is easier to reach out in love to a person who is receptive and
appreciates our love. It may require courageous love when that person
is in a negative mood and is pushing us away. Too often we ignore the
person when they are negative or put them down for being in a bad
mood. When we do reach out, if we are rejected right away, we often
give up. However, it is in those times when a person is least
receptive that our love has the potential to have the greatest impact.
This was recently brought to my attention in the following incident.
eighty-three year old mother, Louise Wollenberg, is one of the
friendliest people I have ever met.
Much to my brother’s and my dismay when we were younger, my
mother had so many friends that a simple stop to pick up bread could
seemingly take forever due to the many friends she would meet. If she
didn’t know anyone, by the time the stop was over she would have
made a new friend.
a Saturday recently, we decided we would take her and John-Nuri, our
eleven year old son, out for breakfast to the Catalyst, a popular
nightclub in downtown Santa Cruz. Our nineteen year old daughter,
Mira, works there as a waitress to earn extra money for college. When
we arrived we were delighted to see that we were the only ones there
and so would have Mira all to ourselves. We were enjoying watching our
daughter do her job, when a homeless man wandered in and bought a cup
of coffee. He was in his late fifties and was mumbling to himself.
Barry and I and our son did not notice him, though he was standing
just ten feet from our table. My mother looked up from her meal at the
man and smilingly said, “Good morning, sir."
the man started to yell at her, ”Don’t you know it’s impolite to
stare at homeless people? No one understands us!”
mother continued to smile at him as if nothing had happened and said,
“I thought you were one of my friends. I work with the homeless
through my church.”
man still grumbled and said, ”You shouldn’t stare at us!” He
then sat down at the next table with his back to us, muttering to
himself about people not understanding homeless people. After several
minutes he became quiet. We continued our meal and gradually forgot
about the incident.
the man turned around and spoke directly and clearly to my mother,
“Thank you for smiling at me, Mam. I’m sorry I barked back at you.
It’s been such a long time since someone treated me with respect
like you just did. Your kindness has helped me.” As we later left
the restaurant the man smiled at us and waved good-by.
am sure that my mother’s kindness made a difference in that man’s
life. She reached out past his negativity and extended her love and
other day John-Nuri came home from his soccer practice in a grumpy
mood. Usually he is bright and enthusiastic, so his mood surprised me.
He had gotten kicked by accident and his leg hurt, plus he had lost
his favorite pair of footwear, very used and comfortable sandals. I
tried talking to him and doing nice things for him. Whatever I did
seemed to be the wrong thing and soon it was looking to him like it
was all my fault that he wasn’t happy. I reached out and hugged him
and told him that I loved him very much and that I was so proud of the
wonderful person he is. I meant and felt what I said. I left the room
to begin dinner, and soon he came up to me and gave me a big hug. I
had been able to see past his grumpy mood and see the precious boy
that I love so much.
even more important to use courageous love with our partners, even
though that is often the hardest thing to do for most people. Reaching
out to our partner when they are in a negative mood can be hard enough
as it is, but if that love is rejected it can be very painful. Often
couples just don’t try. However we need to know and understand that
pure love coming from our heart will eventually reach its mark.
Sometimes I feel upset about something and without even realizing how
it started I can take out that mood on Barry. Sometimes he doesn’t
react and just reaches out and hugs me and tells me that he loves me.
I may even grumble a bit more, but the energy behind it is gone and
soon I am allowing him to give me the love and support I needed all
kindness, thoughtfulness and caring are very powerful energies of
themselves. It is a wonderful feeling to see the outpouring of our
hearts be received and appreciated. However, whether we see the impact
of our reaching out in love or not, it has still been powerful and is
enough to make a positive difference.
and Barry Vissell, a nurse and medical doctor couple since 1964, are
also the authors of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk
To Be Healed, and The Heart’s Wisdom.
TOLL-FREE 1-800-766-0629 (locally 831-684-2299) or write to the
Shared Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 2140, Aptos, CA 95001, for free
newsletter from Barry and Joyce, further information on their books,
tapes and training programs, or their schedule of talks and workshops.
Visit their web site at www.sharedheart.org
for past articles on many topics concerning relationship and