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The enduring power of love

Scott Boyle | Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My brothers and I played outside a lot when we were little. We would start with sports and play baseball, football and soccer for hours. But when we got bored, we would move to our driveway and begin to use our imaginations. Cities with complex roads and towering buildings grew from simple markings of chalk. We would vie for coveted positions like postmaster and pizza-delivery guy and fight over who got to use our Little Tikes wagon for official business.
As the oldest brother, I frequently won these arguments. I always wanted to be the pizza-delivery guy and I would create havoc if I didn’t get my way. On more than one occasion, playtime in our city ended with yelling and frustration. My brothers would run off in anger, leaving a previously healthy and vibrant metropolis of three in shambles with only me to pick through its ruins.
Perhaps it was because I was the oldest, but for one reason or another I always wanted to get my way.  This has always been a part of my personality, and has always been a source of frustration for those closest to me, especially my parents.
In high school, my way meant putting school and social responsibilities first. Exams, papers, studying, theater and social obligations always ranked before family time. If dinner were at 7 p.m., I would hurry to finish at 7:10. I would then rush back to theater rehearsal or to my schoolwork. I didn’t want family time to interfere with my commitments. 
Everything revolved around my schedule. And it got so bad that when I came to Notre Dame as a freshman, weeks would go by before I made time to converse with my parents. Although my mom texted me frequently asking to talk, somehow I found ways to make my schoolwork, Glee Club practices and other responsibilities my priority.
As I have grown older, however, I have made an effort to make my parents more of a focus in my life. But it is only recently that I have come to understand a deeper truth about their relationship with me.
It started in an unexpected way. In the middle of discussing options to visit them in Cincinnati a short while ago, I found the desire for my way rearing its ugly head again. I was transported back to my driveway and the family dinner table. I found myself putting my desires first again: “I don’t know that I will be able to visit,” I said. “These next few weeks are really hard. Plus, I haven’t had time to rest since the beginning of the semester.” 
But then my Mom said something that made me pause. “That’s okay,” she replied. “We’d just really like to see you.”
Although I’d heard these words before, in that moment I understood her words in a new way. She did not fight; she did not show frustration; she simply responded with love.  It hit me that she had always loved me this way. All the times I didn’t make time to call, all the times I rushed her to leave proved to be no match for her desire to love and be in relationship with me.  
It was the same for my dad. He quickly volunteered to rearrange his required, two-day-a-week, three-hour commute to work to accommodate my possible journey home. That’s just what my dad does. He has always made time to be at every one of my performances and events. Like my mom, he has consistently been showing me that he desires that love and relationship too.
For a long time, it pained me to feel that I may have caused hurt to my parents. So, instead of working on the relationship and addressing that pain, I buried it deeper within myself. I didn’t want to confront the guilt I felt.
Slowly but surely, however, their love has transformed that feeling. They have shown me that even when I wasn’t ready to accept their love, they were always willing to give it.
In that light, I think they have provided me with an insight into the mystery of God. God is always there for us too. Like my parents, He desires to be in deep relationship with us. My weaknesses were no match for them, and they are no match for Him. He wishes us to bring all our weaknesses and shortcomings to Him so he can show us they have no bearing on His love.
I heard a song recently with these lyrics: “Every moment of time is just an answer to find what you’re here for.” My parents reminded me of God’s truth to us: Every moment on this Earth is an opportunity to find how we can love and be loved. Nothing less will suffice.
Scott Boyle is a graduate of Notre Dame and intern in the Office of Campus Ministry. He can be reached at
sboyle2@nd.edu
    The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.