Finding God in Married Love

John and Pat Ryan, Directors of Respite, Inc., a temporary home for disabled childen - South Gibson, Pennsylvania

Where do I find God in my life?

For each of us, there are long stretches of time when each is aware of our live by Faith alone. We do not feel Him near, we do not hear Him. We wonder often if we even did ever know Him. But those moments that were special gifts of Faith to each of us when we esperienced His presence deeply, intimately within, has kept our Faith alive. Each of us mostly finds God in our lives in the people He has brought into our lives.

John: First and foremost, I experience God's love for me within the love of my wife, Pat. Her daily loving me brings a deep realization and experienced understanding of my Father's loving me. Pat sees and knows me more deeply than I know myself, and loves me. In her love I find myself centered, made whole, elevated beyond my own self-expectation. That makes the possibility of God's love understandable. That makes the reality of God's tenderness and passion and desire for me believable and understandable. Pat's love also makes the reality of a loving life touchable and real, in flesh and blood, everyday ways.

Pat: I have found God so often in my husband, John. He shows such unselfish love and tenderness to me that I realize how truly God loves me. John has made me understand more deeply God's compassion.

John: I also experience God in my life through many of the people who have come to be cared for. I have cared for many whose every need in life depends on someone to love them enough to care for them. I became a father by choice to children with a wide range of mental and emotional problems, and developed a ministry to families with children like that, providing temporary family-style care so that families could get a break, find time for others in the family, handle emergencies.

I had a very difficult emotional time at first with youngsters with physical deformities. It was not just that they were unattractive. I often could not even look at them without a sense of repulsion, let alone get near them to feed, change, bathe or carry them.

I overcame that response by reminding myself that these little ones were God's special little ones. Their lives were precious to our Father and Jesus called on us--on me--to feed, clothe and love them, and in doing so, to feed, clothe and love Him. With a prayer "I do this for you, Lord," my actions transformed my repulsion to a deep sense of how very precious each life is. I found that profoundly in some youngsters, learning to find delight in a smile, in a grateful look, in a contented night's sleep, in the grateful message "You treat me like a normal kid!"

Pat: When I first started to take care of children with disabilities, I was somewhat surprised to find how easily acceptance of those disabilities (to see the kid, not the feeding tube) was for me. I thought long and hard about that and have come to realize that this comes from my understanding of Christ's acceptance of His suffering on the Cross. He never condemned His fate, He never said "This shouldn't be." The Cross to me is not a symbol of death and suffering, but a sign of life and, just as these children are, a sign of God's love.

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