My worst fear as a teenager? That my secret would be discovered. It was complete torture trying to hide it. I knew if my friends found out, let alone a boy I liked, it would be . . . well, embarrassing. Yes, I am talking about my curly hair. I did everything in my power to straighten it, and we are talking before the brilliant invention of flatirons! Hollowed out metal coffee cans bobby pinned to the top of my head; hot rollers (which still gave me curls!); and even tried ironing it once because I saw my oldest sister doing it. The point I want to make is, nothing else mattered at the time. I had no other fears. And I took most of my angst out on my younger sister. I didn't care about consequences or how much I hurt her with harsh criticisms. My mother would always say, "Do unto others as you would have done unto you." My response? Bring it on. I really could care less what my stupid little sister had to say. I always had a better zinger to boomerang right back at her. We were both stuck in a toxic environment with a very mentally ill mother after Dad left. Taking it out on her seemed the only way to purge the hurt, anger, and frustration of my chaotic world. I remember the pained look in her eyes when I would erupt. But instead of feeling bad, it made me feel better. As if there was someone else on this earth who felt as bad as I did.
You will be happy to know we have always been involved in each other's lives as adults and love each other very much today! Most importantly, I have learned to cope with my past and take it for what it was . . . this journey called life.
In today's Gospel (Matthew 7:6, 12-14), Jesus reminds us to play nice:
Jesus said to his disciples: "Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.
"Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets. "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few."
In the Monthly Message of December 2005, Jesus gives examples of how to play nice:
“I have given you many examples of how I loved during My time on earth. Read about Me in Scripture, dear apostles, and then be gentle as I was gentle. Be kind as I was kind. Be respectful as I was respectful. Be forgiving as I was forgiving. I am with you in each moment and you may ask me for the grace to love each soul in your life. I will send you this grace and together, you and I will prepare you to love like a resident of heaven. In this process, you will find great joy. This joy is only the very beginning of My reward to you. Be at peace. Your God created you to love and He will teach you how to do this.”
Lay apostles, it all seems so crystal clear, doesn't it? Then why is it so hard to forgive at times? To be kind, gentle, and respectful in situations where it is so desperately needed? Well, quite frankly, because we are flawed human beings. And, it takes practice! How can you practice being forgiving, kind, gentle or respectful today? Well, I for one am going to call my baby sister and remind her how much I love her!
Thank you, Lord, for all the lessons You so desperately want us to learn. Help me to remember all it requires is one step forward, one act of love.