Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Home - The Place Where One Learns To Love, Or Not

"For most people, the family is the place where one learns to love, or not...We most likely do not learn to love from our school, or from our place of employment, or from our interactions with the government.  Now we might, when we are older, learn a lot about love from our friends or a romantic love.  But at crucial developmental periods prior to adulthood, if we do not come to understand the contents of attentive, secure, sacrificial love from our family, we will likely be impaired in ways difficult, if not impossible, to transcend in the matter of giving and receiving love."  ~Helen Alvare, "The Family and the Values of Human Life"

What kind of environment did you grow up in?  Do you recognize the environment described above, one of attentive, secure, and sacrificial love?  If not, have you (or do you) get stuck playing the "What if?" game?  What if my parents didn't divorce when I was four?  What if my Mom didn't marry a guy who introduced me to life in the country and bought me my first horse?  What if my Dad didn't marry a woman who has prayed for me and guided me spiritually since the moment I met her?  What if my mom didn't have that car accident and become a quadriplegic when I was 16?  What if?  What if?  What if?! 

"An environment is needed for the flourishing of every kind of life...Much more is required; a living environment, circumstances that will allow the person who wishes to live to breathe, grow, and nourish himself. If the environment disappears, so does the life..." ~Fr. Bernard Bro

If we are (at least in part) products of our environment,  how different would you be today if your environment was different, for better or worse?  We can't really know for sure, but we can remember this when we see someone who has done something we would never do.  "If the environment disappears, so does the life..."

Have you noticed that those who were deprived of a loving environment quickly attribute their lack of development, negative attributes, or lack of virtue to it?  They inherently know they didn't receive what was crucial for their development.  And yet, those who were well-loved and provided for, are able to flourish and excel without needing to examine why.  They just know that nothing is holding them back. 

What kind of environment do you create for those around you?  Something like Heaven or closer to Hell? 

"It seems that each one of us creates either heaven or hell on earth for those around us, by what we say and do, by what is in our hearts.  We have the power to bring division and pain, or to bring peace and joy." ~Susan Conroy

The environment we create in our homes is largely unseen by others, and it is all-too-easy to buy into the lie that "there are no achievements where there is no recognition."  "The private world is the world of intimate relationships without which we cannot live fully human or happy lives; it is the realm where the individual is cherished and the memories that give us a sense of self and connection are most readily built." ~Endow study guide

Environment.  Not trees and carbon footprints and global warming.  Your environment.  Think about your space, your home, your life.  Are you creating the environment you intend to create?  Do you like being in the environment you've created?  If you don't, don't worry, because you are the solution!  You can begin changing it as soon as you decide.  Pick one thing and go with it.  Be specific!! 

Being more loving, more kind, less selfish, etc. are nice, but vague!  What does that look like?  Are you going to say more nice things or abstain from saying a few mean things?  Wash the dishes without complaining?  Do one thing at a time?  Spend more time in prayer?  When?  Get up earlier?  Go out (joyfully) when you'd rather stay home, or stay home (joyfully) when you'd rather go out?  Play Legos instead of check email?  The sky is the limit, but keep your feet on the ground and stick with specifics!

Aside from participating in the miraculous creation of another human being, your environment is the most important thing you will ever create.  It is not always easy to see, but it is something that is always felt.

Dear Heavenly Father and Creator of all that is Good,  Thank you for parents who created an environment where learning to love was easy.  Thank you for allowing us to participate in Creation - Creation of bodies and souls, and creation of the environment where we live.  Lord, we lift up those who were left wanting in their childhood, and pray that you send them people who can show them Your love.  Please convict us of the importance of what we are doing in our homes, that which few people ever see.  Help us to reject the notion that what we are doing has no value.  Please fill our hearts with Your love, so that it may spill over onto those with whom our encounters are many and close. Help us to create an environment where love reigns and self serves.  Amen.


  1. Thank you, Heidi. I so needed to read this today!

    1. Hey Paula!! That was a recurring theme in our group discussion! We need to be reminded (sometimes several times a day) that who we are and what we do is important!! Generally, women (especially at home) feel that they and what they do have no value (because they've believed the lie that what is not recognized is unvaluable!) Maybe we need to create a wake up alarm that says something like "Who you are today matters! What you do today matters! It has incredible value! Especially if no one sees it!" Great to hear from you!!

  2. "A spotless, totally organized house is not necessarily the most warm, inviting, enjoyable, or appreciated place on the face of the earth. The warmth of a home comes from the attitude of the people in it, not the decor or the perfection of every detail." Dr. Laura Schlessing, "In Praise of a Stay-At-Home-Mom".