Valentine's Day turns people's minds and hearts to love and romance, but what about God? Should He be part of the equation too?
The question came to mind after reading about my friend Abby Caperton's engagement to her boyfriend Simon Fuhrmann. On her Facebook note about the engagement, she wrote the following: "We ask for your prayers as we discern further for marriage and God's will in our lives. He's our third party in all of this."
I've heard priests lament the fact that couples often come to them for a church wedding more because they want the pomp and circumstance of the event than out of a genuine commitment to their faith. Abby and Simon considering God as a "third party" in their relationship therefore intrigued me, so I asked her about it.
Abby explained that her friend Kendall often kidded her that God was her "wingman" when it comes to relationships, and this situation proved the point. Abby and Simon had been casual friends for a while but the thought that he could be more didn't occur until they were both on a retreat-team together at Immaculate Conception Church in Denton, TX. At a planning meeting during which everyone was practicing the talks they would give during the retreat, Simon got up to speak. As he shared his story, everyone was moved to tears.
After that evening, Abby and Simon often found themselves together at Church or Church-related events, and the conversations always circled "around God and our call to holiness." Still, a romantic relationship wasn't immediately in the cards because both Abby and Simon were discerning potential vocations.
Abby recalled, "As time passed, I found myself praying for him more and more, but it was never for us to be together. It was always that God would prepare his heart and guide him. I just prayed to be an instrument that showed him the love of God." Abby now sees that as God slowly fashioning their hearts together. Her biggest fear was telling Simon about some of her past relationships with men, which took place during a period when she struggled with her self-respect, and before she put Christ first in her life. Simon accepted what she describes as her "past brokenness" with understanding, compassion, and love.
As their relationship now proceeds toward the sacrament of marriage, God and their Catholic faith remain the glue that hold Abby and Simon together. She said, "Separate, we are two complete individuals. Together with God and by His grace, we are one complete unit. He is our glue, our bond, our wingman. Especially in moments when we fall and sin, God is there with us and He gives us the grace to encourage the other to go to Confession, to attend Mass, to pray more, and to read Scripture together. God gives us the grace to lead each other to heaven."
Hopefully everyone reading this will offer a prayer for Abby and Simon as they approach their big day. Their story also offers an important reminder as Valentine's Day draws near. While hearts and flowers are an important part of any relationship, commitment to God is the foundation that will help you weather life's storms. So this February 14, relish the romance but also foster your faith, maybe by doing something simple like sharing a prayer before your romantic dinner. Remember, God is the source of all love and the ideal wingman. Keeping Him as the "third party" in your relationship can help it bloom like a rose.