Recently, I attempted a conversation with my husband about feeling taken for granted. Anyone who has been in a long-term relationship has probably had these thoughts at some point and perhaps has even tried to talk about it. My husband was shocked that I felt that way. I was shocked that he didn’t understand my feelings. We stumbled over words and wrestled with feelings (both our own and each other’s) in an attempt to communicate.
Some days later I was still mulling over this disconnect between us. I thought about what it would be like if he would just change – not likely. I thought about what it would be like if he (and all his needs) were no longer in my life – incredibly sad and very lonely. I thought about my expectation since childhood that life should be fair, a false narrative with which I am continually doing battle. I came to the understanding that since we may never resolve the tension over this topic, I had to change me (duh!) I was inspired to think about my continual service to him as a blessing God gives me every day. I determined to wake up every morning asking God to show me how I can be a blessing to my husband that day.
I was seeing the fruits of this change in my attitude when I came across this quote from
“There was … a certain nun who managed to irritate me in everything she did. The devil had a part in it, for it was certainly he who made me see all her bad points. Not wishing to give way to natural antipathy, I reminded myself that sentiments of charity were not enough; they must find expression, and I set myself to treat her as if I loved her best of all. I prayed for her whenever we met, and offered all her virtues and merits to God. . . . .. I prayed earnestly for this Sister who had caused me so much struggle, but this was not enough for me. I tried to do everything I possibly could for her, and when tempted to answer her sharply, I hastened to give her a friendly smile and talk about something else . . . . Sometimes, when the devil made a particularly violent attack, if I could slip away without letting her suspect my inward struggle, I would run away from the battle like a deserter; and what was the result?
She said to me one day, her face radiant: “What do you find so attractive in me? Whenever we meet, you give me such a gracious smile.” What attracted me? It was Jesus hidden in the depths of her soul; Jesus who makes attractive even what is most bitter” (Quoted in the Renovare Weekly Digest for June 7, 2017).
Thèrése shares her testimony about dealing with a person with whom we have problems. It is also a process that we can choose to live into on a daily basis. Here are the steps:
♥ Choose to treat this person with love
♥ Pray continually for the person
♥ Serve the person when possible
♥ When tempted to speak in anger, run away from the battle.
♥ Most importantly, look at the Jesus hidden in the depths of that person’s soul.
Thérèse felt an early call to religious life. In 1888 at the early age of 15, she became a nun and joined two of her elder sisters in the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy. She died at 24, following a slow and painful fight against tuberculosis. Evidently the trials of her short life gave her the wisdom that we can all use to help us all fight “antipathy” and replace our negative feelings with expressions of love. If we look for Jesus in the soul of someone we just can’t stand or understand, we, too, may be rewarded with a radiant face.