Mother Teresa once said, "Love has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me."
This is true for all of us, and sometimes being kind and loving hurts us. For example, one day I was doing my usual grocery shopping. I was in the freezer isle. The isles are narrow. Before I reached to open the freezer door, an elderly man riding a motorized shopping cart stopped me dead in my path. I offered to let him go ahead of me and get whatever he was looking for, thinking I was being polite. But he refused and said his wife just got home from the hospital yesterday, and that he had some free time to shop for the all the things that she needed.
I remarked what a nice husband he must be for taking good care of her. I then began to reach for the freezer door. But before I could open it, he asked if I would play a game with him that he's really good at. I didn't know what to say, but I said okay because I felt sorry for him and I didn't want to turn him away. He said he wanted to guess my age, and that I must be around 50-55 years old. I said thank you for the compliment, but then told him he was way off. I now wasn't sure if he was flirting or just looking for someone to talk to. So I responded and guessed his age to be 67, and he said he was 92. I told him he looked much younger, paying him the compliment he was fishing for. I then reached to open the freezer door and took my ice cream. Then, while I still had one hand on the freezer door and the other hand holding a quart of ice cream, the man drove his shopping-cart into mine, pinned me inside the freezer, then jumped out of the cart, grabbed both my arms, nestled his face into my neck, kissed me on the check and said, 'Wow, what I could do with you!' My whole body trembled and I wanted to shout for someone to help me, but I felt uneasy doing this because of the man's advanced age, guessing he might be senile, so I didn't scream for help. I freed myself, put the ice cream in my cart and swiftly walked away.
Since that incident, I thought about the many times in my life when men came on to me. I also thought about the many times that I took their advances for a compliment, and shrugged-off my trembling. Now, years later, in hindsight, I realize that it didn't matter if those men were married or what their age was. I've also learned that I wasn't the only one they tried to put their hands on. Perhaps, they're not satisfied with just looking because they feel they are entitled to more. After that incident in the supermarket, I wondered just what it takes for any of us to be content with what we already have? How do we remain true to the love that sometimes hurts?
I know my own marriage improved greatly once I vowed to take God as my spiritual husband. I knew I could not keep a family and husband otherwise. Most people don't go around talking about it, but prayer and giving might be the key to their marital success. People making advances might not be aware that we're all confronted with those same temptations, but they have devoted spouses and also hurt sometimes. They may believe they are the only ones who are dissatisfied, that they deserve more and then buy into it, opening themselves up for more temptations. Sadly, that will lead them away from ever finding true love or happiness with the person in front of them.
A couple of extreme examples: I once talked with an acquaintance asking me for help. She who was sorry she'd left her husband for a shoe salesman. She told me that she was minding her own business, just buying a pair of shoes, and couldn't help that the salesman was going crazy over her. Everywhere she went, men would flirt with her, something that turned her head and that led to her making poor choices in her life. She said it made her believe she was more desirable and attractive than other woman, and it wasn't her fault that she drew so many men into her life. I told her that I had the same kinds of encounters, and so do thousands of other women! But something prevented her from seeing the truth and she ended up living a lonely, solitary life.
Another example: A young man who owned a fine restaurant once told me that the men working there would bet on what women they would be able to seduce. He had 10 waitresses working for him, and said it disturbed him that he could make conquests of every one of them, even the married ones! He also told me he was surprised that he could even lure them away from their homes and their own children! This sickened me and broke my heart, but what's even sadder is that he did break up several marriages, including his own, because all those women left everything for him.
When women and men will see through this behavior and egotism and not buy into it, we'll all be better off. In the words of Pope Francis, " Let us never lose hope!" There are also many strong, spirited men and women, a special breed who know better, and I've been blessed in having some around me. I thank them with all my heart for their great examples that they set, and for leading the way for all of us. Their examples helped save my own marriage and family and I'll always be grateful.
About Catherine Nagle: Catherine grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old school Italian parents. Catherine's artist father's works graced churches and public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures, works of Marianne Williamson, and conferences, including the National Theology of the Body Congress. She is also an Ambassador of the Society of Emotional Intelligence. The mother of two children and now a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son. She is the Author of Imprinted Wisdom.