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What’s love got to do, got to do with it?

March 15th, 2012by Emily Reis

I asked my 4-year-old what love is.  Here’s what he said:

Love is when you hug someone, or give them a kiss.  It’s not “GRRRRRRR” – that’s anger-ness.  But when you say, “I love you,” then thats love.

Sounds simple enough.  Okay, so – here’s what I have to do to love my family…be affectionate and loving, don’t growl at them, and tell them what they mean to me.

Sounds simple enough, right?  Oops, I already said that.  Okay, yes, I can do this.  It’s easy…even my 4-year-old can explain it to me.  All right…take time to physically show them I care, stop growling, and say only kind things.

Okay, deep breath…like I said…I can DO this!  Come on, self, today’s the day!  Gonna get it right!

Ugh.  It’s only about 7:45 a.m. and I already growled.  Eeeek! – I could have said that in a sweeter way.  Oh boy, Mommy needs to say sorry…AND “I love you.”

So how do I get from here to there?  How do I get from the GRRRRR to the good stuff?  As much as I want to be a perfectly patient person (and I really, really do), I fall short.  Everyday.  Sometimes, many times a day.  I used to look around myself at Mass and think of my faults and failings and think, “What’s the point?  I’m not really good at all this being good all the time stuff.  I mess up everyday at Love.”

But then I went to a confession that changed my life.  Basically the priest explained to me that the family is a “school of love.”  No one goes to school for something they already know everything about or already know how to do perfectly.  Nope, just the opposite.  School is where we spend years learning about things we don’t know everything about, and practicing things we certainly don’t do perfectly at the beginning.  Sometimes we get A’s; sometimes we fail.  But what matters in the end is that we keep at it.

You see, Jesus knows I need a lot of training at this “Love” thing that Christianity is all about.  So much so that he has even given me my very own school of love to attend all day, everyday (and yes, with little ones – sometimes all night, too).

And when I flunk a test?  Well, he has made a wonderful way back to a clean slate.  Confession.   I seriously don’t know what I would do without it.  The healing I have experienced through confession has absolutely brought miracles into my motherhood and marriage.  Yes, I still have a long way to go….but also I have some very good teachers.

I just need to keep listening to my 4-year-old.

Emily Reis

Emily Reis lives on a farm in greater Cincinnati with her husband Patrick and three small children. She is a graduate of Franciscan University, where she earned a degree in Theology and Catechetics.