When our idea of ‘getting ahead’ changed

Matt and Mindy Dalton

During the first five years of our marriage, our relationship could be described as utilitarian; what’s in it for me? And that is the opposite of love. We both worked fulltime. Matt was in sales, 100 percent commission. Thoughts of meeting his quota and counting the days of the month consumed him. Mindy was a court reporter, always under deadline stress and constantly hearing the heart- wrenching pain of other people’s lives in depositions.

Our desire was filled with thoughts of “getting ahead”. Ahead of what, was the question that often plagued our discussions? There was not much peace in our lives. We both had good jobs, but we rarely turned to God in our times of stress or in gratitude for all he had blessed us with. We were on the treadmill; careers to pursue, house to remodel, friends to hang out with and yes, children to be had … maybe.

Looking back, at the heart of having a utilitarian mindset was that we convinced ourselves that we knew better than Holy Mother Church. And we were afraid. Could we love each other and could we love the children that God would give us? Could we provide for these children? Could we pay for college? When we allowed fear to dominate, we turned to the world’s way of consumerism and materialism. Our house was not a home. Our real foundation needed to be in Jesus Christ.

“So whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17). Authentic freedom entered our union when we chose to invite his truth into every aspect of our marriage. The truth is not something, but someone: Jesus. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). Over time, through returning to the sacramentallity of the Church, confession, Mass more frequently than on Sundays, committing to making regular visits to the adoration chapel to spend time with Our Blessed Lord in prayer, we began to experience an overwhelming closeness in our communication, which lead to wonderful intimacy, not only physically, but spiritually. Our respect for each other deepened as never before. We even completely invited God into our sexuality and allowed him to be in control of our fertility, and we’ve been blessed with seven children.

In 2010, Mindy was at the grocery store with all seven children jostling around the shopping cart. An elderly woman asked if all the children were Mindy’s, then asked, “How are you going to get them all through college?” In the early days of our marriage, with God on the sidelines, that question would have consumed our thoughts and worried us for weeks after the encounter. Mindy’s response was not her own but only by the grace of God. “I am more concerned with getting them back to heaven than I am getting them through college.” The woman smiled and said, “I’ve never thought of that.” The joy and peace in her response let us know that God was near.

Now living as best we can in this peace, joy and truth, we have the desire to shout from the mountain tops—“freedom”—and to share with as many who will listen, that there is a better way, Jesus Christ.

Two terrific resources that might launch you in a new direction: “Men, Women and the Mystery of Love” by Dr. Edward Sri, and “Theology of the Body for Beginners” by Christopher West.

Matt and Mindy Dalton can be reached at matt@marriagemissionaries.org, 303-578-8287 or at www.marriagemissionaries.org.

COMING UP: Healing hatred and anger after Charlottesville

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The confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the nationwide reaction to it are clear signs of the tensions simmering just below the surface of our society. But we know as people of faith that these wounds can be healed if we follow Christ’s example, rather than the path of revenge.

It was with a heavy heart that I learned about the Aug. 12 clashes between white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville that resulted in the injury of around 34 people and the death of Heather Heyer. It was an “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” melee.

These events remind me of Pope Francis’ 2017 World Day of Peace message, in which he pointed out that “Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for ‘it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come’ (Mk. 7:21).”

What we witnessed in Charlottesville was an outward expression of hundreds of hearts, and as a shepherd of souls, I cannot stand by silently while people allow hatred toward others rule their hearts. Particularly reprehensible were the derogatory words the neo-Nazis and their white supremacist allies shouted toward African Americans, Jews and Latinos. This is not how God sees his children!

Every human being is bestowed from the moment of conception with the dignity of being made in the image and likeness of God, and we are all loved by him, even amid our sin and brokenness. Satan seeks every opportunity to twist these fundamental truths in the hearts of human beings and we can see the devastation it brings throughout history.

It can be tempting to respond to these attacks on our fellow man with violence, just as the members of the Anti-fascist movement (known as “Antifa”) did in Charlottesville. But this is not what Christ taught, since it allows hatred to gain a foothold through a different avenue. It is worth repeating: the human heart is the true battlefield.

Jesus’ response to violence and persecution stands in contrast with the way of hatred and anger. Instead, he taught his disciples to love their enemies (Mt. 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (Mt. 5:39). Christ’s radical answer is only possible because God unconditionally loves every person and is ready to forgive us when we repent. God’s love is the only thing that can cut through the hatred that is bringing people to blows, heal the human heart and form it after his own. As people of faith, we are called to bring the truth of love to these festering wounds so that hearts may be healed by Christ.

Joseph Pearce, the Catholic convert and former white supremacist, is a perfect example of this. In a recent article for the National Catholic Register, he recalls how it was his encounter with the objective truths of the faith that demolished his race-centered identity and seeing his enemies love him when he confronted them with hatred that changed his heart. We must pray for the grace to love as Jesus loves, to love as the Father loves.

“The way out of this deadly spiral,” Pearce says, “is to go beyond the love of neighbor, as necessary as that is, and to begin to love our enemies. This is not simply good for us, freeing us from the bondage of hatred; it is good for our enemies also.”

May all of us follow the great example of Mark Heyer, the father of the woman who was killed after the white supremacist rally. His daughter’s death, Heyer told USA Today, made him think “about what the Lord said on the cross, ‘Forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.’”

Jesus desires that every person have a heart that is whole and free from hatred, anger and pride. He desires to form our hearts, and that only comes about when we are receptive to his unconditional love, for only in receiving his unconditional love will we be able to give it to others. I pray that all the faithful will be instruments of healing for our country by bringing Christ’s forgiveness to their neighbors and their enemies.