I have spent many years thinking that in order to be a true Catholic, or even Christian for that matter, I needed to volunteer and help the needy. I had to dedicate my time to those considered “less fortunate” and if I could do that, somehow, a couple of times a week then yeah… I was a good Catholic. After choosing to see myself in solidarity with others, as a team or a community or even a family, my view of “those less fortunate” started to shift. It was freeing to think that maybe I needed to see myself as working alongside people rather then helping them because I had so much to offer them. (side note: there is nothing wrong with helping others! I am just trying to get to a larger point) I am not saying that it is easy to love others unconditionally and I am not saying that I always do. I think I am just noticing that maybe the point is to try to love others, even those that may be hard for me to love. Even when it is really difficult.
One of my biggest challenges is figuring out what it really looks like to love in small or big ways in the real world. I am one of those people who will follow directions just please tell me exactly what to do. Give me some concrete ways to really love others, with a specific amount of how often I should do that a week. I know that really isn’t how this works, it’s just how my brain works! What has been helpful is looking to the saints for inspiration. I posted recently on my Instagram about how I am reading ‘Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux’. She seems to have mastered this whole love thing in ways that I can only dream to do. It also reminds me to stop thinking so much in to it. I am simply trying to show love in all that I do. Right now, this looks like:
- Opening and holding the door for someone
- Smiling at others and maybe trying to hold a conversation or wish them well
- Spending time with family or friends when really, I just want to be home.
- Taking deep breaths when times are tough with Lilly and then giving her lots of love.
- Choosing not to pick that argument with my husband and allowing space for him to say what he needs to say.
- Inviting multiple out of town family members to stay at our house over the past week (I am not a big entertainer and tend to shy away from opportunities like this).
- Showing mercy towards an individual who has deeply hurt a family member.
All of these things, are small. At least they seem small compared to what I thought I needed to do! I should say, of course, it is great to help those in need. It is wonderful to help others when you have the means to do so and even when you don’t! I don’t want to negate how great that is but I would like to point out that we can do those things and still choose to love big each and every day and that doesn’t have to look like creating a charity with the appropriate funding and celebrity endorsements (like I had thought). We don’t necessarily have to live our lives like Mother Theresa if that is not our calling or vocation (nothing wrong with that though, I love Mother Theresa!).
I continue to work daily on showing love in small and big ways. I look at each opportunity in front of me and see how I can be more like Saint Therese. How can I love more in my vocation? With my family and friends? With people at the store and those who are driving slowly in the fast lane (this is a hard one for me). Many people have said to me that the way of the cross is not necessarily an easy one but it feels right and is liberating. Keep trying to show love. Keep trying to be love and don’t try to be so perfect in the process. We are human after all.
In what small ways do you show great love to others? Especially in your day to day routine.1