Ink Slingers

I Pick Me: Responding with Love

Have you ever had a disagreement with someone that ended with you feeling like less? 

I recall a situation not too long ago between me and a colleague. This person became extremely upset, and began to speak down to me. Instead of responding by speaking up, I let him continue to berate me. I drove home that night questioning what was wrong with me, and why I felt incapable, stupid, and used.

I used to struggle with the idea that as a Christian, we must be overflowing in mercy in all interactions with others. Submission, humility, meekness – these are all words that cross my mind when I am thinking of how to love best in a conflict situation.

What Does Meekness Look Like?

Meekness attempts to leave room for others and learn from them. To be meek is to be patient with others, practicing restraint and selflessness. What meekness is not is allowing others to hurt us, or choosing to stay in a harmful situation.

And as much as others may say hurtful things to us, I’m willing to bet that we say more hurtful things to ourselves. In fact, it’s easier for us to be compassionate towards others than towards ourselves. 

We Have Dignity

We are all dignified and constituted with value by virtue of Christ’s incarnation. All of us carry the responsibility to honour human dignity – including our own. Reverend John J. Coughlin outlines this in his article “Pope John Paul II and the Dignity of the Human Being”:

God’s forgiveness of humanity, which is expressed in the Son’s perfect self-sacrificial love, serves as a testament to the highest degree of human dignity both by revealing the love of God for humanity and by demonstrating the fullest possibility for the human person. (2003)

God’s sacrifice demonstrates the fullest potential for the human person, which means that the only appropriate response to one another is love. Unconditional, self-sacrificial love. Now we know that we cannot love perfectly, but we have a calling to participate in that love to the degree that is possible for us. If we don’t, we risk undermining the dignity of all human beings. 

John Paul II writes that the human person cannot live without this love. In the absence of the “revelation” of love, the human person remains “incomprehensible” to self” (Coughlin, 2003).

Understanding that preserving human dignity requires love, how do we train ourselves to respond with love?

Some important things I learned in therapy:

  1. Managing your thoughts can be a way of protecting yourself. We can begin to change the negative thoughts and emotions we have about ourselves during times of conflict and stress. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) was, and continues to be useful in mind management.
  2. Setting boundaries is a way of honouring human dignity. It is, in fact, necessary that we do so to protect and uphold our own dignity. This can look like learning to say “no”.
  3. Like most important life skills, setting boundaries must be practiced. As any healthy relationship takes time/effort, so does our relationship with ourselves. We must love our neighbours as ourselves after all.

Responding to yourself with love is not allowing others to use or demean us in any way. It means not allowing others to walk all over us, or take their anger out on us. As women on the receiving end, this behaviour may even become normalized, which tends to result in lower self-esteem and higher negative self-talk. We need to have a loving relationship with ourselves in order to extend our hearts genuinely to others. In the context of a conflict or confrontation, it is okay to pick yourself.

Picking yourself can look like: 

  • Suggesting you have the conversation at another time, when you will be in a better headspace.
  • Walking away if you don’t like the way you’re being spoken to. 
  • Telling them that you will not continue the conversation if they continue to disrespect or call you names.
  • Choosing to stay silent, and listen rather than speak.

Although this may not be new information for us, a reminder never hurts. Sometimes it takes more than once to draw your boundary. If we do not show up for ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually, we will struggle to show up for the people in our lives – this we know! Be patient with yourself, and above all remember that we love because He first loved us.


John J. Coughlin, Pope John Paul II and the Dignity of the Human Being, 27 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 65 (2003-2004). Available at:

Faith Formation Fruits of the Holy Spirit Ink Slingers Kerri Year of Faith

Come Holy Spirit, Give us Humility

This is the eighth of a 12-part, once-a-month series on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. This month’s fruit is HUMILITY. Be sure to see previous posts beginning with CHARITY and check back next month as another contributor explores the fruit of FIDELITY.

It is rare in this world for humility to be sought after and praised. Our world, particularly our Western society, looks more highly on pride and accomplishments. Selfishness is more common than selflessness. And yet, as Christians, we must live a life of humility otherwise the gate of Heaven will be closed to us.

“The gate of Heaven is very low; only the humble can enter it.” –St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

What is true humility?

Humility is physically kneeling in prayer.

Humility is thinking of others before thinking of yourself.

“Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Humility is gentleness and meekness.

Humility is being poor in spirit.

“Gentleness is followed by peace and tranquility, and animates the soul to love God.” –St. Gerard Majella

Humility means not desiring recognition for your good deeds.

Humility is desiring to be overlooked in favor of others.

“For by the grace given to me I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think, but to think soberly, each according to the measure of faith that God apportioned.” (Romans 12:3)

Humility is not looking for approval, praise, or honor in the things we do.

Humility means being okay with being forgotten.

“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.” –Bl. Teresa of Calcutta

Humility is living with only what you need and not what you want.

Humility means admitting your mistakes and seeking forgiveness from God.

“It constantly happens that the Lord permits a soul to fall so that it may grow humbler. When it is honest, and realizes what it has done, and returns, it makes ever-increasing progress in our Lord’s service.” –St. Theresa of Avila.

Humility is wanting more for others and less for yourself.

Humility is doing things without complaint, especially when it was someone else’s task and not your own.

“What will be the crown of those who, humble within and humiliated without, have experienced the humility of our Savior in all its fullness.” –St. Bernadette Soubirous

Humility is accepting that you will experience persecution for your faith.

Humility means not being fearful of those who despise you for your beliefs.

“Great graces cannot be obtained without great humility. When you yourself experience humiliation, you should take it as a sure sign that some great grace is in store.” –St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Our Blessed Mother was humble, admitting her own “lowliness.” (Luke 1:48)

St. John the Baptist was humble, admitting that he was not “worthy to loosen the thongs on [the] sandals” of the one who was to come after him. (Luke 3:16)

“Likewise, you younger members, be subject to the presbyters. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for:

‘God opposes the proud

but bestows favor on the humble.’

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:5-7)

Humility is Jesus being born of a woman and living among His people.

Humility is dying a gruesome death on a cross for the sins of others.

“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

Humility is knowing that we do not deserve what Jesus did for us.

“Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit for anything as coming from us; rather, our qualification comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:5)

Come Holy Spirit. Teach us to be humble of heart, gentle toward our fellow man, mild in the face of persecution, and meek in attitude. Bring us humility that we may be deserving of Heaven.