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.
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.
With holidays not too far away, 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?
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.
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 dinner. 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.