About five years ago, we decided to add two more words to our already established three word family mission statement (to be revealed at a different time). These two words: LOVE MORE are so simple to write, simple to say, often hard to put into action.
When everything is going well, the weather is good, the kids are responsive to your instructions, your husband is buying you fun Christmas gifts, your neighbors are bringing delicious goodies, it’s easy to love more. BUT when a child is driving you crazy with incessant whining, teenagers are constantly pushing your buttons and “accidently” but consistently missing their curfew, when husbands have no clue about what is required to put your house back together after the Christmas extravaganza and is quietly reading a book by the fire or when your in-laws openly disapprove of the way you run your family, then is when “Love More” gets hard!
One summer at our cabin in Idaho where we have a tennis court and where all our children learned to play tennis during the summer with their father as the master instructor, our neighbor across the fence became incensed about the tennis balls that were landing periodically on his lawn. Keep in mind that this neighbor was extremely meticulous. The thought of having the turf on his lawn “dented” by tennis balls was just more than he could take. One morning he came out on his balcony and started yelling, swearing and profaning at our children who had popped yet another ball onto his turf! My husband, Richard, came out of the cabin, just in time to hear the tirade and was equally incensed! A very nasty interchange ensued and everybody was upset.
After the heat of the moment, Richard felt sad about some things that he had said and when we returned home, he found the neighbor’s address and sent him one of the books that he had written with a sincere apology in the front cover. The next time we saw that neighbor at the lake several weeks later the neighbor said with a cold glare, “I burned your book!”
At that point, it was all that Richard could do to keep from laughing, but luckily was able to restrain himself! He realized that poor guy had more going on in his life than we had realized. There were things that we would never know about the hard things in his life, but our job was just to simply “love more” by feeling sorry for him and to honestly be able to say to ourselves that he was a guy who had lots of problems and just needed to be forgiven for his indiscretions. Otherwise, his problems became our problems too!
I heard a wonderful quote this year about holding hard feelings toward those who have wronged us. It goes something like this: “Letting bad feelings fester toward people who have wronged you is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” The perfect antidote is just to “Love More”. One of our daughters who is also the mother of five children actually made a wooden plaque that hangs above their front door that has “Love More” engraved in it. It’s a great reminder as the kids walk out the door, that when they are at school, whether they are being persecuted or just see someone who needs someone to say “hi” to them, those two words are also engraved on their minds as they dive into the world each day.
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So here is a new year’s challenge to you: Whether the bad feelings are between you and a child who has ADD or OCD, you and your husband who isn’t as supportive as you want him to be, a bully who is making your child’s life miserable, your mother who criticizes you incessantly, a neighbor who wishes your would burn your bikes and scooters or even a dog who has chewed up your beloved new leather shoes, just let those two words cross your mind at the height of your dismay and I can almost guarantee it will bring thoughts of compassion rather than condemnation and peace rather than feelings of persecution.