Up Front and Personal

Making a Commitment To Find Freedom

By Antonina Zielinska Schlenker

On the first year anniversary of our marriage my husband left for work for what would be a 14-hour day. Our baby was not having a good time due to, what I assumed to be, a toothache and I rushed to get all the necessary chores done while seriously sleep-deprived.

Zielinska_AntoninaCompared to this time last year, my life is nearly unrecognizable. Last year I was living with my mom in Brooklyn, hardly ever saw my fiancé, who lived in Philadelphia, and was preoccupied with travel plans and decor.

My time now is dictated by my baby’s needs and my husband’s and my own work schedule. My responsibilities as a mom have proven more difficult than any previous venture and I’m constantly rediscovering what it means to be a wife.

And yet, on this day, I felt as if I was living my ‘very own happily ever after’ complete with true freedom and peace.

I no longer spend hours worrying about what will become of me. No longer am I stricken with fear thinking about the future, agonizing about what path is the correct one: Who and if I should marry? Is it truly possible to be a good professional and mother? Should I be a mother? How will I acquire all that I need? What shall I do?

On one faith-filled afternoon last year, I committed myself to marriage and all these questions became irrelevant. I no longer have to worry about how I can find personal happiness or the meaning of life. All I have to think about, when presented with any given situation, is how to fulfill the vows I took before God and all those present on our wedding day and the promises I made on the day my son was baptized. This is greatly freeing.

Of course, I am not in a constant state of euphoria. Shedding my old life has not been painless. At times, I do miss the attention that was once focused on me and I most certainly miss sleeping in (or even through the night) and having carefree moments. Nonetheless, I would not want to give up my family and go back to my single life for all the treasure in the world.

I am now beginning to understand what the saints mean when they say that by giving up one’s own will to God, one becomes truly free. I like to think that is what I am now experiencing. I have given my whole heart, mind and soul, every fiber of my being, to my vocation and have been delightfully surprised to find such fulfillment and peace.

So my message to young lovers who are thinking of tying the knot: marriage is nothing like it is depicted in movies, music or TV shows; it is far better, for it is true. Now I know why poets and artists spent millennia trying to explain true love and have yet to be successful: a love filled with God is indescribable.

Antonina Zielinska Schlenker is a reporter-photographer for The Tablet.

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