It Bears All Things

We call our family members “loved ones,” but the truth is we aren’t always that loveable.

The daily grind of home and hearth are not without friction. When you’re in a bad place, the ones you love best usually get it the worst. Who wakes up and thinks, “I wonder how I can make this house happier today?”

My knee goes out periodically. It’s an old injury that flares up once in a while and cripples me. Probably it dates back 30 years to the time I whiffed on a soccer ball and tore something important.

The episodes don’t last long, but while they’re ongoing I get ornery. Hobbling around like an invalid turns me into a mumbling crumbum. I get snippy with people who don’t deserve it—namely my beautiful wife and my innocent children.

“Who put these bowls on the bottom shelf!?” I bark like a mad dog. “Don’t you pork chops know how to load a dishwasher? There’s a right way and a wrong way you know”

Pet peeves get pet peevier when you’re in pain.

When the knee heals I’ll make sure to remind them all how grateful I am that they even try to load the dishwasher at all. Promise.

The high heat of summer has ill effects on everyone’s manners. When the kids are tired and worn down they get grumpy, full of sass. They roll their eyes and exhale sharply and dramatically.

They say things to their mother and father, like, “How was I supposed to know metal can’t go in the microwave?” or “Can we do something, I’m bored.”

Grrrr.

Love is patient. Love is kind. But it’s a nice day outside. Love is not going to plan your summer for you.

Sometimes children throw fits, like our Billy, who seems to believe that two year-olds are entitled to unlimited applesauce and yogurt. This ain’t daycare, pal. The kitchen is closed until dinner.

Have you ever had the great experience of being defied in public by a child who has decided that you can get out of the pool if you prefer but she’ll be staying right where she is, thank you very much? If the answer is ‘no’ you have something edifying to look forward to.

We are at our most unloveable when we dare our loved ones to embarrass themselves in public. Love does not seek its own interests. It is not quick tempered.

Everyone commits quotidian crimes against their loved ones, but there are other occasions of unloveability that are not so everyday. The trial of illness has made many saints. I’m sure it’s made an equal number of unhappy homes.

We’ve all said silly things while in the grips of a high fever or under the influence of strong medicine. My grandmother once went into the hospital for a minor procedure requiring a general anesthetic. When she came out of it she groggily asked, “Boy or girl?”

Honest mistake. She was a mother of seven.

It’s not uncommon for suddenly uninhibited sick people to lash out at their caregivers. The mean, naked, shivering truth rears up in extremis. Absorbing a barb under such circumstances requires deep reserves of humility and compassion.

Love endures all things.

Sticking around and taking the sickbed heat when it would be so much easier to up sticks and walk away must be among the heaviest crosses to bear. Love does not brood over injury.

A good friend is currently dealing with a bad situation. A child is suffering. Her parents and her doctors don’t know how to help her. It’s taking a toll on the family. My friend is afraid that his frustration will tip over into despair. His wife feels it too. They both feel they are failing as parents. They fear the constant stress will permanently scar their other children.

Please pray for that family, and for all who find it within themselves to love the seemingly unloveable. May their holiness rub off on the rest of us.

Love never fails.

From the July/August issue of Fairfield County Catholic

 

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