“..as I recall your sincere faith
that first lived in your grandmother Lois
and in your mother Eunice
and that I am confident lives also in you.” 2 Tim 1:5
Today’s reading started quite a conversation after Mass today. Our dear Father Paul, in his Homily, had shared about the wonderful women in his life who had inspired him with their own wisdom and holiness. I smiled over at my mom, and considered all of her examples of prayerfulness and love.
Mom and I sat and chatted in her car and discussed our relationship and all the things we had shared. Somehow, the conversation took a strange turn when we discussed difficulties through the years that we had worked to overcome. Misunderstandings, hurt feelings and miscommunications came to the surface on things long past, so we listened, really listened to each other and made some discoveries.
I did not know that my mom thought I didn’t appreciate some of the things she had given or made for me. As our conversation continued, it became apparent to me that we did not understand each other because we had been listening to different love languages.
Gary Chapman identified specific love languages in his book and on his website. http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ The languages we receive in are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch. As it turns out, there seem to be languages of love that we give as well. My mom’s include giving gifts and acts of service.
My mom reminded me of a time I got upset, She called me to tell me that she had just counted how many times she had babysat for me and it was (almost) equal to the times she had babysat my sister’s kids. My mom was trying to tell me, “I love you both so much. I don’t want you to think I treat you unequally.” I heard, “I keep track of every time I watch your children.” Wow, completely different intents that led to hard feelings.
My mom also described how it hurt her feelings when I attributed something she had given to me to another giver. It opened up a wonderful discussion on how we look at life, gifts and love.
We moved around a lot when I was young. I often had to say goodbye to my friends, things and our houses. As a result, things aren’t very important to me. I suppose I was blessed by detachment. It’s not that I don’t recognize and appreciate things others do for me or give me. It’s just that I don’t categorize and remember specifics. Instead, it becomes a thread in the overall tapestry of our relationship. I know my mom loves me. She doesn’t need to keep count of what she does for me, how many times she helps me or what she gives me. I am so appreciative of the overall pattern of her being there for me in any circumstances and helping me with every need. What does stand out in my mind, are the countless hours she has spent on novenas, rosaries, Masses and Adoration for me. That is the most priceless gift she could ever give me.
I also give as I receive. I rarely remember what I have given, whom I have helped out or what needs I fill, because it is important to me to not keep count. After all, the things I do are inspired by the Holy Spirit anyway, so what credit is there for me in just being obedient and responding.
There was so much healing and love in my conversation with my mom as we came to a better understanding about how we respond to giving and receiving. At the end of the conversation I just had to share with her, that she has physically covered me with the beautiful quilts she makes me, emotionally with the time she has given me, and spiritually covered me with her prayers and sacrifices. I hope that I can be as good a gift giver to my own children.