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It’s that time of year again--the time when florists and grocery stores charge twice the usual price for roses and “good” boyfirends and husbands go to Jared’s Jewelry as required by television commercials. But the older I get the more I realize that love is a CAT--that’s right, a CAT. It is a COMMITMENT, an ACTION and a TACTIC for living and loving well!

First of all love is a COMMITMENT. Our world would tell us that love is a feeling but life has taught most of us by now that feelings are REAL but not RELIABLE. If we live by feelings alone, we will make many mistakes. But when you commit to something or SOMEONE (like an aging parent!), you choose to love them and serve them no matter how you feel.

Secondly, love is an ACTION. It’s a verb-something you choose to do, to act upon, to carry out. Love is what you do, not how you feel. Sometimes the two line up but sometimes they don’t! Choose to love anyway.

And lastly, love is a TACTIC, a method that you choose ahead of time about how you will act. It is not manipulative but it is a strategy, a preplanned way to act and live. It’s choosing to show love even when things do not go our way. It ‘s choosing to show love even to people that are rude, critical or hard to get along with. It is knowing how you will respond before things happen because it is a proactive choice and not a reactionary response. So this Valentine’s Day, use the acronym CAT to guide your choices about expressing your love-to those you find easy to love but especially to those who may be harder to love.

In caring for your parent, it is not always easy to love because you are pulled in many directions. You have your own stresses, worries, and responsibiblities. Loving others around you does not mean you do everything that they ask in the timing that they ask for it, but you respond in a loving way and process all information before reacting in a negative way. Choosing to love with the CAT method helps you respond in a way that you have chosen to act long before the conflict.

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