Chapter Four: Daily Choices for Love
by Rebecca Baehrend
Reading this chapter, I was struck by the emphasis on the importance of day-to-day interactions. Relationships with other people, whether in marriage, or friendship, always require a choice. Pope St. John Paul II talked about the gift of self, how each person is called to give their life away in a specific way. This beautiful idea is not about a one-time sacrifice, but an ongoing journey. Our relationships continue to grow as we grow; they are always in motion. A commitment for “always” is necessary, especially in marriage, but it is lived out in thousands of different choices every day.
Since I have never been married, reading this chapter (especially Pope Francis’ first quote in paragraph no. 60), reminds me of my relationships with my roommates and my siblings. Putting forth daily effort makes a huge difference. I’ve come to see that the little things (good or bad) add up over time. Do I grumble about little things that bother me or try to stay focused on the positive? When something is really bothering me, do I have the courage to charitably talk about it with the other person or do I just try to ignore it, silently growing more frustrated?
Pope Francis talks about our call to a “culture of encounter” and wants each of us to bring genuine joy to other people. Do I pay attention to what types of things might make that other person feel loved or appreciated?
I have a housemate whom I love dearly and we have very different personalities. I’m more naturally creative than she is, while she is more expressive and enthusiastic. Every so often, I play harmless little pranks on her, not because I do it naturally, but because I know it will make her feel loved. I get a lot of joy out of seeing her eyes light up at the most recent ridiculous thing I’ve done.
Commitment to one another in relationships is not just about sacrifice; it’s also about bringing out joy.
Regarding marriage, I think that Pope Francis’ words are beautiful when he says that “the husband has the task to make his wife more woman and the wife has the task to make her husband more man” (no. 60). It all comes back to daily choices for love. Husbands and wives are called to use their specific gifts and talents to help each other grow every day. Through these daily choices, spouses help each other become the saint that they are called to be.
What is one small thing I can do today to help my spouse, family member or friend become more of the person that they are called to be?
About the author
Since 2013, Rebecca Baehrend has worked in the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. She studied in Rome, Italy where she earned her Master in Marriage and Family Science from the central session of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies. She loves going to concerts, swimming and drinking tea.
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