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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tough Luck

Sister, my question is how does humility, as practiced by St. Joseph, measure up against "tough love"? In particular, I am trying to get through to a relative who continually twists situations around to make herself look innocent of any wrong doing while making me look the guilty party. My husband says you just have to let some things go, but I've had enough after 50 years and I don't think it is good for her to keep up this behavior either.

I'm so confused. What's the tough love part? Telling her off and never speaking to her again?

What terrible things is she making you look guilty of doing? Robbing the liquor store? Forgetting to put the salad forks on the table?

Maybe if you'd spoken to her 15 years ago, or 25 years ago, or 40 years ago or 49 years ago you could have gotten through to her.

But I'd say that after 50 years, absolutely nothing you say or do is going to cause any sort of epiphany here. She's keeping up this behavior whether it is good for her or not.

And you're not the boss of her.

I do have a patron saint for you. St. Maximillian Kolbe. Talk about suffering when you aren't guilty of anything! He didn't do anything wrong either, but he managed to die a horrible death just the same, by stepping in and taking someone else's place on death row. That guy wasn't guilty either.

St. Max didn't sit around whining about who done him wrong. He administered to the suffering around him.

If that's a bit too steep a climb, maybe you could just turn to St. Therese the Little Flower, the patron saint for people who are annoyed by the annoying habits of others.

I think you're going to have to do more than 'let some things go'. I'm assuming your husband means that you just have to overlook her behaviors. I think you're also going to have to let go of your anger and, like St. Therese, offer it up for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.


Anonymous said...

I am sorry I didn't give you enough information. We have been really close in the past when we were both single. There were serious fallings out but we've always patched it up. She is now divorced and I am happily married, with children & grandchildren. Our relationship ebbs & flows but the major fallouts usually happen when she has scheduled a visit home to see the family. She knows she always has a room at my house but if things don't go just her way she throws a fit and refuses to come, saying she will go see her "sisterfriends" who always have time for her. I have family obligations that don't come to a screeching halt just because I have company. Her sisterfriends may not be single but none have children and one even told her "face it, your family just isn't that in to you". She didn't take the responsibility to tell anybody but me that she was not coming, I had to do that. This hurts but do I only offer it up with the humility of Joseph or should I try to explain with examples how much her behavior hurts not just me but the rest of the family that were expecting her visit?

Anonymous said...

While I agree not to hang on to anger and I agree this person is not going to change after 50 years. I do believe in firmly, non confrontationaly, stating the facts. When she lies, one of the things God hates the most, just correct her. In time, she will realize you refuse to give credit to her lies by your silence.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to be Catholic and still believe in karma? Or even be Christian and believe in karma?

Garden Girl said...

Sister, I am not sure if you have ever discussed 1 John 4:20 before, and if you have please just send me the link to when you did.
But if you haven't, can you please help me understand it? I find it very difficult as it seems to me that it should be the complete opposite of what it says. Ie, easier to love God, who has no flaws, than to love people we know whose flaws we know oh too well!

Claudia said...

Sounds like dealing with someone who is fixated at a 2 year old stage of development.
I would just tell her "whatever you want to do" when she would try to pull the guilt feelings.

Read "When I say no, I feel guilty" I can not recall the author at this time.

Anonymous said...

Hello Sister, I really enjoy your blog and especially your quirky way of saint matching. My husband works in an international student's office at a university. (Making sure everything is in order for them to go to school in the USA, etc...) Who would be a good patron saint for him to call on to help with his day to day tasks? Thanks!

Martha said...

Dear Anonymous: This doesn't sound like the only time your sister has been flaky about visiting--I know some people are disappointed that she didn't come, but really, don't they know by now what she's like? (Well, I guess they don't if they're kids, but they'll learn.) Surely they don't blame you for that, even though you're left holding the bag, having to tell other's that she isn't going to make it. Can you just consider her promises to visit in the future a firm "maybe" and convey to others that she'll visit if things work out? Some people cut off their noses to spite their faces. My mother-in-law went to visit a sister in India, and because the other lady got mad about something that sounds trivial, she refused to see my mother-in-law, who had to find another place to stay. They'll probably not see each other again on this earth. Sad.

Patron saint question: In this current economy, it seems like we could use some intercession in helping the unemployed. There is such a saint, Cajetan. You can read about him here: http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-cajetan/

Why is he the patron of job seekers, though? I didn't see anything in his bio to explain that. Do you know how that came about?

Anonymous said...

The title of the book pictured for this post is "How to Deal with Annoying People: What to Do When You Can't Avoid Them."

When push comes to shove, I am always able to avoid annoying people. My problem is that my friends think it's not very Christian of me to do so. They tell me that avoiding them means I haven't forgiven the annoyance, even if I do. Is it really a sin against charity to avoid annoying people?