Country singer Brad Paisley recorded a great song, "If I could write a letter to me" a few years ago and that is going through my head as I read a couple of internet exchanges. Emma Smith has been chronicling her engagement and marriage prep over at Catholic exchange. Her latest post entitled Marriage is Work is a reflection on how differently she feels about marriage than do her secular divorced coworkers. Emma is full of faith, hope and optimism. She really believes that her marriage is not going to be like theirs. She and her future husband are anchoring their marriage in a divine love, not a temporal one and Emma is confident that will make a difference. If she really did not believe with all her heart that her marriage is going to be one of faithfulness, unlike the marriages of her coworkers, should she even be getting married?
Well known Catholic blogger Simcha Fisher could not abide such youthful optimism and felt the need to bring Emma Smith back to reality. Simcha (Maybe I should say Fisher. She keeps referring to Emma Smith as "Smith" in her rebuttal piece.) is absolutely right in everything she says about marriage. However, what she says has been gleaned from years of experience. She even says that what Emma wrote is what she would have written at that stage in her life. So I have no idea why she feels the need to belittle Emma Smith's piece. When I suggested in the comment box that the view from a few years down the road could have been offered without personally attacking the bride-to-be I was told by all the Simcha fans that considering the level of snark Simcha is capable of, this was a kind and charitable response. "But I hope to God she is never involved in any kind of marriage ministry" does not sound very kind and charitable to me.
I really did not read Emma Smith's article as a declaration that because she is a faithful Catholic nothing bad will happen in her marriage. I read it as the reflection of a young woman who is immersed in a cynical, secular culture of failed marriages and she still has the confidence to go forward in marriage because she has faith in God and will anchor her marriage in that faith. Those of us who have been married for a few years know with all our hearts she is going to need that faith. She will be tested. Her husband will be tested. They will be tested together. So for now, at her stage in life, she needs that optimism and confidence to jump with both feet into marriage. If she just dips a toe into marriage now, how will she stand firm when the trials of heartaches, sickness, and whatever other misfortunes that are the reality of life strike?
Some have said that Simcha is just saying what a wiser, older sister should say. If I had an older sister and she had said these things to me as I was getting ready to be married I would have been crushed. I am way too old to be Emma Smith's sister, so I will speak as an old aunt. Go forward in faith. Be not afraid. You will grow. You will learn. But for now, you are where you should be.
UPDATE: Mea Culpa to Simcha Fisher because she took issue with my parenthetical comment about referring to Emma Smith as just "Smith". It is AP style to write that way. Ok. I had been criticized in her com box for suggesting that her critique of Emma Smith was harsh as Simcha Fisher was just offering "sisterly correction". Well, I never called my sister by just a last name so that seemed an odd way of doing it to me. So noted. She is just following the AP style book. Since the gist of my concern is that Fisher's piece was critical of Emma Smith for not speaking with the wisdom of experience she did not have, it is a minor issue.
UPDATE #2: Wow! Dare to disagree with Simcha and the hordes descend upon you. Glad I have comment moderation turned on. One last word from me on this here.
UPDATE #3: Emma Smith has written her own response with maturity and grace. Do read it here.