could marry, came into my life. He was younger than me, less experienced than me, and I shed my skepticism and distrust at the mere touch of his unfiltered, unconditional love. Within months, I had a ring on my finger, and within a few more, I was married.

I am not defined by my childhood experiences. Regardless of how empty, loveless, or abusive the unions I see around me, I am not destined to recreate these patterns. I am allowed to love, allowed to believe in my new, wondrous marriage to a beautiful, benevolent man. I could have continued to hide from love, and I would have continued to have a fulfilling, successful life and career. However, by opening my soul to another, I found my anam cara (my soul mate), the other clay half of my soul, and in an ancient, wonderful way, I have been made complete. Every day I have the opportunity to live in a way that will honor that completion, and allow myself to continue to grow within it.

My life is infused with a new light, a wondrous clarity. Priorities have shifted, and I can barely focus on the aspects of life that appeared to be so important in the past. I am infused with the present moment, and I can not be separated from each individual breath I am allowed to inhale. Love itself – love in a deep, profound way, has filtered through my pores, and I can not imagine another way of living. It will be a struggle, and a journey, but with the help of my husband, and the Lord who has joined us together, I pray we will only grow in innocence, purity, and true affection. Together, we have the ability to be a light for others – a beacon to those who also secretly dream of such a life, such a love.

We can all be a light for others. We learn to love by loving, and the more we give, the more it is returned to us. As a counselor, each day I see people who are hurting, who are crying, who are desperate to be loved. I truly believe that each of us are in pain, each of us suffer inside, and conjointly we also all have the ability to ease the pain of others – to offer a glimpse of hope, of light, even if we ourselves are unsure of the way. For we are all but humans on a journey, and regardless of the path we take, the journey will only last for so long. It is the steps in-between that define us, and have the potential to lead us closer to one another.