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Loving When It's Not Easy View Comments
by Susan Hines-Brigger

We currently have a 6-month-old puppy at home. She’s very appropriately named Tigger for the way she bounces around the house. And while I love her immensely, she is quite a challenge. She’s a chewer, and not very selective about what she chews— toys, shoes, couches, hands, feet. I spend a good part of my time at home retrieving things from her mouth or teaching her that I just want to walk to the kitchen without her attached to my foot.

I get it. She’s a puppy. She’s teething and learning. I’ve been down this road before. But it doesn’t make it any easier. I always tell her—yes, I talk to my dog—that it’s a good thing I love her so much, because sometimes she really doesn’t make it easy. Especially when I’m cleaning the carpets because she decided it was raining outside and didn’t want to get her paws wet in the grass.

But Tigger is not the only one in my life who challenges me sometimes in the love department. My kids do, my husband, my parents, my sisters, friends, coworkers, relatives— the list goes on. And likewise, I’m 100 percent certain that I equally challenge them at times.

Loving someone doesn’t mean that it’s always easy. In fact, it’s usually during the difficult times when loving someone is the most important. As someone with a chronic illness, I know that firsthand.

It also doesn’t mean we always have to agree with that person’s behavior or decisions. But it does mean that he or she matters to us, and we care—warts and all, as the saying goes.

Loving the 'Unlovable'

Take a moment and stop to think of one person whom you really struggle to love. Maybe it’s someone you know. Maybe it’s someone you don’t know. Now, stop and say a prayer for that person.

Doing this doesn’t mean you have to welcome that person with open arms or always agree with his or her choices or decisions. It does mean, though, that you recognize that he or she is a child of God—just as you are.

Some things, such as the case with Tigger, will pass with time. Other things, however, such as our attitude toward the homeless, the incarcerated, people within our own Church, or—given the events of this month—someone of a different political persuasion, may be a little more difficult to overcome. But try nonetheless. They deserve our charity as much as we deserve theirs.

Holiday Trials

With the upcoming holidays there will be a lot of articles and talk about family dynamics and family struggles as families get together. Personalities can clash. Past hurts or grievances may come back to the surface.

It can also be a wonderful time to, once again, gather together and share your common bond.

I’m sure you’re probably all thinking, “Dream on; that’s never gonna happen.” And you’re right. It probably won’t. There’s enough hate and anger in this world.

But if there’s a chance that one person can find a place in his or her heart for someone who wasn’t there before, I will have succeeded. Why not give everyone a chance?

You Are Loved--Here's Why

Last year for my son’s school project, our family had to write down and then share a list of things that we loved about one another. When the writing was done, we all sat down and took turns reading our lists. One by one, we went around the circle, revealing each person’s characteristics that we found so endearing and wonderful. As we worked our way through the lists, I was amazed at how revealing it was to hear how each of us saw the other members of the family.

This holiday season, why not try this with your own family? Take some time to write down one thing that you love about each person in your family or one thing for which you’re thankful about that person. Maybe it’s the way someone laughs, or that he or she gives the best hugs. One of the things my daughter said she loved about me was that I always had time for her, no matter what I was doing or how busy I was.

You might even consider doing this with your extended family when you gather for Thanksgiving dinner or next month at Christmastime. Whenever you have a chance, though, do it.

Sometimes in the day-to-day rush of life, it’s easy to forget all the things we love about one another. Take some time out to let those you care about know they are loved.


Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at "A Catholic Mom Speaks," 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to CatholicMom@franciscanmedia.org.

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Augustine of Hippo: A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. 
<p>There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother (August 27), the instructions of Ambrose (December 7) and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. </p><p>Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism. </p><p>In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).</p> American Catholic Blog Silence is the ability to trust that God is acting, teaching, and using me—even before I perform or after my seeming failures. Silence is the necessary space around things that allows them to develop and flourish without my pushing. God takes it from there.

 
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