A year into our current ministry placement, I made an off-handed comment to the Catholic chaplain on the campus where we serve about how I hoped that in future years, I would learn to become more efficient in the day to day tasks. While neither of us knew it at the time, his response gave new purpose and meaning to my life. “Our concern is not efficiency. It’s fruitfulness.”
In what is often a mechanistic world, productivity is synonymous with efficiency. We’re judged by what we produce. If we don’t have children, we better well have something else to show for it. This was one of the lies I believed. And I’ve had to rethink all of that.
When we’re young, we assume that we will get married someday. We assume marriage leads to (at least two) children. Efficient. Just like that. When the timeline isn’t going as planned, we introduce additional mechanisms in hopes of changing all of that.
When that doesn’t work (and even when it does) we have to step back and learn what it means to be married. The fruitfulness in the midst of my own perceived ‘inefficiency’ has been a deepened understanding of the mystery of marriage and the generative power it has in the lives of many.
Marriage, of course, is an icon of the eternal. It is a signpost pointing to a complete picture of humanity in a wonderfully mysterious union with God. Genesis begins with a wedding. Revelation ends with a wedding. It’s no mistake that Jesus performs his first miracle at a wedding.
Our hope is that our union shows a complete picture of what it means to be made male and female in the image of God. Our hope is to bring good news for all who have seen no tangible demonstration of marriage as an earthly picture of the divine reality. As we give ourselves for one another as Christ gave of himself for us, how can fruitful marriages not only help form healthy families, but spiritual communities for all?