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  • Writer's pictureMarisa Guerin

Day 5: Love others on THEIR terms

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

September 14, 2023 - Marisa Guerin, PhD

Loving others on their terms requires emotional maturity. Small children can’t do it. Even we grown-ups can’t do it easily. Loving another person on their terms means choosing to pay attention to what they want, what they need, what they prefer. We have to understand their point of view, their context. Thérèse observed the reality of each other person she was dealing with, unobtrusively practicing kindness according to their particular needs.

The discipline of compassion and love for the other on their terms can find its way into big and little gestures in our personal relationships. What conversation topics do we bring up when talking with a family member or friend? As we connect, are we tuned in to their mood, their energy? How much do we assert our own needs if we are dealing with a relative who is physically or mentally ill, upset, or for whatever reason just not able to respond as we might hope?

What if a friend or spouse cannot be there for us as we wish they would be? Can we recognize and make the loving choice to accept this reality, without being disappointed or holding a grudge? Can we be present to them in a way that respects their needs and their boundaries and brings them good?

And here comes the balancing point: When is accommodating the other not the right thing? What boundaries should we set to honor our own reality and to love ourselves on our terms? Sometimes we can’t do what another might need from us because it would violate our own integrity or truth. Thérèse was not showing us how to be doormats, but rather how to be thoughtful, intentional people of kindness and compassion.

Thérèse did little things with great love, with strong love, but not with harsh love. Her example challenges us to do the same.

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