February is a month when many of us focus on talking about and celebrating love! I always enjoy celebrating St. Valentine’s Day. I get caught up in the celebration of love even though for many years I didn’t have a significant other to celebrate with. Most years I take time to celebrate with other family members or friends who I love the most in my life, like my 93 year old Grandfather. He’s one of my favorite Valentine’s! My other favorite is my autistic sister. I would be in big trouble if I didn’t mention her.
For almost five years before we moved out of Michigan, my sisters and I would spend the weekend closest to Valentine’s Day with our Grandfather. We brought him gifts, cards and nice bottles of wine and he would give us flowers and candy and cook delicious meals for us. It was a beautiful way for us to celebrate love, the gift of life, family, and our relationships.
I think it is very important to celebrate and show gestures of love in big ways on special holidays but I believe it’s even more important to show gestures of love on a daily basis. There are many different ways to express our love to those around us, but one of the most powerful gestures of love is forgiveness.
We have so many opportunities to forgive the people we love the most every day! Forgiving those who leave behind dirty dishes, those with short tempers, undone work, misunderstandings, lights left on, missed deadlines, sticky counters, miscommunication, messy work stations, mean words, gossip, etc., … the list goes on and on. Whether it’s a spouse, significant other, best friend, sibling, child, roommate, teammate or co-worker, we are constantly called to forgive each other for the big and the little things that hurt us and annoy us. Forgiveness doesn’t undo what happened, but it does change our hearts so we can receive the grace and peace to love, unconditionally.
I’m not a natural forgiver, but then, who is? So when I’ve been hurt or annoyed, I pray and ask God to give me the grace to forgive, because I need all the help I can get! Then I’ll say out loud, in a whisper, or as a prayer in my mind, depending on the situation, “I forgive ________ for ________”, and I ask God to bless them. Sometimes I need to do it once and I can move on. Other times, depending on the severity of the action needing forgiveness or my unwillingness to let go, I have to forgive over and over again. But as Christ told us in Matthew 18:22, we’re called to forgive – seventy times seven!
I also find that it can be harder to forgive those who are closest to us. When they hurt us it hurts more because they, of all people, should be the ones to love us most. The problem is that we expect them to love us perfectly – and they can’t. If we can accept that we aren’t perfect and that we can’t love perfectly, why would we expect others to love us perfectly? Only one person can love perfectly and that is Christ Jesus.
This month, as we celebrate the love’s of our lives, let’s show gestures of love in small ways and in big ways and strive to always forgive each other.
My sister and I with our Grandpa
Copyright © 2014 Rosario Rodriguez. All rights reserved.