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  • Writer's pictureMarisa Guerin

Day 1 - “Love is patient, love is kind.”

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Sept. 10, 2023 - Marisa Guerin, PhD

Therese dedicated herself to studying what she called “the science of love.” This was no flowery, naïve exercise on her part -- with a sense of compassion for each person’s hurts and vulnerabilities, she came to understand that everyday failures to love happen often. Her Little Way involved the everyday willingness to be as patient and kind as she could manage.

In daily life, tired children can be cranky, elders can wear us out with their repetitive worries, and overworked spouses can forget to do the errand they promised. Remembering in the nick of time to take a breath and extend our patience after a stressful day at home, we may manage to eke out a bit more tolerance and a genuinely kind word or smile, even if we are perilously close to the frayed end of our patience. Loving warmth softens the tension in us and in others. It makes possible a way through the stress, without meanness.

At work our love might involve putting aside resentment or retaliation and maintaining instead an even-tempered attitude toward uncooperative colleagues. We can try to understand work situations more deeply before we jump to negative conclusions: sometimes the true dimensions of an issue can become clear only if we resist the instinct to blame others.

In all these examples, the loving way is making a choice to think and act kindly, to extend our patience, to do our best to respond to the other the way we would hope someone would respond to us. Even when we take assertive actions like setting boundaries, correcting a child, or speaking up for what we rightly can expect from another person, we can try to speak from a position of kindness, without the hard edge of indignation or anger. In a reflective spirit, we might consider what part we have played in the situations that test our patience. We can then adjust our expectations of others and of ourselves in realistic ways.

Therese, our mentor, offers us the profound insight that love is never violent to others or to ourselves. When we inevitably fall short of our desire to be loving, we can practice self-compassion, forgiving ourselves for failing and resolving with a willing heart to do better the next time.

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