Until I dive right into a situation, I will never understand how to love the people who live there. I am still taking baby and adolescent steps when it comes to loving people well. But here are a few things I’ve learned when I have dared to enter love’s details.
Love listens to the same story again and again and again when old age or illness has damaged a person’s short-term memory.
Love looks past a house that needs cleaning to the person who just needs to talk.
Love listens more than talks.
Love offers presence more than advice.
Love can be tough and feisty when necessary.
Love has to just sit down and cry sometimes.
Love never underestimates the value of a surprise treat, such as an outing or homemade brownies.
Love holds the crippled hand, embraces the diseased body, kisses the forgotten cheek.
We can make love really complicated by standing back and theorizing about what it means and does. Yes, love can require more than we think we can afford at times. But mostly we love one conversation at a time, one small act at a time. When we understand that, it’s much easier to stop thinking so much and simply start loving.
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of finding God in everything is how we find God in human limits, whether in others or ourselves. As someone who is rather perfectionistic, especially about myself, coming to terms with personal limits can be difficult. Indeed, perfectionism itself is probably one of my worst character flaws! There the evil spirit can enter in, as perfectionism can lead me to overwork and exhaustion, or having excessively high expectations in interpersonal relationships.
While on retreat recently, Jesus used the image of dancing to help me to think differently about my own limits. I can become frustrated when I don’t always follow Jesus as closely as I would like to be able. Learning to follow Jesus, though, can be like trying to follow a dance partner’s new steps. My husband took ballroom dance class in college, while I did not. Still, he is a good sport about it when we dance at weddings or the like, and we always have a fun time together, even if our steps are not perfect. The smiles and laughter in our being together make up for the lack of professional skill. Jesus, too, asks us to follow him, but with the loving care of a partner who enjoys the process of being with us as much as the outcome.
By Marina McCoy on dotMagis, the blog of IgnatianSpirituality.com
Mercy seems to be a recurring theme in my prayer. But what is mercy really? What does it mean when we say God is merciful? How am I called to be merciful? I think there are two words that describe what God’s mercy means—forgiveness and transformation.
Forgiveness:God is a forgiving God. God’s love for us is unconditional and the very foundation upon which we are forgiven. No matter what we have done or how long we have been away, God is going to welcome us back with loving, open arms. As we feel sorry for our sins and acknowledge our sinfulness, we return to God time and time again. In doing so, we are making a decision to allow a radical change in us.
Transformation: God’s forgiveness and love for us are not just for us to receive a warm, fuzzy feeling and a clean slate. God invites us to be transformed by being forgiven. God, then, gives us a task: not just to avoid evil, but to work to overcome evil by doing good.
By Becky Eldredge on dotMagis, the blog of IgnatianSpirituality.com
Over time, I’ve come to believe that God and God’s people are certainly trying their best to make my life a glorious adventure.
Some of the biggest life changes I’ve experienced were not initiated by me, but by my Superiors and/or by circumstances. At those moments, I’ve often found it difficult to see where God is involved, but once I get settled into my new situation and gain a little perspective, I begin to see and appreciate that the move was good and the change was needed for me to stretch and grow. God works through others and through me to lead me to a fuller and better life.
I believe that God has big dreams for all of us and is constantly inviting us to choose freedom over fear, generosity over greed, compassion over comparison, and service over selfishness. As such, I’m sure that God is involved in all our decisions, no matter how seemingly trivial. But I’m also sure that God is there plotting to make me happy, so God is not there with a divine remote control but, instead, gently invites us to greater love.
By Paul Brian Campbell, SJ, on his blog, People for Others
http://peopleforothers.loyolapress.com/2013/07/find-your-inner-iggy-decision-making/ 11/30 – (First Week of Advent)
A driving dynamic of Advent is hope. If we had nothing to hope for, there would be no point to this season. The original hope was for a child to be born who would bring justice and peace to the world and who would heal the rift between humanity and God. But that larger hope is filled with smaller ones—daily hopes that can shape us as people.
Some hopes will shape our relationships. The Christ Child grew to be a man who embodied forgiveness and generosity. A life of hope sees the good in others, is patient with their shortcomings, and tenaciously envisions them at their best.
Some hopes will shape our life work. The promised Messiah proclaimed God’s realm of justice and mercy. No matter what jobs we do or work positions we hold, as hopeful people we maintain fairness and integrity as short-term and long-term goals. We make our work matter for the common good.
Some hopes will shape our character. Jesus exemplified hope that cultivates true interior freedom. A hopeful person cannot continue in anxiety, grasping, need for control, and habitual anger.
How is hope visible in your life? Where has it faded?
By Vinita Hampton Wright, on her blog, Days of Deepening Friendship