‘Let God Love You’

Seeing ourselves the way God sees, and knows, us

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When my husband, Larry, teaches about Christian prayer, the first thing he does is write this simple phrase on the whiteboard: “Let God love you.” It is a phrase he said to me when I was in a dark place spiritually. The participants in the class usually have the same look on their faces that I must have had: puzzlement. What does it mean?

What he means is that we need to see ourselves the way God sees, and knows, us. It is to hold up a mirror to our hearts. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: “The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place ‘to which I withdraw.’ … It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant” (No. 2563).

The heart, then, is where we encounter Jesus Christ. Scripture says that it is the heart that prays.

The deacon must see himself as God sees him. It is a necessary component for developing a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. It is necessary to truly become like Christ the Servant. It is a call to self-giving love to God and neighbor.

The importance of the interior life for a deacon is often discussed. But it is also important for wives of deacons. We wives are in a strange place. Our husbands are clerics. We remain part of the laity.

The Church, rightly, I believe, does not offer much guidance as to the role of the deacon’s wife beyond counseling that the deacon and his wife should be visible examples of Christian marriage. Therefore, developing an intense relationship with Jesus Christ is essential as it is to every Christian. It takes on a different dimension when one is married to a cleric. In the beginning, I found adjusting to my husband’s new state of life confusing.

I didn’t quite know how to support him. I was worried I would get in the way of the Holy Spirit. It has been almost 18 years since Larry was ordained. Back then, I was not exactly known to be meek and mild. So I knew I had to change — or at least let the grace of God perfect my nature (per St. Thomas Aquinas, “On The Trinity”).

The answer, of course, is to develop an intense relationship with the Lord through prayer. To let his will be done. Prayer does not come easily to me. Just when I think that I have established a solid prayer life, I hit a roadblock. My father’s death in 2016 was a major one. Prayer is still a struggle, but I try to persevere.

It is by praying that I offer the most support to my husband in his vocation. While we do share a ministry teaching participants in the RCIA, there are many aspects of his vocation that I cannot share. Sometimes, there is just no other way to help him. There are things that he cannot share with me. As a priest once told him, “There are things that all clergy must take to the grave.”

The only way for me to cope is to strive to be humble. But I have a long way to go. To paraphrase St. Augustine, I am tempted to ask God to make me humble, but not today.

Yet I can only see myself as God sees me if I take an honest and humble look into my heart. It is the way to a relationship with Christ. The primary role of all Christian spouses is to help the other become a saint. That is quite a responsibility, especially when married to a deacon.

The best way is to let God love us and trust in his loving mercy.

SUSAN KEHOE is co-director of RCIA at Christ the King Parish in Des Moines, Iowa, along with her husband, Deacon Larry Kehoe. She writes at

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