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Ink Slingers Krista Steele Series The Ask

The Ask – A Catholic Sistas Advice Column

TheAsk

Welcome to The Ask – a series devoted to taking your questions rooted in Catholic living and providing solid, orthodox advice you can use in your everyday. We will take questions from readers and share some practical ways to apply the advice given to help you walk with Christ. Now let’s hear from columnist Krista!


So, I’m writing an advice column. This is funny to me for two reasons. First of all, the one thing that was hammered into my head over and over as a grad student, was that therapists don’t give advice. For the most part, that’s true. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I’m not the expert on anyone’s life. Heck, I’ve hardly got a handle on my own. When friends come to me and open a conversation with “treat me like one of your clients”, the first thing I say to them is “Great! I’m not going to give you any advice.”

The other thing I find funny is that a few letters after my name give me the authority to dish out wisdom like bowls of hot soup to all of those who are cold and hungry in their souls. I’m 28 years old, married for just under two years, pregnant with my first baby without a clue how to balance marriage, motherhood, dreams and a career. When it comes to expertise, the diploma on the wall and credentials at the end of my name aren’t what make me right for this job.

Why me?

What makes me right for this job are the two listening ears attached to my head, the beating heart in my chest that feels for you, breaks for you and reaches out to you in your everyday struggles and suffering.

Sometimes all we need is to get the words on paper or out in the open to realize the answer was right in front of us the whole time.

This is for all the questions that are simple to understand in the hypothetical but get tricky when they get personal. I mean, I understand why the Church teaches what she teaches in general, but there are certainly times when I wonder if and how it applies to my actual life here on the ground. I know the commandments and I know that I should respect my mother and father, but what does that mean for mothers in-law? The Beatitudes say “blessed are the meek”, but can I still stand up for myself when friends disrespect my boundaries?

If you ask me, it’s a tough and important time to be a woman in the Church. We’re speaking up and taking the lead more than ever before. The women of the Church are rising up to do what we do best — build up, bring healing, and restore what was broken. And we’re doing all this while making dinner and making babies, sending emails and birthday cards.

What Women Want 

I think a lot of times when we’re seeking advice, what we’re really seeking is counsel, another voice to validate and challenge what we already know, an unbiased third party to help us separate the truth from everything else, to sit next to us as we sort through the clutter of our assumptions and expectations.

Here’s what I hope this column will be for you. I hope that it’s a place where you feel safe to ask the questions that are heavy on your heart without the fear of judgment. I hope you know and believe that this will never be a place of persecution but of encouragement and empowerment to be the woman God created you to be. I hope you find through the questions and answers of our sisters in Christ that you, my dear, are not alone in your wrestling.

My goal is that this column, this tiny little corner of the internet will be a place where you can be reminded of who you are and whose you are, a place where your burden can be shared, your yoke a little lighter than before. Here you will never find condemnation. What you will find is understanding, practical advice and some humor.  I promise to hold your questions tenderly and answer them prayerfully with my whole heart. I can’t promise you that I’ll be perfect, after all I’m human, but I do promise to give you all the love, knowledge and wisdom I have to offer.


Have a question?

Send your inquiry to Krista Steele at Advice@CatholicSistas.com

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Faith Formation Ink Slingers Krista Steele Marriage Matrimony Sacraments Vocations

The Hard Work of Love

The Hard Work of Love

In the last couple of weeks before our wedding, Jeff and I met with our beloved pastor, who told us this joke.  Marriage is a three-ring circus, he said. First there’s the engagement ring, then the wedding ring, and then comes suffering.  We laughed so hard, even as he told us that it’s always funny to the couples that aren’t yet married.  That joke has been on my mind lately and believe it or not, it’s already not quite as funny as it was 6 months ago.  

Last night, Jeff and I had a lively discussion about paternity leave over dinner, at the end of which I felt empty and alone and unheard.  Marriage has revealed my mama bear heart and has made it clear that my top priority is and always will be my family.  For someone who makes their living navigating the grey areas of life, I’m staunchly black and white on this issue.  Family over everything is my battle cry.  This gift often feels like a heavy burden and this night is no exception.  

I took a shower while Jeff did the dishes and as I toweled off, I heard Ben Rector’s cover of “Do You Believe In Love” coming from the speaker in the kitchen.  I paused it from my phone, walked to the kitchen in my bathrobe and awkwardly asked Jeff to dance.  “Can I finish the dishes first?” he asked.  I slumped back to the bathroom to brush my hair, disappointed.  Not only was I feeling the ache of loneliness, but now I felt rejected, too.  When I came back out, I wasn’t much in the mood for dancing anymore, but I hit play anyway and wrapped my arms around my husband’s neck.  Wrapped in his arms, I cried silent tears.  “Now I wonder, where does true love begin, I’m going under, so I’m letting you in…”

Marriage has broken me open.  In a season of despair so long ago, I resolved to never feel that pain again.  Yet here I am, love and pain falling from my eyes as we sway back and forth, barefoot in our tiny kitchen.  Every day is a series of failures and victories.  Every day I win and lose, advocate and accuse.  I am often weary and anxious.  I fall into despair.  

I’ve always loved love stories.  I have cried over Nicholas Sparks’s novels and romantic comedies more times than I care to count or admit, but I think they get it wrong.  It always ends with the wedding, the boy getting the girl, the happily ever after.  “The hard part is over” they promise, your work is done.  Now bask in the unrelenting glow of your beloved’s gaze.  

That’s not how it goes in real life, though.  If you’re married you know this.  You know what it’s like to wake up after the honeymoon is over, heart racing, wondering what you’re doing wrong.  Everyone tells you how incredible newlywed life will be, and it is.  But it seems that they forgot how impossibly hard it is, too.  How ridiculous it is to expect two people with decades worth of preferences, habits, and idiosyncrasies to become an entirely new creation.  

The real hard work of love is not in the falling, but in what comes after.  True love is not an easy path.  True love is rocky and bumpy on the best of days, a daring decision to walk through that narrow gate that leads to the abundant life.  This is what I’m learning in this first year of marriage.  When people ask me how it’s going now, I tell them the truth.  “So good” I say.  “Marriage is so good and so fun and so hard and I love my husband more every day.”