Updated: Jul 30, 2019
There were times in my life I thought I’d never have true peace. There were times I questioned whether I’d meet a good Catholic man. In marriage I wondered if we’d be able to have children. Without my faith I would have carried on trying to silence my doubt and fill my voids with materialism, vanity, lust, etc. With God I knew that the only true tragedy in life is ignorance of Him, so I tried to remain faithful, obeying his commands, and getting to know him more deeply. The Cross of the hard times didn’t feel as heavy because God is enough.
At 26 years old, between my parent’s divorce at 15, two complicated relationships from 20-25, and some very bad decisions throughout, I began to feel like I would always be broken beyond repair. If I were to get married and have a family, I thought, I’d live in perpetual anxiety, waiting to be hurt because that’s what happens in life: the people you love let you down in profound ways. It was a bleak outlook which left me anxious and with stomach problems. I knew rationally that God is a good Father who heals and restores, and that the familial and personal pains and mistakes of the past do not dictate the future--He makes all things new. I KNEW this in my head, and I hoped for it in my heart, but I doubted whether it would ever happen for me. The only times I felt peace for days and weeks, consistently, were when I was single, living in hope of a brighter future because that’s what God promises. A spiritual advisor told me that my vocation is, without a doubt, marriage: that is where my vulnerability would be exposed and my pain would be tested and healed, but it needed to be with the right man.
When I was 27 I was catapulted out of the Niagara Region to a Youth Ministry position in Mississauga. At this point I had resolved to be alone rather than date a man who didn’t love God more than anything else. If I had ANY chance of being happy, I needed to break the cycle of lukewarm faith passed from generation to generation and go all in. This is a problem I see with young people and young adults quite often: they are afraid to raise the bar high, discovering who they are in Jesus. Rather, they settle for mediocre relationships, defining themselves by sexuality, materialism, etc. They’re not listening. I wasn't listening for a long time, either, but thankfully, I got there. God had told me that I would be married, but I’d have to exercise some patience. In that time I did my ministry thing, excited to wake up each morning to see what He would like me to do that day. I expected this peaceful singlehood to last for at least a few years. It lasted a few months.
Two weeks after moving to the GTA I met Ante Skoko. For those of you who know Ante, you know he’s a freak of nature in terms of his generous heart, ambition, interests, and accomplishments… But most notably his fortitude for Christ. In one another we had found everything we could have dreamed of, and we both happened to be Croatian, which was the cherry on top! Engaged in 4 months, and married 6 months later, my life with this man has been more than I could have dreamed of. For the first time in my life I can live in the moment for days, weeks, and months at a time, knowing that my husband loves me, is honest with me and faithful to me, accountable to God first, striving to be a better husband and father. However, it took me almost one year into our marriage to fully trust Ante… To silence the paranoia in my mind, and push through the sadness in my heart. This took openness and honesty with him and with myself. It took prayer, and it took unwavering obedience to my vows. I had to acknowledge the pain of the past and forgive. The most critical thing: Ante never questioned us. His love never wavered. He not once considered leaving. He knew that I was God’s gift to him, and that he was called to love me, even when it hurts. He is not only a man I’m drawn and attracted to, impressed by, and in love with… He is a man who gives me the freedom to love authentically because he keeps me safe through the storms. I had the strength to work through my demons (as did Ante) only by the grace of God and with my husband's Christ-like support.
It is ONLY through obedience and striving to reach God—aligning my goals with His—that I can say I have peace. As you know, my exceptional husband eventually came; so did my baby. I thank God each day for these gifts... But they only show me more deeply that they do not and cannot define who I am. Only He gives me the fulfillment and peace I long for, and I want it more deeply, becoming in tune with the subtle and miraculous ways God moves in my life. I also want it for you...
I pray each day that we all become better, more obedient Christians, acknowledging and working through our faults, seeking reconciliation with God and one another at every turn, making this world what it was meant to be.
1. Don’t be lukewarm. God spits out the lukewarm. Read Scripture and pray daily, growing in understanding of Catholic Church doctrine (these are non-negotiable if you want to grow in faith).
2. Do not settle for a relationship that leads you away from Jesus. You know in your gut when something isn’t right. Rip the band-aid and live in the hope and promises of Christ.
3. Be patient with yourself, seeking help and counsel when needed.
May God keep you and bless you!