Remember Mr. Rogers….”It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood….” Frankly that show scared me a little. (Some weird looking puppets and that ratty cardigan!) Turns out, Mr. Rogers had some good things to say.
“ Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
— Fred Rogers (The World According to Mister Rogers)
You know, I think he’s right. These days we hear lots of stories about “falling in love, ” or “love at first sight.” It may well be a state of mind. It may be that weak in the knees feeling. Or that intangible “it” that we cannot describe. But I think it’s also a VERB. It’s active. It’s a work in progress. It is striving to accept what a person is right this minute. Not how they will be tomorrow, or how they will be if we fix them. It isn’t just something that happens. Loving someone means DOING SOMETHING.
Sure, that’s easy to do with some people. My spouse is easy to love. My mom is easy to love. My cat is (mostly) easy to love. What about those people whom you don’t find easy to love? It takes more work. It takes action. It takes doing something. Often it is a struggle. Maybe you are the person who says, “I fell in love with my spouse, not his kids.” What better way to love your spouse than to love his kids? It may not be heartfelt emotion for you. It may be biting your tongue until it bleeds. (Done that!) However, if we truly desire to express LOVE in our families we must DO. We must put the word into action.
The words often echoed at weddings, “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love endures all things…” They are beautiful words made even more beautiful by the sentiment involved. But after the wedding, when real life sets in….that’s when we really need to love. We do need to express patience and kindness. We need to be slow to anger. All of these seemingly virtuous traits are love. They are the epitome of the experience of loving.
How do all we “normal” people with anger and sadness and concern show love? After all “be slow to anger” seems to be an extraordinarily difficult task in those vague terms. It may take on different forms. Perhaps we show patience when our stepchildren forget us on Mother’s Day. Instead, maybe we help them make a gift for their own mother. Maybe we overlook the “You’re not my mom” comments and remember that divorce is difficult for everyone, especially the kids.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, you can love. Maybe it’s not the feeling you imagined it would be. However, your actions could result in a better relationship with those you are trying to love…perhaps a friendship or a full blown love affair on both sides. And wouldn’t that be a beautiful day in the neighborhood. (Pun intended!)